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Should Russia abandoned tanks, as Britain intends to do?

This post was published in Vzglyad. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.

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MOSCOW, (BM) – Russia is considering new options for the “tank of the future”, and Britain at the same time is wondering whether to abandon this type of military equipment altogether. Who is more correct in predicting a promising weapon? Do the former advantages of tanks remain today – and how many tanks does our country need?

Tanks rumbled across the field of the Army 2020 International Military and Technical Forum. The dominance of armored vehicles at this “exhibition of achievements” is obvious, although there are plenty of other types of weapons and military equipment. Russia, as you can see, is not going to give up the “armored fist” and is actively developing domestic tank building, which this year celebrated its 100th anniversary. And this is against the background of the fact that some countries want to give up expensive tanks as such and are going to invest in cyber weapons, space and other advanced technologies.

Great Britain is now going to reduce the fleet of armored vehicles, and later completely abandon tanks. At least the Times newspaper reports that official London is exploring such a possibility, citing the high cost of upgrading its Challenger tanks and Warrior infantry fighting vehicles, which are really pretty outdated and unable to compete with the more advanced tanks of other states.

Here you need to understand that the primary reason is precisely the price of the issue – it is expensive to modernize, create new ones, or, for example, buy abroad, as the option under consideration with the German Leopard 2 tank. other means of warfare. Therefore, the UK has already thrown the bait to NATO with a proposal to abandon heavy armored vehicles and review its military contribution to the alliance.

The second side of the issue, due to which Great Britain is driving a “tank wedge” into the world tank building, is that tanks are really not needed at all in London at the current historical stage. Their use on Foggy Albion itself is extremely ineffective – on the island they have nowhere to disperse. It also makes no sense to land amphibious assault forces with heavy armored vehicles to Europe, across the English Channel – not to the Baltic Sea, to the Kaliningrad region, for example, to drag tanks.

As a digression, it can be noted that the British are quite pragmatic. When Britain “ruled the seas”, its navy was one of the most powerful in the world, the number of ships was measured in hundreds, including dozens of aircraft carriers. The British navy is nowhere near that number. That is, the Navy is no longer viewed as a powerful lever of influence, including in colonial politics, so they are moored to the wall. It’s the same with tanks – Britain doesn’t really need them now, which means there is no point in spending money on them. In general, the British in this regard are not at all “armor-piercing” authority.

In Russia, it is traditionally believed that there are never too many tanks, especially since our country is considered the most armored in the world. Experts from the American publication We Are The Mighty, citing data from the Global Firepower website, recently found 22,000 tanks in the Russian army. For comparison, the European countries of NATO have a little more than 11 thousand armored vehicles, if we add the USA and Canada, the total number will reach 18 thousand. That is, the obvious advantage of Russia in armored vehicles.

But Western figures are lying. Of actual combat vehicles, modernized or completely new, we have a little more than 5 thousand tanks. The rest are in storage or are being prepared for modernization. More in a modern war is not necessary.

A modern tank, of course, despite numerous disputes, cannot be called an obsolete type of weapon – it is destructive force with a powerful cannon and means of protection. The infantry is afraid of tanks, but has countermeasures. The main Russian tanks today are the T-90, T-90A, T-90M, the T-80 line in various modifications and the T-72, which have been upgraded to the B3 level. Plus the T-14 on the Armata platform, which is still somehow hardly included in the armored personnel of the RF Armed Forces.

“Tanks in the Russian army in the coming years will not become an anachronism, moreover, they will only be improved and added with new developments of armored vehicles,” military expert Vladimir Popov said. – The tank itself is versatile – it is a long-term armored point capable of quickly changing its position and acting depending on the situation on the battlefield.

It should be remembered here that none of the armed conflicts of the late XX – early XXI century could do without their use. Tanks successfully operated both in local conflicts and in large-scale military operations, and sometimes even without their direct offensive component. In Afghanistan, Soviet troops used them precisely as fire support at posts in the mountains. The Americans in Iraq broke the defenses of Saddam Hussein’s forces only thanks to the support of tanks.

Look even at the current alignment of forces in the proposed theater of military operations in Europe, in which Russia, on the one hand, and the troops of NATO countries, on the other, may become participants. We have two tank armies deployed in the western direction. The United States has now also deployed an armored brigade from Germany in Poland, and previously deployed a third armored brigade group from the US 4th Infantry Division, which included 87 Abrams tanks. That is, the role of tanks in modern wars will be no less important than any new technology. “

In principle, any tank as such consists of three components: a chassis on a tracked base, an armored turret and a hull plus armament in the form of a cannon and machine guns. Nothing else can be imagined, like in a bicycle. You can only improve all this to new unique opportunities.

The combat characteristics of the modernized German Leopard 2 are generally recognized, of which more than 3.5 thousand units were produced [Leopard 3 was also developed in Germany – without a turret and with two guns, but it never went into mass production].

The Israeli Merkava tank, which is now being developed in its fifth generation, is also highly appreciated. We made significant progress with the creation of our own tanks in China [previously they used purchased or licensed Russian ones]. By the way, at the current forum “Army-2020”, the People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA) has demonstrated one of its best combat vehicles, the ZIZ-96B, in Kubinka near Moscow.

Of course, Russia does not stand still either, which looks to the future and is not going to stop at modifying old tanks to a completely new level and creating new ones, like the same “Armata”. At the current forum “Army-2020” the concept of the “tank of the future” was presented, which was demonstrated by the 38th Research Institute of Armored Weapons and Equipment. Even if it is still in the layout, but with the given characteristics of weapons and protection, which impress with completely new possibilities.

The project should be completed by 2040 – with a very enviable prospect for many decades, suggesting that the tanks will not die out after all. At least in Russia.

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