Russia is returning to the concept of a multi-thousand tank fleet

MOSCOW, RUSSIA — As you know, tanks are still the main striking force of the Ground Forces. The conflicts of recent years show their continued relevance, despite the many conflicting opinions about the futility of this type of technology. And despite the fact that Russia is the absolute leader in the number of these machines, there are quite a few modern ones, even in light of the full-fledged production of the T-90M and others.

New T-90s for Russia: 125mm gun, HE ammo, missiles, space nav
Photo: Uralvagonzavod

The root of the whole problem is the lack of the required number of tank repair plants. To understand this in more detail, it is necessary to understand what these same factories do in general, because not everything is as obvious as it seems at first glance.

Three problems of Russian tank building

In peacetime, they carry out the necessary measures to maintain tanks in combat readiness, and in wartime they deal with the restoration of damaged vehicles. Everything is logical and lies on the surface. But the second point is already much more interesting and important – this is modernization. Why so?

The fact is that modernization, depending on its degree from tank to tank, is far from the easiest process – the same T-72B3M model of 2022 differs from the classic T-72B simply colossally. And this process requires a lot of time, effort and money, so it is logical to transfer it to individual plants.

Well, the third, no less important point, in view of the rapidly changing world, is the work of re-preservation of equipment. Here we will immediately throw modernization to a more or less acceptable level and get an impressive front of work, which one, even a very large enterprise, obviously cannot cope with. So, the crux of the problem is that after the collapse of the USSR, Russia had few of these tank repair plants left.


And this is the picture that turns out – Uralvagonzavod, as one of the truly working enterprises, is engaged in non-specific activities for itself – repair and modernization, which, although they do not end the production of new equipment, but greatly limit it.

The same T-90M can be significantly increased in quantity if the problem with tank repair plants was revealed earlier, and then maybe we will get to the T-14. OK, the problem is clear, but what about the solution?

Two new tank plants

And here there is serious progress – in September last year it became known that two completely new tank repair plants will appear in Russia. The total number of employees is a little over five hundred people, which at first glance is not a lot.

That's why the sanctions don't affect the T-90M tank production
Video screenshot

However, there is one very interesting clarification – these are figures for civilian personnel and the plant will belong to the Ministry of Defense, not Rostec or any other civilian structure. That is, most likely, there will be many more real specialists. This is partly confirmed by the area allocated for factories, where the first will occupy a little more than 250 thousand square meters, and the second about 180 – in total, this is about half of the UVZ, which employs more than 20,000 people.

Both factories will be located in the most suitable places for this business – Moscow and Rostov regions. It is logical to assume that the modernization will be transferred to a greater extent on the shoulders of the first, but the repair of the second. However, this is far from all – during the board of the Ministry of Defense held in December 2022, when they announced the increase in the army, they also announced the construction of a third plant, but, alas, without specifics. In addition, existing armored personnel carriers are awaiting modernization.

The obsolete T-62

In short, right at the time of the announcement of two tank repair plants, it became known that the currently existing and properly functioning 103rd armored personnel carrier began to carry out a rather interesting order – to take out of conservation, attention, 800 T-62 tanks, to repair and modernize. And for a very short time – only 3 years.

As for the improvements, the main ones include the presence of a thermal imaging camera [slightly simpler than the T-72B3M’s Sosna-U, but still a thermal camera], as well as slightly improved protection. In general, there was no unequivocal opinion on this issue – someone is for, someone is against, motivating the opinion for the most part by the “old age” of the car and the desire to get more modern T-72 and T-90.

T-62M tanks repair in Russia takes place in a six-day workweek
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This decision is supported by the fact that the modernized T-62 should be used primarily for defense, and the speed of work on their restoration is much higher. Sometimes you can find comparisons with the BMP-3, and although it is a completely different vehicle, some of their tasks are the same, and where this happens, the modernized T-62 clearly wins, at least in terms of armor.

However, we are interested in something else – if one of the TRZs in Russia is charged with such a large order, then the three currently under construction, together with UVZ and some other enterprises, what figure will they reach? It is probably already many thousands, but why does Russia need so many – a question the Kremlin knows the answer to.

In conclusion, it should be noted that creating such large factories is obviously a long game, as they take time to build. This is not a year, but at least two or three, plus some time for full-time work.

Quite interestingly, some Russian media have been trumpeting for a year now that, according to Russian leaders, 2026 will be the most suitable year for tank building. Is that then expected to be the beginning of the new Russian concept of a multi-thousand tank fleet?


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