Tag Archives: T-90

Tanks a Lot

gabtu-chief-general-lieutenant-shevchenko

GABTU Chief General-Lieutenant Shevchenko

Some data on Russia’s armor programs appearing in the media prior to Tank Troops’ Day (11 September) didn’t get too much notice.

RIA Novosti interviewed the chief of the MOD’s Main Automotive and Armor Directorate (GABTU), General-Lieutenant Aleksandr Shevchenko on 9 September.

General-Lieutenant Shevchenko noted that the MOD plans to “modernize” new Tigr armored vehicles, and not just by mounting a 30-mm gun.  They will, not surprisingly, go by the name Tigr-2.  But no other details.

Shevchenko confirmed Uralvagonzavod’s announcement that it has delivered more than 1,000 T-72B3 tanks.  He also indicated that the MOD will receive 300 improved T-72B3. The improved T-72B3, he says, will have a better engine and better defensive and targeting systems.

Some number of Russian T-90 tanks nearing the end of their service lives will be modernized under the “Proryv-3” program, according to the GABTU chief.  The resulting tank is supposed to be superior to the original T-90.

Regarding the Armata armored vehicle family, Shevchenko reported that the “experimental” lot of T-14 tanks will conclude initial field trials in 2016 and move into state testing.  This will be completed in 2017 and followed by formal state acceptance of the T-14.

t-14-tanks-enroute-to-red-square-photo-ria-novosti-yevgeniy-biyatov

T-14 tanks en route to Red Square (photo: RIA Novosti / Yevgeniy Biyatov)

Shevchenko added that the Armata BMP (T-15) and BREM, or armored recovery vehicle (T-16) also remain in preliminary testing and will finish state testing next year.

Similarly, the Kurganets family — BMP, BTR, and BREM — from Kurganmashzavod as well as the wheeled Bumerang BTR from Arzamasmashzavod are on the same schedule.

kurganets-bmp

Kurganets BMP

Asked about the impact of Russia’s difficult economic situation and “corrections” in the GOZ on these programs, the GABTU chief said:

“Testing of ‘Armata,’ ‘Kurganets’ and ‘Bumerang’ is fully financed, and we will give it priority because they are the base for the future.”

Of course, paying for testing is one thing.  Ordering a production run is another.  The Russian Army will eventually have to make some choices between these new armored vehicles.  It won’t be able to afford all of them.

Shevchenko added that these vehicles are being tested in arctic, mountain, and desert conditions.  Other army systems (artillery, air defense, etc.) will be mounted on the same chassis.  Robotic armored vehicles are in the works.  He said the MOD doesn’t have a requirement for a wheeled tank.

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Ivashov on the Army and Putin

Leonid Ivashov

Leonid Ivashov recently talked to Narodnyy politolog on a variety of army topics including reforms, the possibility of a big war, rearmament, president-elect Vladimir Putin, and his military program.  Segodnia.ru also printed the interview.

Once Russia’s top military diplomat, now avowed geopolitician, the former three-star thinks Putin fears externally-driven regime change and is improving the army to forestall such an eventuality.  Ivashov sees a U.S.-led West depriving Russia of allies before focusing on Russia itself.

Asked about army reforms, Ivashov says they have succeeded in cutting forces, but not in rearming them or improving their social conditions.  Reforms have degraded and weakened the army.  Military men mock the New Profile reforms saying, “There’s a profile, but not armed forces.”  Ivashov calls reforms craziness, and says it’s like servicemen have lived in a house under continuous repair for 25 years.

Following up his comment on mobilization reserves cut to the bare minimum, NP asked the retired general-colonel if a big war is possible today.

Ivashov says yes.  Citing how “they” are beating up Russia’s strategic allies (Syria and Iran), he says “What is this if not war?”

Ivashov foresees a large conflict between the U.S. and China and possible spinoff regional and local wars.  He cites a Chinese specialist who calls for a Russian-Chinese alliance to deter a big war and curb the appetite of the West and international oligarchs.

Is Russia ready for such an eventuality?  Ivashov answers:

“I think Putin understands perfectly how military weakness and the absence of strategic allies can be the end for Russia.  Clearly, the Libyan situation ‘helped’ him understand this, just like what is happening now in Syria, and what they are preparing for Iran.  If you can’t defend the country, you are subjecting yourself to a great risk personally.”

“Now Putin is making a sharp turn to the side of strengthening defense capability.  One can only welcome this.  Because today they don’t simply beat the weak, they destroy them.”

Ivashov calls Putin’s military program ambitious, if not systematic.  The regime’s been in a “light panic” since Libya.

He intimates that more than 20 percent of the state armaments program will be stolen since the amount of theft cited by the military prosecutor covers only cases under investigation, not all corruption.

Ivashov suggests lobbying has replaced forecasts of future military actions as the driver of arms procurement.

The case of Mistral, which one wonders where it will be built and how it will be used, Ivashov says well-connected lobbyist structures ensure what gets produced is exactly what their enterprises make.  He was somewhat encouraged that Putin, at Sarov, entertained turning to specialists and experts to examine the army’s requirements.

On GPV 2020, Ivashov concludes it’ll be a serious step forward if only half of what’s planned gets produced, but it can’t be equipment designed in the 1970s and 1980s.  He sees OPK production capacity problems too.  He questions whether Votkinsk can produce 400 solid-fueled ballistic missiles by 2020.

Returning to the big war, he questions a focus on defensive operations for Russian conventional forces, saying offensive capabilities are needed to deter potential enemies.  He claims reduced force structure and mobilization capability have become a joke in the General Staff:

“The main problem for the Chinese in a conflict with us is not defeating our brigade, but finding it.”

Ivashov’s just a little up in arms over the armor situation.  He all but accuses the General Staff Chief of being a paid (or bribed) lobbyist for foreign tank and armored vehicle makers.  He suggests that Army General Makarov should be placed in cuffs if he says the Leopard-2 is better than the T-90 [what about Postnikov then?], and the Main Military Prosecutor should investigate him.

So what is to be done first and foremost to strengthen the country’s defense capability today?

Ivashov replies get rid of Serdyukov and Makarov who have done great damage, and strengthen cadres in the OPK and military by replacing “managers” with those who can apply military science (as Ivashov was taught) to the problem of developing new weapons.

The always provocative Ivashov doesn’t venture whether he thinks  the current emphasis on defense capability will continue or have the intended results.  He seems sincerely to believe in a possible Western intervention in Russia’s internal affairs.  But it’d be more interesting to hear him talk about whether the army would fight for Putin’s regime in something less than that maximal contingency.  Ivashov, unlike some critics of Russia’s defense policy, shies away from blaming the once-and-future Supreme CINC for at least some of the current military state of affairs.

Serdyukov and Baranets

Anatoliy Serdyukov (photo: Vladimir Belengurin)

Komsomolskaya pravda’s Viktor Baranets got to prompt Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov for a few statements on various topics in today’s paper.  It doesn’t seem like he really got to ask questions.

Serdyukov claims all but about 3% of GOZ-2011 has been placed, and 100% advances to the defense sector for 2012 will make for a smooth year of orders and production.  He “dodges the bullet” on not ordering Kalashnikovs.  He returns to the possibility of giving serving officers and contractees money to rent their own apartments, but this never worked well in the past.

Serdyukov says the first phase of military reform involved changing the Armed Forces’ org-shtat (TO&E) structure.  Now, he says, the second phase has begun, and it’s connected with rearming the troops.

On the state defense order (GOZ), Serdyukov says:

“During the formation of the Gosoboronzakaz, we had two issues with the defense sector — the price and quality of armaments.  We got them to open up their production “cost history.”  That is, they showed us everything transparently.  We needed to understand what they were getting and from where.  After long arguments, a compromise was found in the end.  We settled on quality criteria.  The Gosoboronzakaz is almost completely placed.  Of 580 billion rubles a little more than 20 billion was left ‘to settle.’  But we’ve also drawn conclusions from the lessons of this year.  Now the next Gosoboronzakaz will be formed in the Defense Ministry before December with such calculation that they will begin to fulfill it in January.  At the same time, we’re trying to make the Gosoboronzakaz 100% paid in advance to the defense sector.  Not another country in the world has such comfortable conditions for its VPK.”

Serdyukov says the Defense Ministry is still working on MPs, their regs, missions, training, structure, and size.  They’ll be responsible for discipline and order in garrisons and investigations.

The Defense Minister opines that Russia’s Israeli UAVs aren’t bad, but they are looking at Italian ones while domestic development continues.

Serdyukov confirmed that two new factories for producing the S-400 system will be built.  They are designed, and, he hopes, will begin production by 2015.

On tanks, the Defense Minister says they’ve taken the position that they can modernize T-72s to the level of a T-90 or better for 38 million rubles.  He believes it’s cost effective.

On the AK-74, Serdyukov claims they aren’t rejecting it, but they have depots overflowing with 17 million automatic rifles.  He says they’ll be used or modernized, some will be sold, and others transferred to other power ministries.

Serdyukov believes the draft military pay law now in the Duma will raise pensions by 50 or 60 percent.  Active military pay will be as advertised:  a lieutenant is supposed to get 50,000 or more rubles a month.  Contract enlisted will start at 25,000 or more depending on their duties.

Serdyukov hopes the problem of housing for retired servicemen will be concluded in 2013.  Then he can focus on service housing for contractees.  He proposes paying contractees to rent apartments while the Defense Ministry acquires or builds service housing.  “Apartment money” is a possibility but it has to be thought out.

Makarov’s Press-Conference (Part II)

Krasnaya zvezda provided a summary of General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov’s press-conference yesterday.  The rest of us are still parsing and digesting.  Let’s look at more complete press reporting to do justice to Makarov’s remarks.

Gazeta.ru cited RIA Novosti in adding to Makarov’s comparison of French and Russian artillery systems:

“In France, we were shown the work of an artillery battalion which was ready to fire 30 seconds after a march.  Our analogous norm is 15 minutes.  The difference between one minute and 15 minutes is huge.  I think over this time an entire artillery battalion could be destroyed.”

But Gazeta noted Makarov said Moscow doesn’t intend to buy the French Caesar howitzer.

Gazeta, citing Interfaks this time, expanded on this comment on buying Western military technologies:

“We need to understand what to get, and what to acquire, but to acquire the technologies, and to produce on Russian territory.  Some technologies certainly have to be bought in the West.”

Igor Korotchenko explained to Vesti FM what Makarov and the Defense Ministry will or won’t buy:

“If suddenly for some reasons those models which industry proposes don’t correspond to declared requirements, the Defense Ministry will toughen its demands.  But on the whole the mainline remains – reliance on the domestic defense-industrial complex.  Makarov has spoken clearly about this.”

“Meanwhile, we’ll buy some leading technologies which will be required in Russia’s armed forces in the West.  In principle, these announcements are fully anticipated, they correspond to that policy that both Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov and General Staff Chief Makarov have conducted since 2008.”

Gazeta and Novyye izvestiya contrasted Makarov’s criticism of Russian tanks with Putin’s praise for them.  Both news outlets see President Medvedev, Serdyukov, and Makarov lining up to make tougher demands on the OPK while Prime Minister Putin defends it. 

They cited RIA Novosti this way with Makarov’s comments:

“The T-90 turret calls for our serious respect, it doesn’t lag the leading foreign analogs, and in a number of characteristics exceeds them.”

“The T-90S still has a number of flaws which need to be fixed soon.”

“Experimental-design work to perfect this tank will continue.”

At Nizhniy Tagil, Putin sympathized with tank builders as they described their latest developments, saying:

“This is just what the Defense Ministry always complains about.”

Rounding out the tank news, Nezavisimaya gazeta’s Viktor Litovkin talked about the Defense Ministry’s continuing refusal to buy modernized versions of old tanks. 

He says it wants a new class of armored vehicles on a common tracked or wheeled chassis to simplify operation and maintenance, and different combat modules as needed – BMP, tank, reconnaissance, self-propelled artillery, or ATGM launcher – mounted on the same basic platform. 

Litovkin suspects, though, that this good idea could be ruined by “interdepartmental contradictions,” and a lack of leadership vision. 

He concludes that, while Makarov was critical of their product, Putin was promising Russia’s tank builders 64 billion rubles in government support.

Makarov’s Press-Conference (Part I)

General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov apparently held a lengthy press-conference today covering many topics.  He’s still advocating buying weapons abroad (when necessary), despite Prime Minister Putin’s strong support of the domestic OPK against the military’s demands.

ITAR-TASS quotes Makarov on the pending Navy headquarters move to Piter:

“Concerning a decision by the Supreme CINC [President Medvedev] to revoke the transfer of the Navy Main Staff to St. Petersburg, there has been no such decision.  We are now working on this issue.”

The General Staff Chief seemed to say there won’t be any diminution of the role or place occupied by service Glavkomaty, according to the news service.  He said the Main Commands of the services of the Armed Forces are part of the military branch of command and control which he heads.

ITAR-TASS quotes Makarov on buying arms and equipment abroad:

“We will need to buy something that isn’t produced with the quality we require.”

He compared domestic Msta-S and longer-range French Caesar howitzers:

“In France, we were shown the work of an artillery battalion which was ready to fire 30 seconds after a march.  Our analogous norm is 15 minutes.  The difference between one minute and 15 minutes is huge.”

“Therefore, we have to acquire something in order not to lag behind, but on the condition of arranging joint production in Russia.”

Interfaks quoted him on buying armor abroad:

“Some technologies certainly have to be bought in the West.”

The Defense Ministry, he says, has no desire to buy arms and equipment abroad if Russia has analogs or more modern models.  But Russia will find it hard to compete with Western firms that are cooperating with each other.  Makarov cited Renault’s APC which uses a Volvo engine.  “Our producers need to make a revolutionary leap,” Makarov concluded.

The General Staff Chief was ambivalent about the T-90 tank, according to ITAR-TASS:

“I visited the Nizhniy Tagil exhibition and got familiar with our T-90 tank.  The tank they showed us, particularly its turret, calls for serious respect.  But we have questions remaining about many drawbacks.”

“. . . the experimental-design work the factory is conducting will allow them to realize those requirements the Russian military is placing on this new product.”

ITAR-TASS also picked up Makarov’s remarks on the Tsentr-2011 exercises:

“We want to work out common approaches to employing armed forces within the ODKB [CSTO] framework.”

“Besides militaries, all other power structures, which are understood as part of the state’s military organization, in the ODKB countries will participate in these exercises.  As far as Russia goes, we want to check the country’s military organization fully by conducting a series of mobilization measures, including also industry.”

“Starting today, we’ve started into mobilization deployment of a number of formations and units according to independent plans.”

Quoting Tolya

Tolya’s remarks to the press today made quite a few headlines, and left a few useful benchmarks for the future.  Defense Minister Serdyukov addressed procurement and manpower issues.  Here are his quotes from RIA Novosti and ITAR-TASS.

Tanks for Nothin’

“We met the designers who proposed their preliminary work to us.  60 percent of what was proposed is old work.  Therefore, we still declined these proposals.”

“Now it’s more expedient to modernize our country’s tank inventory than to buy new ones, for example the T-90.”

Cold Water on Carriers

“We have no plans to build aircraft carriers.”

“Only after this [a preliminary design of what this ship might look like], the Genshtab together with the Navy will make a decision on the need for such a ship.”

SSBNs Aren’t Automobiles

“‘Bulava’ flew, this is good news.  We understand precisely that it’s possible to launch serial production of the missile on this variant.”

“We got the result, now it’s possible to load SSBN ‘Yuriy Dolgorukiy’ with ‘Bulava.'”

“We’d like to do this [test Bulava from Aleksandr Nevskiy], but we understand that to plan this precisely is impossible.  A nuclear submarine isn’t an automobile.”

Bullish on Arms Deliveries

“Deliveries of strategic missiles ‘Topol-M,’ ‘Yars,’ ‘Avangard’ will increase three times, ‘Bulava’ and ‘Sineva’ missiles for strategic submarines one and a half times, aircraft four times, helicopters almost five times, air defense systems almost two and a half times [in 2011-2015 compared with 2006-2010].”

Not Going Below a Million Men

“There are no such plans, there are no questions of cutting manpower.  We’re striving for the entire army under the million number, and it isn’t planned to cut this figure.”

“On account of this [increasing contractees from 2014], we’ll manage without fail to get through the demographic hole which is anticipated in 2014.”

Two Arctic Brigades

“The Genshtab is now developing plans to establish two of these formations.  In the plans, deployment places, armaments, manning, and the infrastructure of these brigades need to be specified.”

“It’s possible this will be Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, or another place.”

Postnikov on the Army and OPK (Part II)

T-90 on Red Square

Continuing with reaction to Ground Troops CINC, General-Colonel Postnikov last week . . .

Speaking to a RIA Novosti press conference, Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s (Minpromtorg) Defense-Industrial Complex Development Department, Igor Karavayev answered Postnikov this way:

“Unfortunately, we are encountering unwarranted criticism of the tactical-technical characteristics of Russian military equipment lately.  Allegedly, it doesn’t match its international counterparts.  An objective evaluation of the characteristics and tests conducted, but also the pace at which our exports are growing, attest to the contrary.”  

He said more than a few countries buy Russian tanks, and the T-90A got a positive evaluation from testing in difficult climatic conditions, including in Saudi Arabia, India, and Malaysia.  In Saudi Arabia, according to Karavayev, the T-90A was the only tank to destroy more than 60 percent of its targets after a road march.  Karavayev continues:

“The tests conducted in Saudi Arabia as part of an open tender fully and completely contradict the Glavkom’s [Postnikov’s] assertions.”

This T-90 modification supposedly has a new turret, a 1,000-hp engine, an improved thermal sight, new active defense measures, and a number of other improvements.  Karavayev flatly said neither the German Leopard, French LeClerc, nor American Abrams is equal to the T-90: 

“So to talk about how our tanks are worse than Western equivalents is not completely reliable information.”

“The price Postnikov quoted exceeds by approximately one and a half times the price at which the producer is ready to supply the vehicle [tank] to the troops.  This situation requires additional professional discussion.”

So that’s about 78 million vice 118 million rubles per T-90.

Izvestiya talked to Uralvagonzavod’s chief armor designer, Vladimir Nevolin, who said:

“The main complaints against the T-90 today are connected with its insufficient survivability.  Its deficiency is the placement of people, weapons, and fuel in one compartment.  In any case of armor penetration, the igniting of fuel is unavoidable.  Even with a fire suppression system, such a possibility isn’t excluded.  Therefore, the development of modern armored equipment is going the way of separating people from the fuel and munitions.  Moreover, the employment of remotely-controlled armaments is essential.  These principles were implemented in our future product – “item 195.”  For example, on it, the tank turret no longer had the crew.  But it turns out no one needed such a project.”

Vesti FM asked Igor Korotchenko whether Postnikov’s claim that Russian arms aren’t up to snuff is true.  He said there are objective problems with Russian-designed weapons, and some planned for introduction are really obsolete.  But, according to Korotchenko, the Defense Ministry’s main criticism is that Russian combat vehicles don’t meet survivability requirements.

At the same time, Korotchenko says Russia can’t fall into dependence on the West.  New armor has to be financed and put into serial production.  Limited purchases of Western military technology and licenses for the newest thermal sights and munitions are acceptable in his view, he says Russia’s national technological base for producing major weapons needs to be protected.

Finally, it was Viktor Baranets’ turn in Komsomolskaya pravda.

Baranets noted Postnikov complained quite openly about Russia’s weapons for a military leader of his rank.  And he opined that Moscow is not only competitive, but superior in some military systems.  But Baranets claims the T-90 cost has doubled from 60 million rubles two years ago due to higher electricity and metal prices as well as adding expensive French or Israeli thermal sights.  Nevertheless, says Baranets, Postnikov exaggerated about buying Leopards for the price of a T-90.

Baranets also interviewed Mikhail Barabanov.

Barabanov says the T-90 really is the 17th modification of the T-72, initially called the T-72BU, but T-90 sounded more modern, at least in 1992.  The T-90A has grown old, but could still be updated with a new turret, gun, and weapons control system.  The 118-million-ruble pricetag comes from a small production run, and it’s steep for a tank that’s not the most modern.

Barabanov says for 118 million you could only buy 3 1980s-vintage Leopard-2A4 from the Bundswehr reserve.  And such tanks don’t have any particular advantage over T-90.  A new Leopard-2A6 is more than $4 million, but with service, training, spares and munitions, it can’t be obtained for less than $10 million.

Baranets asks Barabanov if the share of modern ground armaments really be brought up to 70 percent by 2020.  The latter says:

“It’s realistic given fulfillment of the State Program of Armaments.  But its [the GPV’s] fulfillment depends first and foremost on the country’s capacity for high economic growth rates.”