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The Armata Will Be Out In Force At Russia Arms Expo 2015

August 19, 2015

Russian T-14 Armata 05

The latest generation of Russian armored vehicles are having a “world premiere” at Russia Arms Expo (RAE) 2015 in Nizhny Tagil from September 9 to 12. RAE 2015 is the 10th installment of the popular arms show held every two years. The city of Nizhny Tagil, in Sverdlovsk Oblast, is the headquarters and main manufacturing plant of Uralvagonzavod, a storied heavy machinery manufacturer that once built the T-34, the T-55, the T-64, and the T-72.

Today Uralvagonzavod’s main tank production line includes the T-90MS and the T-72B3 along with train coaches and farm tractors. Since 2011, however, it has been developing a new universal chassis to support an upcoming generation of armored vehicles. This became the Armata platform, with variants like an MBT, an IFV, an APC, and a self-propelled gun. These impressive vehicles, along with other brand new systems, participated during this year’s May 9 Victory Parade in Red Square.

21st Century Asian Arms Race (21AAR) is a media partner for RAE 2015.

A press release circulated by RAE 2015’s organizers revealed the T-14 MBT, the T-15, and the 2C35 Coalition-SV are going to be displayed in the 40,000 square meter fair grounds reserved for RAE 2015. The T-14 is the world’s newest MBT and the first to boast a completely unmanned turret. The best information about the T-14’s capabilities was published by the US Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO).

In the March issue of the monthly OEWatch, an open source publication for chronicling military developments worldwide, the FMSO included a diagram and a brief analysis.

Russian T-14 Armata 06

According to OEWatch, the T-14’s main armament is a 2A82 125mm gun fed by an autoloader. The same turret includes a remote controlled machine gun and the cylindrical Afganit active protection system for destroying inbound missiles and warheads.

Another rare feature of the T-14 are multiple high resolution cameras that function as gun sights and viewing slits for the crew. One is located above the driver’s compartment. Reports later surfaced in Russian media that a 152mm gun is being readied for the T-14.

The T-14’s spacious chassis can “reportedly” support 65 tons on its seven road wheels, which are the same as those used by the T-80U. It runs on a Chelyabinsk A-85-3A diesel engine producing 1,500 horsepower, on par with its rivals from the US and NATO.

The OEWatch assessment of the Armata platform forecasts that it may replace at least 13 different vehicle types throughout the Russian Army.

Russian T-72 modernized

Tanks on display at RAE 2013.

The T-14 has its skeptics, however. An Italian military enthusiast who often blogs about the British armed forces paid very close attention to available images of the T-14 MBT and observed that its turret may either be a mock-up or a prototype. A week ago IHS Jane’s weighed in on another minor controversy about the T-14’s dubious “stealth” capabilities.

These contrasting views are helpful to demolish the hype surrounding the T-14. It’s worth mentioning the T-14 was already being used for publicity purposes by RAE two years ago, even if nobody saw it during the show. Aside from the T-14, its siblings the T-15 and the 2S35 Coalition-SV are being shown at RAE 2015 too. The T-15 uses the same chassis as the T-14 but shouldn’t be confused with the Kurganets-25, a tracked APC that appears destined to replace the BMP-series.

Russian T-15 IFV 01

The T-15 Armata is recognizable for its extensive armoring and its heavily armed turret. Image published by Russian Ministry of Defence.

Russian Kurganets-25 APC

The Kurganets-25, on the other hand, is armed with a remote control turret supporting a 12.7mm machine gun. Another variant of the Kurganets-25 uses the same turret as the T-15.

RAE 2015 describes the T-15 with glowing hyperbole:

“…meant for mobile battles against any enemy with tanks and motorized troops as the main multifunctional weapon under nuclear and other destruction weapon intervention.”

Russian Coalition-SV 152mm

The last new vehicle to debut at RAE 2015 is the Coalition-SV, a 152mm self-propelled gun meant to replace the current 2S19 MSTA-A. The Coalition-SV is a project of Burevestnik, a manufacturer from the city of Nizhny Novgorod. Its role in the battlefield is:

“…for dismantling short-range nuclear forces, artillery and subartillery batteries, tanks and other armored equipment, anti-tank weapons, personnel target, missile defense forces, command posts as well as for destroying field fortifications and for resistance to maneuvres of enemy reserves within the position.”

A follow up from the organizers of RAE 2015 revealed that at some point in the event a panel discussion is scheduled on “Armaments cooperation.” From the organizer:

The discussion moderator is co-chairman of “Business Russia”, chief analyst of JSC United Industrial Corporation “Oboronprom” Anton Danilov-Daniljyan. Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation Government Dmitry Rogozin, Chairman of defense committee in State Duma of the Russian Federation Vladimir Komoedov, Governor of Sverdlovsk region Evgeny Kuivashev, Director General of JSC «R&D and manufacturing corporation «Uralvagonzavod» Oleg Sienko Deputy Director General of JSC «Rosoboronexport» Sergey Goreslavsky, the columnist of leading international periodical on military topics Jane’s Defence, Christopher Foss, and others will take part in the discussion.

The plenary discussion participants will address issues related to Russian MIC development, arms market opportunities, import substitution, development of new types of arms etc.

This particular episode echoes an ongoing theme in Russia’s defense manufacturing sector. Since 2014 there has been an emphasis on finding ways to revitalize arms production at a time of high defense spending amid a low level of industrialization.

RAE 2015 is an arms show dedicated to Russia’s ground forces. A variety of other military vehicles will be displayed in September and delegations from Russia’s top foreign clients are attending. Thanks to its vast stockpiles of military vehicles, Russia maintains its position as the world’s second largest arms exporter.