Russia’s 9th Army 2023 International Military-Technical Forum opened at the “Patriot Military Park” in the Kubinka suburb of Moscow on Aug. 14. Among the usual weapons and other military equipment on display was an experimental inflatable military Orthodox church designed specifically to deploy with Russian forces on the front-line in Ukraine.

According to an article by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, the mobile church is carried in an adapted mobile camper van in which there are two beds (one for the priest and the other for his driver/bodyguard), a refrigerator, shower, sink and chemical toilet. An aluminum frame is then used to attach a 4x4-meter camouflaged inflatable tent which acts as the prayer room. 

The van and tent are adorned with facsimile icons as well as a banner that reads “For Faith and Motherland,” incorporating the “Z” and “V” symbols of Russia’s so-called “special military operation.”


The church was presented to the news agency by priest Boris Grishin, who said that the tent structure could accommodate up to a platoon of soldiers (20 to 30 men) at one time.

Grishin said the intention is to deploy the church to field training locations or in the rear sectors of the war zone. But if needed farther forward, the vehicle can operate without the tent, allowing it to travel to the front line and enable priests to conduct services.

Grishin said that the mobile church can be erected in as little as 10 minutes, taken down and packed away in a similarly short amount of time. “You put [the tent] up, quickly inflate it, hold the service, take it down, and leave,” he explained.

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Interior of the mobile church Photo: mobilization news

Frowned upon during Soviet times, religion within the Russian Army, as in its society as a whole, has been seen as an important aspect of maintaining morale among its troops in recent times. Moscow began to introduce military chaplains in early 2010, not only for the Orthodox faith, but also to soldiers of other religious denominations, depending on the composition of a specific unit.


The Russian Orthodox Church has also developed increasingly close ties with the Kremlin in recent years with the head of the Moscow church, Patriarch Kirill, being a particularly staunch supporter of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. He has even sacked priests who failed to pray for “the victory of Russia” in their services.

Russian Airborne Forces tested an air-mobile church in 2013 which was air-dropped from aircraft during exercises. The facility came in the form of an inflatable tent and contained church features made of crash-proof materials. The churches were manned by a team of “flying priests” – former paratroopers, who were specially trained at Ryazan Higher Airborne School south-east of Moscow – in preparation for parachuting into areas of conflict.

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