Monday, 27 September 2021

Snaps From Ashgabat: Turkmenistan’s 2021 Military Parade


By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Turkmenistan held a military parade on Monday, September 27, to mark the 30th anniversary of achieving independence from the Soviet Union. Turkmenistan's lavish parades are the perfect occasion for showcasing its latest military acquisitions. 2007 saw President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow taking over power from Saparmurat Niyazov (also known as Türkmenbaşy meaning: Head of the Turkmen), who quickly introduced a set of new measures and policies aimed at strengthening the country's military.
 
Apart from greatly expanding its inventory of modern equipment and increasing training to deal with both domestic and foreign threats, these measures have also materialised in the acquisition of numerous types of weapon systems from countries such as Serbia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the UAE and China. Other sources of armament include Russia, the United States, Brazil, South Korea, Italy, Austria, Ukraine, France and Belarus, together culminating in a highly diverse arsenal of military equipment.
 
Contrary to earlier iterations of the annual parade, this year's parade was held at a brand-new parade ground located just outside the capital Ashgabat. The parade can be watched in its entirety here.
 

A T-90S (front) followed by several T-72UMGs. The latter type is an Ukrainian upgrade of the base T-72, and significantly expands on nearly all of the T-72's capabilities through the installation of new armour, sighting devices, smoke grenade launchers, a remote-controlled HMG and a new engine. The most notable feature of the T-72UMG is arguably the installation of Kontakt-5 ERA on its turret. Our article covering the T-72UMG in Turkmen service can be read here.
 
 
BMP-2D infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) followed by BMP-1s upgraded with the Ukrainian Skhval combat module.
 
 
A rear-shot of several BTR-80A IFVs armed with a single 30mm cannon followed by two rows of BTR-80s upgraded with Ukrainian Grom weapon stations. The unmanned Grom module features a single 30mm cannon, a co-axial 30mm grenade launcher, a 7.62mm machine gun and four 9M113 Konkurs ATGMs, a huge improvement over the single 14.5mm and 7.62mm machine guns carried by regular BTR-80s.

 
Serbian-made Lazar 3 IFVs equipped with the turret from a BTR-80A. These vehicles are among the most recent additions to the country's military arsenal. Rather than entering service with the Turkmenistan Army, the Lazar 3s are operated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
 

An Israeli IMI Combat Guard 4x4 is followed by three Chinese Dongfeng vehicles and a Russian KamAZ Typhoon 6x6 MRAP, another new addition to the country's fleet of armoured fighting vehicles.
 
 
INKAS Titan-DS from the UAE and Turkish BMC Kirpi infantry mobility vehicles (IMVs). The Titan-DS is the latest type of IMV to have been acquired by Turkmenistan. The country has previously acquired a number of Nimr tactical vehicles from the UAE as well. Their numbers pale in comparison to the sheer number of IMVs purchased by Turkmenistan from a multitude of other sources however, which meanwhile include Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the UAE, Austria and Belarus.
 
 
MV850 ATVs and MRZR and DOGAR tactical vehicles produced by the American manufacturer Polaris.


Belarusian 122mm BM-21A multiple rocket launchers (MRLs). These MRLs are based on a MAZ-631705 truck with increased performance over the Ural-375D. The increased length of the MAZ truck enables the system to carry another 40 122mm rockets as reloads. This allows each launcher to fire another full volley before a truck carrying reloads has to resupply it, greatly increasing their effectiveness in battle.
 
 
Soviet-era 2K12 (NATO designation: SA-6) and S-200 (NATO designation: S-200) SAM systems. Both types were inherited from the Soviet Union and Turkmenistan still appears to operate them in their original configuration. That said, their days in operational service are believed to be numbered after the introduction of several more modern Chinese SAM systems in recent years. The S-200's sole saving grace is perhaps its impressive range of some 300km, allowing the single site that remains active on Turkmenistan's coast to cover much of the airspace over the Caspian Sea.
 
 
ZSU-23 self-propelled anti-aircraft guns (SPAAGs) and 9K35 Strela-10 (NATO designation: SA-13) similarly continue to see service in their original configuration.
 

Well-kitted soldiers march with Italian ARX-160 assault rifles in their hands. The ARX-160 is the standard service rifle of the Turkmenistan Armed Forces. The Turkmen military is almost entirely equipped with modern ARX-160 and Israeli TAR-21 assault rifles, with limited numbers of AK-74M assault rifles also continuing to see active use.
 

The Turkmenistan Air Force made their entrance with M-346 combat jets, A-29B turboprop light attack aircraft and C-27J transport aircraft, all of which have been recently acquired from Italy and Brazil. Furthermore, the ground segment of the parade featured several unmanned systems that included the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 UCAV and Israeli Sky Striker loitering munition. The acquistion of these assets has meanwhile turned the Turkmenistan Air Force into one of the strongest air arms in the region. Be sure to check out our articles dedicated to Turkmenistan's M-346s, A-29Bs and Bayraktar TB2s here.

 
A regular sight during parades worldwide, seventeen MiG-29s and Su-25s flew over in a pattern spelling out "30". 
 

The Selex ES Falco was the first medium-altitude UAV ever to have been acquired by Turkmenistan. A total of three systems were acquired in a €8,7 million deal with Italy in 2011. [1] [2]
 
 
An AutoGyro Cavalon. Turkmenistan operates several of these autogyros, including this example operated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

 
The naval section of the parade (which was held off the coast of Türkmenbaşy) featured the Turkmenistan Navy's two Tarantul class corvettes, three NTPB patrol boats (based on the Turkish Tuzla class) belonging to the State Border Service of Turkmenistan and at least two FAC 33 fast attack craft (FAC) also operated by the State Border Service. More on the FAC 33 can be read in our article on this class of ships here.


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