Russia’s Vostok (“East”) 2018 exercises are currently under way across the nation. Russian air, land, sea, and even nuclear forces are participating. Although the number of personnel Russia claims to be participating (297,000) is surely exaggerated, the troops involved and doing some pretty fascinating things.
Russia’s Ministry of Defence has uploaded several videos from the exercises to briefly highlight what Russian—and Chinese—soldiers are doing. The videos, which should be considered propaganda and consumed with a healthy dose of skepticism, are a window into rarely seen aspects of the Russian military, from the radar screens of surface-to-air missile systems to fighters and bombers preparing to fly towards Alaskan airspace.
In this first video, we see Russian air defense forces participating in Vostok. The crews of race into their TELAR (Transporter/erector/launcher/radar) vehicles and man their stations, prepared to shoot down incoming enemy aircraft, cruise missiles, and drones.
A Cold War-era design, the Tor series is now produced to the new Tor-M2 standard, which includes the rectangular search radar whirling away on top of the vehicle. This radar can track up to 48 targets at once, while the system itself can engage up to four targets at once, firing one missile every two seconds. Tor carries eight missiles at the ready, each with a maximum range of 4.3 miles.
Next up is the truck-mounted. Known to NATO forces as the SA-22 “Greyhound”, Pantsir mounts two 30-millimeter radar-guided automatic cannons and 12 missiles. Pantsir’s guns can engage targets out to 2.5 miles, while the missiles have a range of 7.45 miles.
Third we have the heavyweights of Russia’s air defenses, and missile systems. The S-300/400 series is roughly equivalent to the U.S. Patriot missile system, a long-range air defense system meant to take on aircraft, cruise missiles, and even short-range ballistic missiles. The basic system consists of a four missiles in launch canisters on a trailer and the Flap Lid radar system seen behind the air defense artilleryman at the 1:47 mark.
In this next clip, we see Russian land-based cruise missiles. The 9M728 cruise missile, also known as the R500, launches from a mobile missile carrier. Experts believe the . This cruise missile unit likely belongs to the , all based in Russia’s Eastern Military District.
, Russian flew into the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). Unlike the last incident, which took place on September 1, the “Bear” bombers had escorts this time in the form of two . The flight of four Russian warplanes was intercepted by U.S. Air Force F-22s without incident.
Unlike other incidents, in this case we actually get to see the Russian view of things. This video, taken at an undisclosed location, shows the Tu-95 and Su-35S fighter jets taxiing to take off on the mission. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, two Tu-95MS bombers, accompanied by two Su-35S and a IL-78 aerial refueling tanker, flew over the “Barents, Chukchi, East Siberian seas and the Arctic Ocean” as part of Vostok-2018.
Finally, for the first time Chinese forces are taking part in the Vostok exercises. According to earlier reports 3,500 Chinese troops, including 50 aircraft were taking part in the exercises. This video shows some of the aircraft. The fixed-wing aircraft are . The JH-7s are likely practicing delivering close air support for friendly forces on the ground.
The wasp-like helicopter that follows is the and the two helicopters that follow are .