Russia is the first to be switching to a uniform combat platform in three major types of ground vehicles, which will presumably make them easier and cheaper to build and maintain, while their modular design will allow to develop different systems, depending on their purpose. The first platforms of this kind of modular design will be produced in two to three years.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has approved the design of a new heavy crawler platform for the Russian armed forces, says Major General Alexander Shevchenko, Chief of General Tank Automotive Directorate. The development of “perspective technologies” for the Russian military is now going through a major transformation. And what comes out of this can forever change the country’s army.
“Standardization can simplify both the maintenance and combat application of the military hardware, increase modularity in its design, including possible usage of versatiletarget modules on chassis to meet different objectives. All platforms have the so-called “open architecture” avionics to make it easier to add new systems,” says Viktor Murakhovsky, an expert on armoured vehicles. “Different hardware complexes can be built on the basis of a single sighting-system node by adjusting the number of various observation channels to create a system for a combat, reconnaissance or a command vehicle.”
A new versatile armoured platform, “Armata,” is expected to “set to rights” the Russian armoured forces, plagued by chassis and components of every stripe. The most popular tank, the T-72, and its upgrade, the T-90, will be revamped to stay in the Russian army, except for its first-line units , which are to be equipped with the cutting-edge “Armata” by 2015 to 2025. But the T-90 won’t disappear for good as its recent modification, known as the T-90S, is in fact set to keep its export market. It was announced that the T-90S will make its reappearance at the upcoming Defexpo-2012 show in India.
The Russian armed forces will have as many as four versatile base platforms: the “Armata” crawler platform for heavy tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other types of motorized infantry brigades weighing up to 65 tons. Among other projects are the “Kurganets-25” medium crawler platform in the 25-ton range and two wheeled platforms – a medium 25-ton and a light 10-ton platform of the “Bumerang” family.
The idea to build modular-design platforms was up in the air for quite a while. The collapse of the Soviet Union crippled the production of already existing hardware and stalled its further development. The West was the next in line to dip its toes in this water, with the American line of the “Stryker” wheeled combat vehicles and a whole family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) clearly coming off the charts.
Still, no Western army ever considered bringing all vehicles of all weight classes onto a single, unified platform. The US tried to grapple with this task in its modernization program called Future Combat Systems (FCS), which was cancelled after over-ambitious plans of the US military command to outfit its vesicles with cutting-edge equipment threatened to drain its funds.
Russia had it easier, having had to learn from the FCS example, which proved that any sweeping modernization can only bust the budget. In this sense, Russian armoured vehicles, which are capable of employing both the existing equipment and systems that are still under development, have much more chances to come off the blueprints and into reality.