|Arthur Dominic Villasanta |||Jan 21, 2017 07:35 AM EST|
(Photo : Russian Ground Forces) T-90As on parade.
Russia's decision to modernize its T-90A main battle tanks to the new T-90M version indicates problems -- likely a lack of money -- with production of the heavily touted but very expensive T-14 Armata.
The T-90M is being described as "a deep modernization" of the T-90A. There are some 400 T-90As in service with the Russian Ground Forces, and all these machines are to be modernized.
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Russian media reports the T-90 M will be outfitted with many of the technologies to be installed in the T-14, further confirmation all is not well with the production of the T-14.
Among the T-14 technologies coming to the T-90M is the 125 mm gun and its associated autoloader developed especially for the T-14.
"The tank will receive an upgraded 125 mm smoothbore gun called the 2A82-1M -- the same as that on the Armata -- and a new fire control system, which is characterized by high levels of accuracy, rate of fire and has an increased barrel life -- about 900 shots," said Russian defense analyst Alexei Leonkov.
Two other Armata systems the T-90M will receive are the Armata's Afghanit Active Protection System (APS) and Malachite reactive armor.
Russian media also said the modernization of the T-90As will be far less expensive than producing the terribly expensive Armata. It also noted Russian analysts as heaping praise on the new T-90M.
"The new vehicle (T-90M) could be twice as effective as compared to its predecessors," said Dmitry Yurov, a defense reporter.
"This third 'Breakthrough' from Uralvagonzavod can test out many of the technological developed for the fourth generation of tanks (the T-14). In the short term, this approach will not only improve the reliability and firepower of the tank, but also significantly increase the demand for such a machine on the world market."
The T-90As entered service with the Russian Ground Forces in 2005, replacing the aging T-72s and T-80s and forming the backbone of its armored force.
It was only in September 2016 the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation signed an order for a pilot batch of more than 100 Armatas that will all be used in field trials.
The deal with Uralvagonzavod, Russia's leading tank maker and builder of the T-14, will see the first pilot batch take part in comprehensive military tests simulating combat situations.
Uralvagonzavod, however, can only produce some 120 T-14s a month and it will take nearly 21 years to replace Russia's 2,500 operational tanks with T-14s. But the biggest problem isn't production. It's money.
The program to supply the Russian Ground Forces with T-14s was initially planned to begin by 2020, but was extended to 2025 due to funding shortfalls, as well as logistics and technical problems. The Russian Army plans to order 2,300 T-14s.
Western military analysts doubt if the Kremlin has the money to buy that many Armata tanks, which is seriously in doubt considering the Russian economy's dire financial straits as a result of punishing Western sanctions.
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