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    March 18, 2015

    The Army of the Future. What will the Russian Army receive in 2015?

    3/18/2015






    By Mikhail Timoshenko



    Translated from Russian by J.Hawk



    Let’s start with the Ground Forces. Their main strike weapon is the Iskander-M self-propelled ballistic missile system, which is receiving a new missile. Range—500km, accuracy—10m. The missile follows a non-ballistic trajectory with active maneuvering and electronic countermeasures to overcome anti-ballistic missile defenses. Available warheads include cluster, high explosive-fragmentation, ground penetrating, and nuclear. Missile’s intended targets are command posts and communications centers, missile systems and long-range rocket artillery, air- and ballistic missile-defense weapons, military airfields…The Ground Forces will receive two full Iskander brigades in 2015, to add to the 5 already in service, and by 2018 there will be 10 brigades in service.



    Motorized Rifle and Tank Brigades will receive more than 700 tanks, BMPs, and BTRs. Most of the tanks will be the newest T-90AM variant. Its distinguishing features include a new turret with a combat information and command system, new autoloader, and a modernized 125mm gun-launcher. The driver will have an automatic transmission and a steering wheel instead of the old lever controls. The modernization of the well-known T-72B tanks to the T-90 level [T-72B3 variant] will continue. Infantry will ride on modernized BMP-3s and BTR-82s. Both will receive the Bakhcha combat module. But the BMP-3 turret includes a 100mm gun-launcher, a 30mm automatic cannon, while the BTR-82 an automatic cannon and a machine gun.



    Now the Air Force: 126 new aircraft and 88 helicopters. More than half of them will be Generation 4++ fighters of the Su-30 and Su-35 families, intended for air superiority combat. Speed—more than Mach 2, range—over 3,000km, combat load—8 tons. The main strike aircraft with be the Su-34 fighter-bomber capable of using the full range of precision-guided air-to-ground munitions. Speed—nearly Mach 2, combat radius—1100km, combat load of 8 tons on 12 hardpoints. This year the 57 Su-34s already in service will be joined by 30  new ones. Acquisitions will also include 15 modernized strategic bombers. Army aviation is actively receiving Mi-28 Night Hunters and Ka-52 Alligators. More than half of the helicopters supplied will be attack machines.



    Air Defense Forces will receive a brigade of S-300V4 Vityaz systems, while 3 out of 9 S-400 regiments will be re-armed with 400km-range missiles capable of shooting down not only aircraft but also ballistic missiles at altitudes above 150km.



    The Pacific Fleet is expecting the Vladimir Monomakh and Aleksandr Nevskiy SSBNs, each armed with 16 Bulava SLBMs. They will be based in Kamchatskiy Vilyuchinsk. The Black Sea Fleet will receive 2 Varshavyanka-class SSK, where they are badly needed: the only mission-ready submarine currently there is over 25 years old. Surface forces will receive four corvetes and a frigate. The latter used to be called large anti-submarine ships. In actuality these are practically light cruisers capable of operating anywhere on the world ocean. All ships mentioned use missiles as their main armament, while their cannon are playing a supporting role.



    Finally, the nuclear shield. Which is also a sword. The proportion of modern nuclear systems is now more than half, and by the end of 2015 will be 2/3 of the entire arsenal. Four regiments with new missiles will enter systems. The “one-headed” Topol will be replaced by four-warhead Yars. Altogether the industry will produce 50 ICBMs.



    J.Hawk’s Comment: The new “Armata” and “Kurganets” vehicles are not yet in the pipeline, though maybe in a couple of years they too will enter service. Does that mean the Russian Army will operate three different types of MBTs—the T-72B3, T-90AM, and the T-14? In actuality the differences between the vehicles are less than they seem. The T-72B3 and the T-90AM use the same engine and armament. The T-90AM and the T-14 will have a very similar armament and electronic suite—I strongly suspect that the T-90AM is not going to be a newly built vehicle but rather the T-90A upgraded with subsystems originally developed for the T-14. The Russian Army is not so rich that it can afford to replace all of its older vehicles with newer ones. However, the upgrades to the already existing T-72Bs and T-90As will raise the quality of the armored force as a whole. Moreover, the T-72B3 is a perfectly adequate vehicle against many of Russia’s potential opponents which cannot afford the latest MBTs, and its armament and fire control make it effective in defending even against the most modern threats.



    The Bakcha turret is likely the same one that was developed for the BMD-4, and comes with a  thermal sight and cutting edge electronics, which promise to improve the BMP-3s effectiveness.



    The Air Force is also doing well with dozens of highly capable fighters in the pipeline. What’s interesting is that the Navy is slated to receive only one frigate, even though 12 are on order. This may be due to difficulty in replacing the gas turbines that were supposed to be produced in Nikolayev, Ukraine, with domestic ones.  
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