It wasn’t long after those words hypnotized a generation coming of age that the Cold War met its official end and the Soviet Union disintegrated. But, Russia lives on.
Vladimir Putin made the whole world nervous last year when he put the future of Ukraine and Crimea on standby (2). The whole thing makes you wonder what Russia’s president will come up with next. It very well could be a new kind of cold war infused with a diversity of unmanned weapons from tanks to ATVs (all-terrain vehicles). (3)
Okay, so robotics has been something the science-fiction world has played with for decades. Even robotic weapons are nothing new, and the U.S. is developing its own arsenal of unmanned vehicles and robotic military equipment, but what if the Russians actually beat the world’s lone superpower in building the first robotic tank?
Apparently, that’s Putin’s plan (4). And, the plan has succeeded.
Today, Russia’s main battle tank is the T-90, which rolled out in 1992 (5). Fitted with a 125mm main gun, a .50-caliber machine gun, and a 7.62mm co-axial machine gun, it serves as an economically feasible upgrade to the T-72 battle tank introduced in the 1970s. But it’s no match for the U.S.’s M1A2 Abrams tank.
The Armata T-14 robotic tank is another story, however.
Meet Russia’s First Fully Robotic Battle Tank
First, the Armata is a platform. Russia has learned, thanks to its T-90, to build systems that are economical yet powerful. They aren’t necessarily trying to achieve best in class. What they are going for is effective, both in firepower and business expense. With that in mind, they can build multiple weapons systems using a single platform.
–> A main battle tank
–> Heavy infantry fighting vehicle
–> Combat engineering vehicle
–> Armored recovery vehicle
–> Heavy armored personnel carrier
–> Tank support combat vehicle
–> Self-propelled artillery vehicles
–> Air defense robotic weapon
–> NBC defense system
The plan is to build each of these systems on the Armata chassis, and the first generation is due to roll out in 2015.
Like the T-90, the Armata will be fitted with a 125mm main gun and be able to fire laser-guided missiles. It will also be equipped with a 30mm cannon and a 12.7mm machine gun.
The modification of the Armata is Wolf-2, Russia’s first robotic tank, armed with a 12.7mm machine gun and about the size of an automobile. The remote operator can select up to 10 targets and upon command the robot will commence firing on those targets (6).
What does America have? A Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System (MAARS) that is only three feet tall (7). It launches grenades. And disarms IEDs. While spying on the enemy.
What Russia’s Military Will Look Like In 2020
Testing has already begun on Russia’s robotic tanks (8).
The Russian Army is expected to renew its military arsenal at 70% by 2020 (9), which means the T-90 will likely be replaced by the Armata T-14 as the main battle tank.
Not only that, but the Russian Army will also employ Boomerang armored personnel carriers and Kourganets-25 infantry fighting vehicles.
The first public display of Russia’s unmanned tank is scheduled for the 2015 Victory Day Parade in Moscow on May 9 (10). This year marks the 70th anniversary of Allied victory in World War II.
References & Image Credits:
(1) “Russians” by Sting
(2) Putin’s Zugzwang: The Russia-Ukraine Standoff
(4) Next Big Future
(6) Popular Mechanics
(8) The Moscow Times
(9) Army Recognition
(10) Russian News Agency