The annual Victory Day parade commemorating the Red Army’s victory over Nazi Germany is among Russia’s most important political and cultural celebrations. It is also one of the world’s largest public exhibitions of military hardware, showcasing the latest in Russian missile systems, heavy armored vehicles, aircraft, and more. Here are five of the top weapons that we can safely expect to be shown at this year’s parade.
Russia’s upcoming, expensive high-tech Main Battle Tank (MBT) has figured prominently into recent Victory Day celebrations, and there is no reason to expect this year’s parade to be any different. Russia’s most advanced MBT platform, the T-14 Armata boasts top-tier explosive reactive armor (ERA), a new unmanned 125mm cannon, laser-guided missile integration, a sophisticated countermeasures suite, and numerous other bells and whistles ranging from anti-slip coating to a built-in toilet. Despite ongoing cost and development concerns, the T-14 is slowly shaping up as an MBT that can more than give even its most capable North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) counterparts a run for their money.
It is all but a foregone conclusion that Russia’s flagship fifth-generation fighter will make an appearance during this year’s celebration. With Russia ramping up its efforts to sell foreign customers on the export version of the Su-57, the Victory Day parade is too good an advertising venue to ignore. Four Su-57 squadrons took to the skies over the Kremlin during the 2020 parade.
One of Russia’s most prolific modern weapons, the S-400 Triumf garnered no shortage of global notoriety following a slew of high-profile import contracts with China, Turkey, and India. The S-400 not only demonstrates a vast performance leap over the 1970s S-300, but is markedly more versatile than its predecessor. Compatible with four distinct missile types, the S-400 can operate effectively at short to very-long ranges and can simultaneously engage up to eighty targets. The S-400 has earned undisputed title of Russia’s most advanced missile defense system (at least, until the upcoming S-500 enters service), and has unsurprisingly become a fixture of the Victory Parade’s mobile column.
The Kremlin likely won’t pass up the opportunity to display the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal, an air-launched, hypersonic, nuclear capable ballistic missile that was first unveiled during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 2018 state-of-the-nation address. The Kinzhal missile boasts a prodigious maximum range of 3,000 km and top speed of Mach 12 when launched from a Tu-22M3 bomber. The Kh-47M2 made its first Victory Parade debut in 2018, carried by a specially modified variant of the MiG-31 interceptor.
The latest iteration of Russia’s 1990s T-90 workhorse MBT, the T-90M brings a whirlwind of upgrades and new features that include the latest 2A46M-5 cannon, new Relikt explosive reactive armor (ERA), and a revised turret design equipped with the “Kalina” fire control system. The T-90M made its debut at last year’s victory day parade after completing state trials that same year. Russia’s military has committed to upgrading its existing fleet of T-90 and T-90A MBT’s to the T-90M standard by the mid-2020s.
Mark Episkopos is the new national security reporter for the National Interest.