Putin unveils first new Russian tank since the end of the Cold War with most powerful gun ever as well as huge arsenal of most sophisticated military hardware
- T-14 Armata has made first public appearance for rehearsals ahead of parade to mark victory over Nazi Germany
- Armed with remote-controlled turret, automatic loading system and an internal armoured capsule to protect crew
- Tank is the product of Russia’s ten-year armament program in which £254billion is being spent on new weaponry
- Putin accused of destabilising region by annexing Crimea, stoking war in Ukraine and breaching foreign airspace
The tank was taking part in final rehearsals for the Victory Day parade on Saturday, where it be the highlight of celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany. Some 200 pieces of military hardware and 16,500 troops will take part in all.
Armed with a remote-controlled turret and an automatic loading system, the tank is the product of Russia’s ten-year armament program in which £254billion is being spent on new weaponry.
Show of force: A new Russian Armata T-14 tank speeds through Moscow for final rehearsals for the Victory Day parade, where it be the highlight of celebrations on Saturday marking the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany
The tank is also the first to have an internal armoured capsule to give added protection for its three-man crew.
Russian and some Western military experts say the Armata will surpass all Western versions.
The Russian Defense Ministry last month released photographs of the tank, but its turret was covered with fabric and only the platform was visible.
RYesterday was the first time the tank was shown uncovered.
The Armata designers also envisage the use of the same platform for several other machines, including a heavy armored infantry vehicle, a self-propelled heavy howitzer and combat support vehicle.
This would cut production costs and streamline technical support and maintenance.
The pioneering design potentially puts the Armata ahead of Western competition, but it is yet unclear whether the Russian weapons industries will be able to meet the ambitious production plan for the new tank.
Under a major weapons modernization program, the military is reportedly set to receive 2,300 Armatas by 2020, but those plans may face revision with the Russian economy reeling under the impact of slumping oil prices and Western sanctions.
Oleg Bochkaryov, a deputy head of the Military Industrial Commission, a government panel dealing with weapons procurement, said last week that the Armata will enter service next year.
He said the new tank, the first since the T-90 was put in production in 1993, will not be sold abroad at least for another five years.
Russia’s muscle-flexing has sparked fears of a new Cold War, with Putin facing off against the U.S., NATO and the EU in recent months.
Russia’s forceful annexation last year of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula as Kiev pledged its future to the European Union has plunged relations with Moscow into deep freeze, with no sign of any improvement soon.
Putin has also been accused of sending troops over the border to help Russian separatists seize parts of eastern Ukraine.
This has jolted the 28-nation bloc and the US-led NATO military alliance out of their post-Cold War complacency, showing they needed to come to terms with a much more assertive Russia led by a no-holds barred Putin.
Moscow has also been sending Bear bomber jets into UK airspace and those of other countries to test their defence responses, while Sweden and Finland claim Russian nuclear submarines have been entering their waters.
Western powers have responded by imposing economic sanctions on Moscow which in turn has forced Putin on the offensive to boost the morale of his people with a show of aggression.
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