Updated and new. The development of the Russian tank fleet
T-72B3 and his crew in exercises. Photo by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation / mil.ru
Tank units and subunits are present in all combined arms armies of the ground forces, as well as in the coastal naval forces fleet. It can be tank regiments and brigades as part of armies or battalions or companies as part of motorized rifle formations. Tanks are present in all strategic directions.
Actual numbers of the Russian tank fleet are not officially published. In unofficial open sources there are a variety of estimates. Thus, the authoritative reference book IISS The Military Balance indicates that in the ranks and reserves of the Russian army there are a total of about 13 thousand tanks of all types. The authors of the Global Firepower military rating cite other figures. According to them, Russia has almost 22 thousand tanks.
In this case, the bulk of the total number are storage tanks. According to The Military Balance, more than 10 thousand armored vehicles remain in reserve, while the active fleet of tank units does not exceed 2800 units. This amount of equipment allows you to arm all tank units and provide the required combat readiness of the army.
The presence of a large reserve has its advantages. If necessary, these tanks can be returned to service. In addition, some projects provide for the restructuring and modernization of equipment from storage and do not affect combat machines.
Equipment for modernization
Currently, the Russian army is armed with tanks of three models and several modifications. Prior to the start of the current modernization programs, MBT T-72, T-80 and T-90 of different versions were operated. The main part of the tank fleet was made up of T-72 vehicles of various modifications - about 2 thousand units. About 6-7 thousand of such tanks are in storage.
Less numerous are MBTs of the T-80 family - no more than 400-500 "active" units and up to 3 thousand in storage. The least widespread in the past were the T-90 - for their own army they built about 550-600 of such tanks. In order remains approx. 350 units.
MBT of the available types as a whole are able to continue service, but their characteristics no longer fully meet current requirements. In this regard, the army launched several equipment modernization projects. With their help, it was planned to significantly update the fleet at a reasonable and reasonable cost.
At the turn of the last decades, a modernization project for MBT T-72Б with the “B3” index was created. The restructuring of equipment for this project began in 2011 and continues to this day. In 2016, a new version of the modernization of the T-72Б3 was developed with new changes and improvements aimed at further improving the performance.
In the middle of the tenth years, the development of the T-90М “Breakthrough-3” project began. He offers a replacement power plant, enhanced protection and installation of a new MSA. To date, design has been completed, upgraded tanks have been tested, and the project has received the approval of the Ministry of Defense. The serial modernization of the T-90 and T-90A combatant tanks has already been launched.
The army has several hundred T80B and T-80BV tanks, the operation of which may continue after a certain update. For this, a T-80BVM modernization project was developed, offering enhanced protection and updating of the OMS. The first contract for a new type of equipment appeared in 2017. In 2018, the army received the first batch of repaired and modernized T-80BVM.
The pace of modernization
In the past, the comparatively low cost of rebuilding a tank was cited as an argument in favor of the T-72B3 project. Overhaul and re-equipment of the serial T-72Б were noticeably cheaper than the construction of the new T-90А with the same combat characteristics and qualities. Optimum economic indicators allowed the army to launch a full-scale serial modernization, the results of which are of great interest.
According to various sources, from 2011, at least 72-3 tanks from combat units underwent modernization to T-1000Б1100. The bulk of this amount has been updated for the original B3 project. At least 150-200 tanks were upgraded to T-72Б3 arr. 2016 g. At the same time, the number of T-72B3 in the troops is constantly increasing. The army decided to rebuild almost the entire existing T-72B fleet.
The first order to upgrade the T-90 (A) to the T-90M state appeared back in 2017. It provided for the repair and updating of 20 combat tanks. The military also wished to receive 10 T-90M tanks of a new construction. Two more contracts of this kind were concluded in 2018 and 2019. In the near future, the Ministry of Defense may place new orders.
According to official and unofficial data, the contracts provide for the supply of 160 MBT T-90M. A quarter of this amount will be rebuilt, and the remaining tanks will be redone from the serial T-90. So far, only one third of the cash T-90 (A) is planned to be modernized. What will happen to the rest of the armored vehicles is unknown. Perhaps new orders will appear in the future, and the entire fleet of equipment will undergo modernization.
T-80BVM are already mass-produced and in significant quantities. The 2017 order provided for the supply of 62 machines in 2018-19. According to various sources, to date, the army has received more than half of this equipment. The remaining MBT will be transferred to the army in the coming months. Then a new similar order may appear for several dozen tanks.
In parallel with the modernization of existing MBTs, development work is underway on completely new models of armored vehicles. As part of the Armata program, several armored vehicles are being created, including main tank T-14. This machine has already been tested and is even being built in a small series. In the near future, its adoption is expected with all the relevant consequences.
An experimental batch of T-14 tanks appeared no later than the spring of 2015. It was these vehicles that were first shown on Red Square. The first unofficial reports of the mass construction of MBT T-14 relate to 2016, when it became known about the order for 100 units. In 2018, the army ordered 132 armored vehicles of the Armata project — this included tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and armored vehicles. Some of these orders have already been completed; equipment is transferred to the army and is being tested.
In the past, industry called the expected quantities of new equipment and the timing of its release. In 2016, the need for the construction of the 2300 MBT T-14 was first voiced. They should have been built by 2020 or 2025, depending on various factors. However, later it was announced that there was no need for fast and mass construction of the T-14. It turned out that the existing tanks after modernization meet the challenges of the present time, and you can continue to fine-tune the T-14 without haste.
Tanks of the future
Available data on the events of recent years allow us to imagine how Russian tank troops will look in the near and medium term. During this period, the T-72, T-80 and T-90 will remain in service in their latest versions, and in addition, the appearance of the fundamentally new MBT T-14 is expected.
The gradual modernization of available equipment over time will allow the army to completely switch to modern models, such as the T-72Б3 (including the model 2016), T-80БВМ and T-90М. Tanks of older models will be stored without obvious prospects for returning to service. The troops will also be saturated with new “Armats”.
Obviously, as the T-72, T-80, and T-90 resources are developed, new modifications will have to be written off. By this time, the production of T-14 will gain the necessary pace and will be able to replace obsolete equipment - perhaps even in equal or close quantities. However, this will happen only in the distant future. T-90М, T-80БВМ and T-72Б3 can still serve in the Russian army.
Thus, in recent years, we can observe how our army and the defense industry are updating the fleet of armored vehicles, as well as laying the foundation for further modernization in accordance with the requirements of future times. The development process of domestic main tanks continues and makes the most serious contribution to the overall defense.
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