Tag Archives: Tigr

Charge of the “Superlight” Brigade

Izvestiya reports that Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu is organizing some “superlight” army brigades.  It’s an interesting turn given that his widely discredited predecessor Anatoliy Serdyukov also looked at forming light motorized rifle brigades based on wheeled vehicles. Perhaps the latter’s mistake was that the vehicles weren’t necessarily Russian-made.

Shoygu’s “superlight” brigades will use the UAZ Patriot — either the SUV or Pickup variant.  The SUV is referred to as a jeep at times.  An earlier model — the Hunter — actually resembles a jeep.

uaz-patriot

UAZ Patriot

uaz-pickup

UAZ Pickup

uaz-hunter

UAZ Hunter

The intent, reportedly based on Syrian combat experience, is for these “superlight” motorized rifle brigades to slip around or through heavier enemy forces to conduct raids at distances of several hundred kilometers.

According to Izvestiya, the UAZ Patriot or Pickup is supposed to carry up to seven soldiers (a highly dubious proposition), their weapons and gear, as well as additional fuel, supplies, and ammo.  It will be armed with either a 30-mm AGS-30 automatic grenade launcher or Kornet or Konkurs ATGMs, as well as a 12.7-mm Kord machine gun.  The brigade’s mortar batteries are supposed to have 82-mm 2B14 Podnos mortars mounted on the UAZ vehicles.

An MOD official familiar with the developments told Izvestiya the formation of the “superlight” brigades has begun, and they will appear “soon” in the Southern and Central MDs.  They will have less personnel and equipment than traditional MRBs, but will be more mobile and maneuverable.  The “superlight” brigades will also have one battalion in BTR-82s as well as artillery and MRL battalions.

Izvestiya got a comment from Vladislav Shurygin:

“These battalions are being developed from the experience of combat actions in Syria.  In a day, the typical motorized rifle battalion equipped with armored personnel carriers or infantry fighting vehicles can complete a march of not more than 100 km. But an MRB in the UAZ Patriot can go several hundred kilometers in a day.  Moreover, acting in small groups, motorized rifle platoons and companies in pickups can slip through enemy forces and deliver quick strikes.  But these battalions are only effective in desert, steppe, and semidesert terrain.  In forests and forest-steppe, automobile-mounted infantry loses out to infantry in BMPs and BTRs in combat capability.”

Izvestiya notes that, in 2009, Serdyukov put the 56th Independent Air-Assault Brigade in the UAZ Hunter, but the experiment was quickly abandoned.  The MOD official says they were needed and worked well in the Volgograd steppe, but it was difficult to fit personnel and equipment in the Hunter.  Soldiers, he said, sat cheek to cheek in very cramped conditions.  That brigade returned to its venerable GAZ-66 trucks.

The same problem is likely with the UAZ Patriot and Pickup.  They look like four-seaters.

This sounds like a sweet little deal for UAZ.  It is part of the larger Sollers automobile manufacturing group, itself owned by Russian steel conglomerate Severstal.

It’s odd there’s no photo of an UAZ Patriot or Pickup military prototype when the first “superlight” brigades are reportedly almost ready to appear.

And there is also potential competition.  The Military-Industrial Company (VPK) has its Tigr light armored vehicle with a 30-mm gun or Kornet or Konkurs ATGM launchers mounted.  The Tigr, however, is a larger, heavier, and much more expensive vehicle.

GAZ might make something comparable to the Patriot or Pickup.  GAZ already makes the BTR-82.  Like VPK, GAZ is owned ultimately by Oleg Deripaska.

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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.

Postnikov on the Army and OPK (Part I)

Ground Troops CINC, General-Colonel Aleksandr Postnikov really stirred up the hornet’s nest on Tuesday.  Russia’s defense sector – its OPK or oboronki – feeling offended recently, is abuzz about his comments.  Postnikov told a session of the Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee:

“Those models of weapons that industry produces, including armor, artillery and infantry weapons, don’t correspond to NATO’s or even China’s models in their characteristics.”

The military hadn’t criticized the domestic OPK’s heavy armor and artillery systems to this point.

Insulting Russian tanks is the particular point here.  According to Newsru.com, Postnikov apparently called the much-praised, newest T-90 in actuality just the 17th modification of the Soviet T-72.  And, at the current cost of 118 million rubles per tank, he suggested:

“It would be simpler for us to buy three ‘Leopards’ [German tanks] for this money.”

Newsru.com counters that Rosoboroneksport is proud of the T-90, its sales, and continued interest abroad, but admits it is weak against third generation ATGMs, modern sub-munitions, and “top attack” weapons.  The news outlet also notes that the Russian Defense Ministry has eschewed procurement of the T-95 and BMPT.

In its editorial entitled “Import Generals,” Vedomosti takes Postnikov to task, saying it’s not sure whether he means new or used Leopards, but the German tanks probably come in at $7.5 million a piece at least, against the T-90 at $4 million [i.e. only part of one Leopard for 118 million rubles].  And, says Vedomosti, comparing Russian tanks to Chinese ones is lamer still on Postnikov’s part.

According to the business daily, these criticisms of Russian armaments usually come with calls to buy the same systems abroad.  But the 2008 war with Georgia showed Russia’s deficiencies lay in soldier systems, comms, recce, C2, and some types of infantry weapons rather than in armor.  When Russia doesn’t make something like Mistral or it has inferior technology like UAVs, it’s understandable to buy foreign, but when it’s something like armor, it raises a lot of issues, according to Vedomosti.  Uralvagonzavod certainly needs tank orders.  The idea of large-scale foreign purchases is utopian, says Mikhail Barabanov.  The paper believes thoughts of buying Leopard tanks and Mistral mean Russia’s generalitet has plans beyond local wars.

BFM.ru says Postnikov put the Ground Troops’ modern arms and equipment at only 12 percent of its inventory at present with, again, the goal of 70 percent in 2020.  At the end of this year, the army will get its first brigade complement of the newest automated C2 (ASU) system [i.e. presumably YeSU TZ]:

“In November of this year, we plan to conduct research on the newest  ASU and hand down our verdict.”

According to BFM.ru, he said NATO and China already have analogous systems:

“But for us it is still the future.”

Nezavisimaya gazeta focused on Postnikov’s comments on Ground Troops brigades.  He said he now has 70, but plans for 109 by 2020, including “future type” brigades:

“There will be 42 brigades of the future type, in all there will be 47 military formations of the future type, including military bases abroad which will be built on the same principle.”

The Glavkom didn’t say how the new brigades will be different from the old.

Parsing what he’s talking about is a little tough.  At the end of 2008, the army talked about having 39 combined arms, 21 missile and artillery, 12 signal, 7 air defense, and 2 EW brigades for a total of 81, rather than Postnikov’s current 70.  One might guess a dozen arms storage bases in Siberia and the Far East could be fleshed out into maneuver brigades.  But where does the manpower come from?  Maybe some of the 70,000 officers cut and now being returned to the ranks by Defense Minister Serdyukov. 

Postnikov elaborated some on heavy, medium, and light brigades.  Heavy will have tanks and tracked armor.  NG concludes there won’t be a new tank.  Tanks in storage will get new electronics and Arena active defense systems.  According to Postnikov, medium brigades will get [among other things?] the Bumerang amphibious BTR now in development.  This, says NG, is the first time anyone’s heard Bumerang.  But if it isn’t successfully developed or produced in sufficient numbers by 2020, the army will just buy armored vehicles abroad since there’s already ample precedent for this.

Light brigades will have vehicles like the Tigr or the Italian LMV (Lynx), licensed production of which could begin in Russia this year.  One special Arctic brigade will be created at Pechenga. 

Several media outlets quoted Postnikov to the effect that there’s no plan to change 1-year conscription, but he noted:

“In the transition to one year military service, military men received only a headache.”

There’s lots more reaction to Postnikov’s statements, but it’s too much for one day.

Ground Troops and the GOZ

Buk-M2 (SA-17 / Grizzly)

Discussions of service wish-lists for State Armaments Program (GPV) 2011-2020 have tended to overlook the Ground Troops.  It seems they don’t enjoy the same priority as other services.

But in late February and early March, there was a flurry of press detailing what the land forces intend to procure, at least in the short term. 

Arms-expo.ru, Lenta.ru, and other media outlets put out brief items on Ground Troops’ acquisition.  They indicated the Ground Troops will emphasize air defense, command and control, fire support, and BTRs and support vehicles.

But the best run-down of all came from Ground Troops CINC General-Colonel Aleksandr Postnikov himself in Krasnaya zvezda.

Postnikov told the Defense Ministry daily that the main feature of GOZ-2011 is the transition from the repair and modernization of existing systems to the purchase of new, modern ones to reequip Ground Troops formations and units completely.

First and foremost, according to the CINC, the Ground Troops will buy modern digital communications equipment and tactical-level automated command and control systems (ASU), like Polyana-D4M1 for air defense brigades.  He said Ground Troops’ Air Defense will also receive modernized S-300V4 systems, Buk-M2 and Buk-M3, short-range Tor-M2U(M) SAMs, and manportable Igla-S and Verba SAMs.

Postnikov says they will continue equipping missile and artillery brigades with the Iskander-M, new MLRS, self-propelled Khosta and Nona-SVK guns, Khrisantema-S antitank missiles and Sprut-SD antitank guns.

The Ground Troops CINC says he foresees purchases of a new modification of the BTR-82A, BREM-K armored recovery vehicles built on a BTR-80 base and BREM-L on a BMP-3 base, Iveco, Tigr, and Volk armored vehicles, and new KamAZ trucks from the Mustang series.

NBC defense (RKhBZ) troops will get the heavy flamethrower system TOS-1A, RPO PDM-A thermobaric missiles with increased range and power, and VKR airborne radiological reconnaissance systems.  Engineering units will get the newest water purification system on a KamAZ chassis (SKO-10/5).

In the longer term, Postnikov sees rearmament as one of his main tasks, and he repeated President Medvedev’s statement that the Ground Troops should have 30 percent modern equipment by 2015, and 70 percent by 2020.  He laid special stress on getting YeSU TZ into the troops.  Postnikov’s Glavkomat has a Concept for the Development of the Ground Troops Armament System to 2025 emphasizing standardization, multi-functionality, modular construction, and electronic compatibility across several general areas:  armor and military vehicles, tube artillery and MLRS, SSMs, antitank systems, air defense, reconnaissance-information support, UAVs, communications, automated command and control, and soldier and close combat systems.

Moscow Considering Italian Light Armored Vehicles?

Russkiy Newsweek yesterday said a source close to the Defense Ministry claims Moscow is considering buying Italian IVECO M65 vehicles, also known  as the LMV (Light Multirole Vehicle).  The source said negotiations are in the final stage, and LMVs are reportedly being tested in Russia, but opinions on their suitability for Russian conditions are varied.

Another problem–the LMV is basically an analogue of Russia’s Tigr, produced by Arzamas Machinebuilding Plant, a company belonging ultimately to Oleg Deripaska.  The LMV is 1.5 or 2 times more expensive than Tigr and carries fewer personnel.  But it is considered more explosion resistant.  Deripaska’s people dispute this, however, saying it depends on how close the vehicles are to the explosion.

Russkiy Newsweek says the LMV was shown to Putin last year, and Medvedev this year.  It adds LMV to a list of proposed or actual Russian arms buys abroad, including British sniper rifles, Israeli UAVs, and French Mistral helicopter carriers.  The possibility that United Shipbuilding Corporation (OSK or ОСК) chairman and Deputy PM Igor Sechin (a long-time Kremlin insider and Putin crony) could still derail the Mistral deal is raised, but somehow this seems unlikely now for many reasons.  Why wreck a lucrative deal when you can get a piece of it instead?

The article concludes noting that this is the logical continuation of a new Russian military-technical policy–Russia can no longer be considered a closed market and soon Russian companies will have to compete with foreign producers for this internal market, according to CAST’s Ruslan Pukhov.

But there’s more to this story than that . . . some foreign samples are always good if you can get them, some palms might get greased in the process too.  It’s not a bad idea to scare the domestic defense industries, but are they really in a condition to compete with foreign producers?  Rather than stimulate them to get better and more efficient, they could just collapse in the face of a real competition for sales.  And it really goes against everything Russian to rely on foreigners, especially when they’re part of an allegedly hostile NATO.  But mucking about in NATO’s Old European rear area isn’t bad for stirring a little alliance discord.  Just weeks ago too the Russian press had stories featuring President Medvedev with the Tigr and the VDV seems pretty committed to the vehicle.  Let’s just say many factors are in play, which will be the critical ones?