Russia's first new tank in 25 years will be unveiled May 9th on Moscow's Red Square, part of the annual Victory Day parade.
The details of the new vehicle, called the Armata, are a closely guarded secret. Based on leaked photographs, we know the tank hull is a modified version of the latest T-90. However, radical changes to the internal layout make it inherently different from any currently fielded main battle tank.
Most notable is the placement of the crew. All three personnel sit in a compartment toward the front of the tank. Having a crewless automated turret gives some distinct advantages: reduced weight because heavy turret armor isn't needed to protect the commander and gunner; increased safety because a hit to the turret won't disable the crew, who are located in the well-protected hull; a smaller target profile; and improved up and down range of motion for the main gun.
The Armata's 125 mm main gun fires conventional anti-tank rounds as well as guided missiles, providing the best level of firepower yet seen on a Russian tank. The most significant part of the Armata concept is how the baseline chassis can be adapted for multiple uses. Different hull configurations and mission-specific modules mean the Armata can be tailored for its environment or role.
Russia sees its new fleet of armored vehicles sharing common parts, which will reduce the logistical, training and financial burden over time.But as capable and ambitious as the Armata concept is, Moscow's dream of replacing its entire armored inventory with a universal platform is unrealistic. The huge size of Russia's military and the poor state of the Russian economy mean that the Kremlin will not be able to widely field the Armata.
For now, Russian military planners continue to bet on the Armata, but their faith alone will not bring about a dynamic change to the fundamental shape of the Russian army.