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Russia develops new low profile main battle tank

Russian Defence Minister Marshal Igor Sergeyev has announced that a radically new main battle tank (MBT) designated the T-95 has been developed in Russia. Sergeyev made his statement after a visit to the Uralvagonzavod plant in the Ural region where he inspected a T-95 prototype. Sergeyev's reference to it as the T-95 suggests the possible fielding of the new MBT as T-series designations are given to operational vehicles. Pilot and developmental vehicles are usually designated by the word obiekt (object) and a number.

The minister said that Uralvagonzavod would get additional funding in 2000, but according to Russian sources this may not be adequate to make the transition from development to production. All of the technical data, outline and configuration features of the T-95 are still secret. However, a Uralvagonzavod representative said the tank is a new design rather than a new variant of an existing MBT. It weighs about 50 tons. Its length and width are believed to be similar to the existing T-72, T-80 and T-90 MBTs.

As predicted by Jane's Defence Weekly, the main feature of the T-95 is its radical configuration with the main armament in a small unmanned turret fed from a newly-designed automatic loader located below the turret (JDW 11 November 1995). Seats for the driver, gunner and commander are in a special armoured capsule, separated by an armoured bulkhead from the automatic loader and turret. This design allows the MBT's silhouette to be reduced, making it less observable on the battlefield and enhancing crew safety. Such a configuration resolves a major dilemma concerning modern MBT design - combining adequate protection with mobility and transportability.

The T-95 MBT is armed with a 135mm gun which is believed to be of the smoothbore type and is fitted with a new fire control system (FCS). Target information is provided via optical, thermal imaging and infra-red channels. The FCS also includes a laser range finder and possibly a radar. The design relies heavily on the FCS as the crew cannot use traditional optical devices to observe the battlefield and aim the gun. The T-95 MBT is not the sole domestic new-generation MBT. The "object 640" (named Black Eagle), developed at the Omsk-based Design Bureau of Transport Machine-building was displayed at an arms exposition in Omsk, Siberia, in 1999. The vehicle features a completely new chassis and turret. Its designers chose a simpler design with the automatic loader and some ammunition is placed in a spacious bustle in the rear part of the manned turret.


Posted: 29 March 2000
Jane's Defence Weekly

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