Russia is developing tank shells inspired by lessons in Ukraine

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Based on real-world combat experience and an in-depth study of captured enemy tanks, Russian developers are in the process of crafting improved tank ammunition. They are tailoring these new rounds to align with the features and protective parameters of the latest enemy armor models. 

Photo by Vitaly Kuzmin

This information comes from the Industrial Director of the state corporation Rostech, Behan Ozdoev. In an exclusive interview with the TASS agency on April 8, 2024, he expanded on this forward-thinking approach, “We’re pioneering a new wave of advanced ammunition. This significantly enhances our capabilities and is a response to real-world operations, the meticulous understanding of captured armor, as well as intelligence on future enemy tank specs from our brave tank operators,” stated Ozdoev.

It has been observed that Russian tank personnel have employed guided ammunition such as Invar-M and other similar types during specific military operations. These projectiles enable hitting remote targets with astounding precision. 

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Without revealing much, Ozdoev indicates that the newly developed ammunition shares many properties with the Invar-M. Originating in Russia, the Invar-M is an advanced system for anti-tank missiles. It’s a type of tank ammunition engineered to breach armored vehicles and fortifications. This missile system is frequently used in conjunction with the T-90 and T-72 tanks, dramatically amplifying their firepower.

The Invar-M missile has a length of approximately 17.7 inches [450 mm], a diameter of 5.9 inches [150 mm], and weighs roughly 49.6 pounds [22.5 kg]. It features a semi-automatic laser beam riding guidance system, which permits the missile to be directed to its target post-launch. This system is less prone to countermeasures and interference than other guidance systems. 

The warhead of the Invar-M missile is a tandem-shaped charge. This design enables it to penetrate reactive armor—a type of armor that reduces the effectiveness of anti-tank weapons. The first charge triggers the reactive armor, while the second charge punctures the now vulnerable armor.

Photo credit: Borba Info

The Invar-M missile operates by launching from a tank’s main gun. Once launched, the missile tracks the laser beam, which is maintained on the target by the gunner. This method allows for high precision, even over long distances. The missile can attain speeds of up to 350 meters per second and boasts a maximum range of 5 kilometers. 

One of the main advantages of the Invar-M over other Russian tank ammunition is its ability to engage targets at long ranges. In contrast to most tank rounds that have a maximum effective range of approximately 2 kilometers, the Invar-M can hit targets up to 5 kilometers away. Additionally, its tandem-shaped charge warhead allows it to effectively engage modern tanks with reactive armor, a task that traditional tank rounds struggle with.

In addition to the Invar-M, Russia is also developing the Vacuum-1, an advanced tank shell designed for the T-14 Armata, Russia’s latest main battle tank. The Vacuum-1 is a hypersonic kinetic energy penetrator that is capable of defeating modern composite Armor, reactive armor, and active protection systems. It is known for its high speed, precision, and destructive power. 

Photo credit: Topwar

Another advanced tank shell in development is the 3BM69, which is designed for the 2A82-1M smoothbore gun, serving as the primary armament of the T-14 Armata. The 3BM69 is an APFSDS [Armor-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot] round featuring a long-rod penetrator made of a tungsten alloy. Its design allows it to penetrate enemy armor at long ranges.

Russia is also working on the 3UBK21 Sprinter, a guided missile designed for the 2A45 Sprut-B and Sprut-SD self-propelled anti-tank guns. The Sprinter is a laser-guided missile with a tandem-charge HEAT [High-Explosive Anti-Tank] warhead, designed to defeat modern and future main battle tanks, even those equipped with ERA [Explosive Reactive Armor] and APS [Active Protection Systems]. 

Lastly, there is the 3OF26, a high-explosive fragmentation shell designed for the 2A82-1M gun. The 3OF26 is designed to engage enemy personnel, unarmored and lightly armored targets. It features a programmable fuse, allowing the shell to explode in the air, on impact, or after penetration, thereby increasing its effectiveness against a wide range of targets.

Photo by Maksim Blinov / Sputnik

During the Ukraine conflict, a particularly intriguing development has been the seizure of a wide array of armored vehicles by the Russian forces. These were initially provided to Ukraine by the US and its allies. Of specific interest for armor studies might be the Bradley ODS-SA infantry combat vehicles, equipped with BRAT dynamic defense systems, and the Swedish-made CV-90. Looking ahead, we might even hear of captures such as the renowned American Abrams tank, the Swedish Strv 122, or the German Leopard 2A6.

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