The Armata was seen rolling down an avenue in Moscow approaching Red Square, where the Victory Parade will take place. The Russian Defense Ministry released photos of the tank last month, but this was the first time that the Armata had been seen in public, according to the Associated Press. The photos showed only the platform of the tank as its turret was covered with fabric.
Victory Parade due to feature new tank
Russia has invested heavily in the new tank, and the Armata will be the centerpiece of the parade on Saturday May 9, which marks the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. It is expected that around 200 pieces of military hardware and 15,000 Russian troops will be involved in the parade, which may be the largest military parade ever held.
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150 combat aircraft will also take part, as well as 1,300 troops from other countries such as Serbia, China and India. The Armata is expected to steal the show, with its unmanned, remote-control turret which could be the forebear of a completely robotic battle vehicle. Aside from the turret, the Armata boasts 125 mm guns which are capable of firing laser-guided missiles and shells over a distance of 16,000 feet.
“New communications equipment allows the vehicles’ crews to see the whole tactical situation in real time and communicate with command points and other military units within a single system of automated combat control,” said a representative of state corporation Rostec.
These communication improvements will allow the Armata to function as part of a wider network of defense equipment such as drones, electronic countermeasure systems and devices which aid the tank in targeting its adversaries.
Innovative design improves performance
Russia is predictably excited by the new tank, and experts have claimed that it is the most technologically-advanced tank in the world. While nationalistic hubris has become increasingly common in Putin’s Russia, it appears that this time the claims may be founded in reality. Even some Western experts have lauded the Armata.
It is the first tank in the world to have an internal armored capsule in which the three-man crew sits, while the remote control turret also boasts an automatic weapons loading system. Both of these features improve the safety of the crew, as well as the efficiency of its weapons systems.
“There is such a thing as reaction time. For American and German tanks it’s three to four seconds. For old Russian tanks it’s five to six seconds,” said Russian military analyst Konstantin Sivkov. “The new Armata tanks will have a quicker reaction time, most likely on par with the American and German machines.”
Platform to be used for other military vehicles
The designers also claim that the Armata’s platform could be used for other machines such as a heavily armored infantry vehicle, a self-propelled heavy howitzer and a combat support vehicle. By using the same chassis the cost of production would be slashed, an important consideration for Russia and any other army. A series of vehicles using the same platform would also allow for better technical support and easier maintenance.
Russia plans to produce 2,300 Armatas by 2020, part of a wider plan to modernize the country’s armed forces. However it remains to be seen whether Russia’s weapons industries will be able to keep up with such a plan. Another potential constraint on the production of the new tank is that Russia’s economy is suffering, and the military may see its budget cut as a result.
Military modernization affected by economy
A combination of crashing world oil prices and Western sanctions imposed due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine mean that Russia is struggling to balance its budget. As impressive as the Armata may be, its impact might be limited due to issues on the production side. Western allies would do well to take on board some of the ideas that make the Armata so impressive.
Oleg Bochkaryov, a deputy head of the Military Industrial Commission, which deals with weapons procurement for the Russian government, stated that the new tank will begin active service next year. Other countries who wish to get their hands on the tank will have to wait at least five years before they can purchase one, he said.
Russian investment in its military comes at a time when tensions are increasing around the globe, and one of the aims of the sanctions was presumably to slow the development of Russia’s armed forces so that the country’s saber rattling does not become even more threatening.