Since the First World War, tracked combat vehicles from slow, cumbersome, poorly armed freaks turned into a formidable modern weapon. Today Tanks have no less weight than a nuclear club, and are not only a means of aggression, but also military deterrence. This difficult argument is capable of immediately determining the outcome of political, social and economic disagreements in favor of the one who possesses it. According to experts, tanks, despite the development of the latest types of weapons at the beginning of the XXI century, will for a long time be weapons No. 1 of the ground forces of all the leading armies of the world.
RBC found out whose frontier the Russian "flying" T-90С tank protects today and why the Russian Defense Ministry has a weakness for foreign armored vehicles.
Tailed tanks "Renault" - the winners of the First World War
Various designs of armored tracked combat vehicles were proposed by military engineers in Russia and abroad as early as the late 19th century. However, almost all of them remained on paper until the First World War. The creation of tracked vehicles with powerful weapons inspired along with obvious technical prerequisites and military necessity. For active offensive action in the protracted trench warfare 1914-1918gg. on enemy territory, enveloped in kilometers of barbed wire with concrete fortifications and deadly weapons and infantry guns looking out of them, a fundamentally new weapon was required. Such a weapon, allowing you to crack the most serious defense, infuse confusion and fear into the souls of the enemy and put him to flight, and the tanks began. Despite the initial low-speed (total 7-8 km / h) and mainly machine-gun armament, the military quickly appreciated the fighting qualities of this unique machine.
The first tank corps, equipped with the British land armadillos Mark I entered the battle 15 September 1916. on the river Somme. The word tank (tank, reservoir), which is familiar to us, was written on wooden boxes in which the British fighting vehicles secretly delivered the battlefield to the German troops. Subsequently, this name stuck, so began to call all the combat vehicles of this type.
The masterpiece of tank construction during this period was the French light tank of infantry support Renault FT-17, which came off the assembly line of the Louis Renault plant. Such tanks began to enter the French army in March, 1918, and until the end of World War I, the military received 3177 of such vehicles. In the Renault tanks, for the first time, a turret rotated 360 degrees was applied, and the layout, which later became classical: the command and control section was in front, the fighting was in the center of the tank, and the engine compartment was in the back. The tank was armed with either a cannon or a machine gun, which was installed in the tower. French light tanks at that time were unusually fast, they developed a maximum speed of 9,6 km / h. The specific element of the design of the Renault tanks was a removable tail, which allowed them to overcome ditches and trenches, as well as carry loads of cargo or several infantrymen in it.
Tail tank "Renault" was so successful that it was later released under license in the United States, where the Ford Two Man was called, and in Italy under the name Fiat 3000. Thus, for tanks "Renault" World War I became truly victorious. At the same time, tanks appeared in Germany. True, the Germans in this field strongly lagged behind the British and French - in Germany, only three of the 8 tank companies were equipped with German combat vehicles A7V. The Germans promptly eliminated this mistake before the start of the Second World War. At the same time, tanks appeared in the armies of other leading world powers - the USA, Italy, Japan, etc.
Blind from what was ... the French, Americans, British
The first foreign tanks in Russia fought against Soviet power — England and France supplied weapons to White, and domestic-made tracked combat vehicles appeared in Soviet Russia in the 1920s. At that time, there were no own tanks in the USSR - the only tank regiment was equipped exclusively with trophy copies, including the British tanks Mk.V (Big Willie) and Mk.A (Whippet) and the French Renault.
From the latter, the Russian engineers "wrote off" the T-16 tank, or as it was also called the Renault Russian, which was later brought to mind and renamed T-18 (MS-1, small tracking tank). The tracked vehicle weighed around 5,5 T, was protected by 16-mm armor and reached speeds of up to 16 km / h. The tank was armed with a Hotchkiss 37-mm cannon and two 6,5-mm machine guns. The T-18 became the first serial Russian tank and was produced at the Bolshevik plant from 1928. on 1931
Since then, Soviet engineering thought, driven by the needs of the Workers 'and Peasants' Red Army (Red Army) and the tense situation in Europe, has improved the fighting qualities of tanks. At the beginning of the 1930's based on the development of the American designer Walter Christie in the Soviet Union create a lightweight 18-ton tank BT (high-speed tank). The tank on the suspension, armed with a 45-mm cannon and machine gun, proved to be a good idea during the Spanish Civil War. However, his 10-mm reservation could not effectively protect the crew, as the armies of the world's major powers began to be saturated with small-caliber anti-tank artillery. Another Soviet three-turreted tank T-28, created by Soviet designers based on the English A6 Vickers, with powerful weapons (had a 76,2-mm cannon and three 7,62-mm machine guns) and 17-20 mm booking significantly inferior BT in maneuverability and maneuverability.
The Red Army needed a new car that would combine the firepower of the T-28 with the speed and maneuverability of the BT. This tank was the A-32, developed in the design office of the tank building of the Kharkov Locomotive Plant (KhPZ) under the direction of Mikhail Koshkin. The combat vehicle received enhanced booking up to 45 mm and powerful armament: an X-NUMX-caliber F-32 cannon, paired with a 76,2-mm caliber machine gun, a second machine gun from the radio operator and a third anti-aircraft gun on the turret. The maximum speed of the tank on the highway reached 7,62 km / h, and the cruising range of 70 km. According to the results of tests in September 300. at the Kubinka training ground of two A-1939 tanks (wheeled-tracked tank) and A-20 (purely tracked), the military approved the latter, giving it the "name" T-32. In March, 34. The protocol of the State Defense Committee was signed on serial production of T-1940 at Plant No. 34 (KhPZ).
The legendary tank of the Second World War
During the Great Patriotic War (WWII), the test of fire clearly demonstrated the highest combat qualities of the T-34 tank, which became the "great-grandfather" of modern Russian combat vehicles, such as the main battle tank (TBC) T-90. "Thirty-four" became the most famous and most massive tank of the Second World War, combining unique fighting qualities with reliability and simplicity in production. On the "Uralvagonzavod" at the end of 1941g. Eleven enterprises were evacuated from the western part of the country. Until the end of the Second World War, Uralvagonzavod launched the 25 thousand 266 T-34s, that is, every second T-34 tank that took part in the hostilities.
The appearance of the Russian T-34 in October 1941g. in the battles of Mtsenskom shocked the German tankers and military leaders. “South of Mtsensk, the 4-I tank division was attacked by Russian tanks, and it had to endure a difficult moment. For the first time, the superiority of the Russian T-34 tanks was sharply manifested. The division suffered significant losses,” German General Heinz Guderian, 2 commander, wrote about this battle. Tank Army Group "Center". The undeniable superiority of the armored forces of the Wehrmacht was questioned.
Adolf Hitler demanded to create an urgent machine capable of resisting the Russian T-34. Designers Dimler-Benz AG and MAN set to work. Meanwhile, the front-line officers of the German army began to advocate the creation of an analogue of the Soviet tank, in order to eliminate the advantage of the Russians as soon as possible. But, even having captured and dismantled the thirty-four trophy trophy, the Germans could not copy this weapon. In particular, due to the shortage of non-ferrous metals, Germany could not start mass production of a diesel engine installed on the T-34. As a result, the German designers took the path of improving the German T-IV tank. In 1942-1943. Medium tanks T-V “Panther” (weighing 35 t) and heavy T-VI “Tiger” (to 60 t), and later “Royal Tiger” (T-VI “Tiger C”) began to descend from the conveyors of German tank-building plants .
Soviet T-34 tank crews had a hard time resisting the German Panthers and Tigers. The German T-VI was armed with an 88-mm cannon and had a 80-100 mm reservation, which the T-34 could only penetrate with the 500-600 m, while the Tiger easily took out the thirty-four with the 1500 m. However, German machines were more capricious in maintenance and repair and much more expensive. The production of the same "Tigers" cost the Germans 1 million Reichsmarks per car, almost twice as expensive as any WWII tank. At the same time, the T-34 "during the war years" fell in price "almost twice.
“Tigers” and “Panthers” on the battlefields of the Great Patriotic War were also opposed by Soviet heavy tanks KV (created before the outbreak of the war) and the IS. The latter was the most powerful tank of the Second World War. The 46-mm gun was installed on the 2-tonne IC-1943 (produced in 1953-122g.), And the 90-100 mm armor was not inferior to the German "Tiger". As is known, in the largest in the military stories tank battle under Prokhorovka 12 July 1943g. on the southern face of the Kursk Bullet 800, Soviet tanks (including the 500 T-34) defeated the 700 Tigers and Panthers from selected German tank divisions.
The tanks that showed their power during the First and Second World Wars became the basis — the iron fist of the ground forces of the strongest armies in the world. Tank makers did not stop improving the combat qualities of these machines even after the Great Victory 9 in May 1945, creating excellent models of equipment in the second half of the 20th century: Leopard tanks (Germany), Abrams tanks (USA), T-90 (Russia), " Leclerc (France), Merkeva (Israel).
Who protects the "iron fist" of Russia
Russia today is the largest exporter of tanks. The main battle tank T-90С (export version) is in service with India, Algeria, Venezuela, Cyprus, Syria, Uganda, as well as Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. The Indian military highly commended the Russian T-90: this combat vehicle is the main tank of the Armed Forces of India. K 2020g. the Indian army should receive 1,7 thousand T-90С under the concluded contracts with Russia. In addition, in 2006g. A Russian-Indian agreement on the licensed production of this tank was signed, according to which 2019g. More 1 thousand T-90С tanks will be produced in India. The first ten main battle tanks T-90С already Indian production (Indian designation "Bishma") entered service with the 73 regiment of the Indian Land Forces in the summer of 2009. The cost of the entire Russian-Indian program is estimated at 2,5 billion.
In the ranking of the World Arms Trade Analysis Center in terms of the number of new MBTs planned for delivery in 2011-2014. Russia ranks first. During this period, the Russian Federation intends to export 688 main battle tanks worth 1,979 billion. The total volume of Russian MBT exports in the period 2007-2014. 1291 is estimated at $ 3,858 billion. The main competitors of Russia in this field are the USA and Germany. From 2011 to 2014. The US exports 457 tanks "Abrams" in the amount of 4,97 billion dollars, Germany in the same period will export 348 "Leopards" in various versions in the amount of 3,487 billion dollars.
The top five in the 2000's. entered China. At the moment, the Celestial Empire in the ranking of TSAMTO for the period 2007-2014gg. takes place 4 (298 tanks worth about 662,5 million dollars). China’s access to the global MBT market was ensured by the joint MBT-2000 tank project with Pakistan, which was also shipped to Morocco and Myanmar.
For one T-90 three "Leopards" give?
Spring 2010g. It became known about the termination of funding for the project of the Ural Transport Engineering Design Bureau (UKBTM) to create the newest Russian T-95 tank (aka "195 object"). Earlier, the same fate befell the development of the Omsk Transport Engineering Design Bureau - the Black Eagle tank ("640 object", modification of the T-80 У tank). The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation has curtailed support for the projects, considering them unpromising.
According to the doctor of military sciences Konstantin Sivkov, the high cost of the T-95 tank project’s financing was the real reason. “The question was fixed on the price. The T-95, unlike the“ Armata ”, which will be more universal and more simplified, turned out to be too expensive,” said K.Sivkov. On the T-95, it was hoped to significantly strengthen the booking, drastically improve the SLA and install the 152-mm cannon. “The appearance of such a cannon on a Russian tank would mean an automatic superiority in firepower over all other modern foreign tanks. With the advent of such a weapon, they would all automatically become outdated,” he believes.
In 2011 The Ministry of Defense, despite the high marks abroad of the Russian "flying" T-90 tank, announced the termination of purchases of this combat vehicle for the Russian army. Today in the RF Armed Forces of the order of 10 thousand T-72 tanks and their modernization to the level of T-90, according to the Russian military, is several times cheaper than buying new tanks. The refusal to purchase T-90 was accompanied by a fair amount of criticism of domestic armored vehicles. “The weapons that the Russian industry produces, including armored weapons, artillery and small arms, do not correspond to NATO and even China in their parameters,” said Alexander Postnikov, Commander-in-Chief of the Ground Forces (now deputy chief of staff of the Russian Armed Forces) , adding that for 118 million rubles. instead of one T-90 "it is easier to buy three German Leopards." And if in the first case, perhaps the general is somewhere right, then in the second - he obviously got excited, because the new "Leopard" 2 А7 costs at least 6 million dollars ( about 180 million rubles.).
"The 2 A7 leopard does indeed outperform the Russian T-90 in terms of fire control and surveillance tools, as well as more powerful munitions that use depleted uranium," says K.Sivkov. However, according to the expert, the Russian tank has more powerful weapons, since an X-gun caliber 125-mm is installed on the German Leopard against the 90-mm T-120 guns. In addition, the Russian tank is armed with four missiles, allowing you to hit targets at a distance of 5,5 km. “The reliable range of the Leopard’s defeat by standard ammunition - and the others are not available - is only 4 km. The Israeli Merkava tank is about the same, the T-90 has only 3 km,” the expert explains.
That the Indian sun is good, the Russian - "Armata"
After the financing of the T-95 tank project and the abandonment of the T-90 procurement (including the last modification of the T-90A), the Russian tank builders suddenly had a light at the end of the tunnel - the Ministry of Defense announced the creation of a fundamentally new tank based on a universal tracked platform " Armata. " The project was officially approved in March 2012. It is engaged in the development of UKBTM "Uralvagonzavod". The principal difference from the T-90 should be the so-called monitors - an uninhabited tower, in which the ammunition is likely to be placed. At the same time, the crew will be located in the hull in an armored capsule, which theoretically should withstand the hitting of all types of weapons from modern tanks. The tankers will receive information about the situation on the battlefield from thermal imaging, television and laser sensors on the monitor screen. On the basis of the Armata tracked platform it is also planned to create a BMP, a protected vehicle for rescue operations and other armored vehicles.
On the one hand, the need for new weapons is indisputable: the T-90 tank, developed by the Nizhny Tagil design bureau under the leadership of Vladimir Potkin almost 20 years ago (essentially a deep modernization of the T-72) is inevitably obsolete. The Russian military department reasonably notes that it is time to offer a fundamentally new competitive weapon. On the other hand, whether a tank based on the "Armata" is just such a weapon, or just a "lightened" and cheaper version of the T-95, is still unclear. It should not be forgotten that the majority of modern tanks of the leading world powers (including the German Leopards and the American Abrams) are also developed in 1970-1980, and their latest modifications are also the result of deep modernization. However, all these machines, as well as the latest model of the T-90A, are an order of magnitude superior to those of the 30-year-old.
In April, 2012. Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Nikolai Makarov voiced another sad news for the Russian military industrial complex: purchases of armored vehicles are suspended for five years. Against this background, the information recently appeared in the media about the possible purchase of a license for the production in the Russian Federation of Italian wheeled tanks Centauro (Centaurus), which are already being tested at one of the landfills in the Moscow Region, looks completely illogical.
It seems that the MoD generals rely on foreign models of weapons, not only for the Ground Forces, but also for the Air Force and Navy. Does this mean that it is Israeli drones, French Mistrals and Italian Iveco LMV M65 (Lynx) armored vehicles and Centaurus tanks that will make up the strike force of the Russian army of the future? According to the deputy director of the Institute for Political and Military Analysis, Alexander Khramchikhin, the purchase of foreign equipment of the Ministry of Defense is “educational” in nature. “Russia, indeed, is lagging behind the leading powers in tank construction. It is the engine power, the control system, and the observations in our tanks,” A. Khramchikhin explains. “Firstly, we lost very many technologies in the post-Soviet period, and secondly , completely destroyed the competition in this market in Russia. Therefore, now the military are trying to create it in this way. From this point of view, the purchase of Italian Centauro wheeled tanks is quite logical, we don’t have cars of this class. "
What are we going to fight?
There is one more nuance explaining the actions of the Russian military department: supposedly in the wars of the future there is no place for large tank units. The evolution of modern weapons: the massive use of UAVs, robotic combat systems, "smart" missiles - raises the question of the appropriateness of the use of tanks.
The discussion about the place and role of the main battle tanks in modern armies continues, first of all, in the USA. “Earlier, the United States planned to completely abandon the use of armored units by 2030, going first to the Stryker combat brigade groups, and then to the new concept of Fighting Systems of the Future,” says Igor Korotchenko, director of TSAMTO. the fact that the future US army will predominantly have the character of “expeditionary”, a number of US congressmen and the military believe that there will be no need for a large number of heavy armored vehicles. Despite the fact that the tank Abrams is one s most modern types of weapons, the preservation of their minimum production is not economically feasible, American politicians claim.
However, there is an opposite opinion. Thus, the majority of military experts close the lines for the production of MBT Abrams are unprofitable, because the resumption of production (if necessary) will require 4 times more money than its continuation. “Most likely, the last point of view will prevail in this dispute and the modernization of the Abrams will continue. This is at least confirmed by the fact that in the summer of 2011, the US Army again requested 31 million to modernize another Abrams party, - considers I. Korotchenko.
Russian experts are skeptical about statements that in the near future wars will become “contactless”. The head of the Center for Military Forecasting Anatoly Tsyganok emphasizes that today tanks are the main type of land weapons in both NATO countries and China. In turn, K. Sivkov notes that the need for the presence of tanks is clearly demonstrated by military conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. "In Iraq, for example, the main grouping of US forces was precisely tank units. In Libya, the American aviation she’s also been unable to suppress anti-aircraft defense, and the ground operation was inevitable, "he says.
While the Defense Ministry is waiting for the appearance of a new tank, the Russian army continues to modernize the T-72 and fight on these fairly “battered” machines. So, during the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict 2008. it was T-72, and not the modernized T-90A, that defended the interests of Russia on the firing lines. The new tank on the base of "Amata" will enter the Russian army no earlier than 2015. Obviously, it will take time to master a new combat vehicle. At the same time, the Ministry of Defense plans to purchase all 2 thousand such tanks, considering that this is quite enough to protect the vast expanses of our Motherland. As a result, the question of whether the Russian soldiers will wait for the new military conflict with the participation of the Russian Federation remains open.
According to A. Tsyganka, Russia's participation in a major war in the next five years is unlikely, but local military conflicts are quite possible. These are, for example, the so-called water wars in Central Asia and a possible standoff in Nagorno-Karabakh. "It is not clear yet whether there will be new claims on Nagorno-Karabakh from Baku. However, if the situation again develops into a hot phase, then Russia probably will not stand aside," the expert concludes.