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Mysterious Armata Tank Unseen At Russia Arms Expo 2013

September 29, 2013
Russian T-72 modernized

T-72 variants at Nizhny Tagil last week. (via Russian Arms Expo)

The Armata, a radical new main battle tank (MBT) for Russia’s ground forces, was suspiciously absent during last week’s Russia Arms Expo, which ran from September 25 to 28.

The existence of the Armata was revealed in 2011. It’s supposed to mark a departure from current Russian tanks and their Western rivals. According to information circulated by the state-owned RIA Novosti, the Armata has:

  • An unmanned turret
  • A remote controlled main gun and secondary armament
  • A unique fire control system
  • Possible two man crew
  • A universal chassis that would serve as the basis for other vehicles
  • New engine
  • A combination of features from earlier prototypes like the mysterious T-95 and the “Black Eagle” from the 1990s

But the stream of short press releases and news reports from the Expo had little to offer those curious about the Armata.

Even when Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev arrived on the second day, the official press release didn’t mention if he viewed the Armata in a private exhibit. (President Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, was preoccupied with joint military exercises in Belarus.)

But RIA Novosti tells a different story:

 Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and a select group of senior officials got a sneak peek at a secret prototype of the country’s new-generation battle tank in a closed viewing at an arms show in the Urals region on Thursday.

The new tank, dubbed Armata, is expected to join the military in 2015 and become the core of Russia’s army. The Defense Ministry has said that the Russian army will get 2,300 Armatas by 2020.

Although the new tank remains top secret, its manufacturer Uralvagonzavod has said that its design incorporates elements seen in other projects, including Object 195 and Black Eagle.

It will also reportedly feature a remotely controlled gun and fully automated loading, as well as a separate crew compartment made from composite materials and protected by multilayered armor.

To date, there are still no photos, much less concrete evidence from other sources, to prove the Armata’s existence.

This casts doubt on official claims that the Armata could be ready for testing by year’s end and if this is true, then the tank, along with Russia’s military rearmament, could be facing serious scheduling difficulties.

Among photos published online from the Russian Arms Expo, the only new vehicles the Prime Minister was pictured with was the BMPT-72 Terminator.

With up to 400 exhibitors, including Panhard from France, there was no shortage of hardware at Nizhny Tagil’s biggest annual event.

In the course of the expo, it was Russian vehicles that took center stage for a live-fire display to showcase their capabilities.

These included the Tunguska anti-aircraft system; the 2S19 MSTA 152mm self-propelled artillery system; mud-colored variants of the T-72 and the T-90; a BTR-80 variant mounting a 30mm turret; new airborne combat vehicles; a remote controlled ground vehicle armed with a 12.7mm machinegun; the TOS1 Buratino flamethrower; the GAZ-2330 Tigr 4×4 mounted with Kornet anti-tank missiles; and a bridge-laying tank along with other specialized vehicles.

Full-sized model of Atom prototype.

Full-sized model of Atom prototype. (Via Russian Arms Expo)

Also debuted at the Russia Arms Expo was the Atom APC, a sleek 8×8 with a modular turret. The Atom was only on display, however, and wasn’t run.

As for the Armata, at least the people at Military Today went the extra mile to construct a viable profile of the elusive tank.