On May 9, Russia unveiled its new third-generation Armata tank during its Victory Day parade in Moscow.
The Kremlin hopes the Armata will revolutionise Russia’s ground-based military capabilities. The Armata features considerable upgrades in armour, engine, and armaments compared to previous Russian and Soviet tank models.
But the tank has one major downside: The Armata is vastly over-budget. It’s just too expensive to ever become the workhorse of the Russian armoured corps.
Moscow will have trouble procuring as many of the tanks as it had previously envisioned — especially with the current economic troubles that Russia is facing thanks to US and EU sanctions imposed in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.
According to an Oxford Analytica brief by Harvard scholar Dmitry Gorenburg, which he shared on his blog Russian Military Reform, the cost of the Armata is 2.45 times higher than had been projected in the State Armaments Program for 2020, the military reform package the Kremlin devleoped in 2010.
“As a result, the Defence Ministry is expecting to reduce the number of Armata tanks it will procure, focusing instead on continuing to modernise existing T-72 tanks in the medium term,” the brief notes. “According to Russian media reports, Uralvagonzavod [the company responsible for manufacturing the Armata] has agreed to lower some Armata costs, but the program will still be expensive.”
This economic reality undercuts the overall deployment of the Armata, an enormous vehicle that believed to be reistant to nearly all NATO anti-tank weapons.
Gorenburg estimates that there will be a maximum of 330 Armata tanks in service by 2020, a fraction of the 2,300 the State Armament Program had projected. And that also assumes production of the tank proceeds seamlessly and that no serious flaws are found as the current stock of Armatas undergo field testing which could last until 2018.
Even at lesser production than planned, the Kremlin still promotes the Armata as Russia’s tank of the future.
The Armata will feature a 1,500 horsepower turbo-charged disel engine, an unmanned turret, a separate armoured capsule for its crew that will improve soldier survivability, and a host of sensors and radar for defence.
Additionally, one of the most important pieces of technology added to the Armata is the Afganit active protection complex, a system that uses Doppler radar to detect incoming projectiles such as rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles. Once detected, the system launches an interceptor rocket that destroys the incoming projectile.
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