17 May 2015

Russia Resets its Armor

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T-14 Armata Tank, Side View

T-14 Armata Tank, Front Qurter View

T-14 Armata Tank, Rear Quarter View

T-14 Armata T-72 Size Comparison

Medium IFV, Kurganets-25

T-15 Heavy IFV


T-14 vs T-72 on Parade

AMX-13 with bustle for autoloader for comparison

T-14 Armata Tank, Labeled

T-15 Armata IFV,  Labeled

New Wheeled "Boomerang" 8X8

Koalitsiya-SV Self Propelled Artillery

T-15 Engine and Drive Detail

T-15 Engine and Drive

Nothing has gotten more buzz across the military journalism sphere than the 75th May 9 VE day parade in Moscow.

It appears that Russia is going with completely new designs for pretty much all of its armor.

There appear to be a completely new tank, a heavy IFV (a vehicle that has never before been in the Russian/Soviet inventory), medium IFV, wheeled IFV, and SP Howitzer.

It appears that the Russians are upgrading their entire armored inventory, with the exception of the light airborne elements, over the next few years.

The T-14 Armata tank is perhaps the most significant departure from past practice, dispensing with a crewed turret, and placing the crew, commander, gunner, and driver, in the hull.

Of note is the rather large bustle on the back of the turret. (Picture 1)

It looks rather, like the bustle arrangement for AMX-13 light tank of the 1960s (Picture 8), but it appears even less integrated.

In the AMX-13, the bustle was used to accommodate magazines for the auto-loader, but there does not appear to be enough volume for this application with Russian 125mm rounds.

My (not particularly educated) guess is that the structure accommodates the mechanism for the auto-loader.

I would also note that the turret has an unfinished appearance to it, and I'm wondering if discussions are still ongoing regarding the level of armor on the turret.

Even with the possibilities for space savings from the new configuration, the T-14 is larger than the T-72 family it succeeds.

My guess it is being driven by the following factors:
  • The platform will be used on a new heavy APC/IFV, the T-15.
  • Additional ground clearance allows for greater resistance to mines and IEDs.
  • More space for survivability, particularly in terms of separating ammunition storage from critical components and crew.
  • Improved crew accommodations and comfort.
Among other things, I think that the new platform indicates a focus on counterinsurgency, particularly as it applies to the T-15, which is a vehicle that has not existed in the Russian arsenal before.

The T-15 is in many ways similar to the Israeli Namer IFV, which is derived from the Merkava main battle tank.

One significant difference though is that it appears that the platform has been turned around for the T-15:  The engine and drive sprockets are in the front for the T-15, and in the rear for the T-14.  (Pictures 1, 6, 10, 13, & 14) (The Merkava and Namer both have front mounted engines and drive sprockets)

The T-15 likely reflects a new strategic vision:  A heavy IFV does not gain one a lot in "Fulda Gap" scenario, where tanks would still likely be able to take them out with impunity, but it would be useful in counterinsurgency and occupation scenarios.

The new medium IFV, in the 25 ton class, is the Kurganets-25, and once again, it is larger than its predecessor, though it carries the same remotely operated turret as the T-15.

It is larger than its BMP predecessors, and has greater ground clearance as well as greater height, indicating easier entrance and egress from the vehicle, which in turn suggests that the vehicle is likely to be deployed like an IFV than an APC.  (Basically troops in the vehicle until much closer to the line of battle)

Like its larger sibling, and unlike the BMP, the engine will be front mounted, which should further aid in deploying troops.

For lighter deployments, the Russians appear to be replacing their BTR with the "Boomerang".

Much like the other IFVs, the engines have been moved forward to allow for rear dismount, and much like its western counterparts, and unlike the BTR, it has a deep "V" hull for better resistance to mines and IEDs.

Finally, there is the Koalitsiya-SV self propelled howitzer.  It is the only one of the new tanks that is derived from an existing platform, specifically a chassis from the T-80, which is shares with its predecessor, 2S19 Msta-S.

It has an auto-loader, and it is reported to have some sort of fractional propellant system, which could allow for simultaneous rounds on target.

What may be most telling is what we did not see.

Specifically,  the absence of updated airborne armor indicates that the strategic view of the Russian armed forces is significantly different from that of the Soviet ones.

They clearly do not expect to project power much beyond countries on their boarders, which, for example, a heavy IFV makes sense.

If you are looking for world wide operations, the heavy IFV does not make a whole lot of sense, which is why the US Military, which these days is an imperial military, screwed the pooch with their now-abandoned Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV).

As an aside, there is a big difference between a 45-50 ton heavy IFV (the T-15) and a 65-75 ton IFV (GCV) in terms of cost, logistics, maintenance, and support as well.

This is a remarkably ambitious program for the Russian military, and the fact that they actually have something resembling functional hardware in public is remarkable.

In comparison to my experience with the Future Combat Systems Manned Ground Vehicles (MGV), where much of the time was spent on (I am not kidding here) dealing with General's demands that the PowerPoint slides protection color coding be made more consistent (really, not kidding here) until after more than a decade, it was canceled, the Russians seem to have achieved a remarkably competent military design and procurement process.

Various links I used below, in no particular order:

Russia's armour revolution - IHS Jane's 360

Photo Gallery: Red Square Revelations | Aviation Week

New Russian Armor – First analysis – Armata | Defense Update:

New Russian armor – First analysis Part II: Kurganets-25 | Defense Update:

Updated: Russian Armata unveiled: a new family of armored combat vehicles | Defense Update:

New Russian armor – Part III: Boomerang 8x8 AFV | Defense Update:

SNAFU!: Close up, Hi Rez pics of the Armata MBT Turret!

SNAFU!: Size comparison between the Armata and T-72...

Russian Armata unveiled: a new family of armored combat vehicles | Defense Update:

Kurganets-25 – a new family of medium troop carriers from Russia | Defense Update:

SNAFU!: Quick and dirty on the Armata MBT...

SNAFU!: What is with the new Russian Heavy IFV?


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