T-72 B3 tanks at the Tank Biathlon competition in Russia

NEW DELHI: India has fallen out of the International Army Games 2018 being held in seven countries, even though it came exceedingly close to the Chinese teams in two competitions it was participating in, army officials said today.

The semi-final for the ‘Tank Biathlon’ competition ended on Friday and the Indian Army team fell short of making it to the finals. Officials said that the time gap between the Indian and Chinese teams was barely six minutes in the competition being held in Russia.

Even in the ‘Elbrus Ring’ competition, which ended on Friday, the Indian Army’s team called the ‘White Devils’ finished fourth out of seven teams, although it was close on the heels of the Chinese team that came second. The competition is a mountain warfare patrol held in the vicinity of the Elbrus Mountain in Russia.

The participation of India and China together in the games indicates the improvement in ties between the two countries since the Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in April.

Pakistan is also one of the participants in the International Army Games, but it fielded teams for three events wherein India didn’t participate. Pakistani teams took part in the ‘Suvorov’ (a BMP infantry vehicle crew competition), ‘Clear Sky’ and ‘Safe Route’ events held in China.

The Games, which is an annually held event, began from July 28 in Russia, China, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Iran and Kazakhstan and will end on Saturday. The Indian Army participated in two team competitions- the Tank Biathlon and Elbrus Ring. Twenty three teams participated in the Tank Biathlon. The stage 1 which are individual races began on July 28 and ended on August 5. All the three Indian crews completed their stage 1 and entered the semi-final, which comprises of the top 12 teams.

Only four teams out of the 12 qualified for the finals. “Despite a spirited performance today, the Indian team fell tantalisingly short of making it to the finals. The teams which qualified for the finals are Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and China. The time gap between Indian and Chinese teams (4th) was barely 6 minutes,” said an official.

The Indian team is expected to have finished 5th or 6th out of the 23 teams that participated. “The Indian team performed reasonably well despite using an unfamiliar SOSNA sight and could do better with more practice on the same,” said the official, adding that SOSNA is the gunners’ sight in the Russian tanks used by the Indian crews.

In last year’s Games, India had participated in the Tank Biathlon and had shipped its Russian origin T-90S tanks. The tanks had performed well in the initial stages, but had fallen out because of engine problems.

Meanwhile, in the Elbrus Ring competition wherein the total points for the 14 special tasks ran into thousands, the difference between the Indian team and the Chinese (2nd) and Kazakh (3rd) teams was only over 400 points.