Russian Expo arms 2004 opens in Nizhny Tagil

Russian Expo Arms 2004 opens on Tuesday in the Sverdlovsk region city of Nizhny Tagil.

The Nizhny Tagil exhibition of ground equipment will be held this year for the fourth time and take place from July 6 to 10. For the variety of samples of ground equipment and armaments shown, for the number and types of tests and firings, the Nizhny Tagil exhibition moved to leading positions in the world as early as 2002. Nevertheless, this time the show did not manage to avoid reproaches against from experts for the lack of real competition both among domestic and foreign manufacturers.

Exhibition organisers told RIA Novosti that the number of participants this year, compared with 2002, has increased by 50 per cent. In addition to participants of the previous Tagil reviews 70 Russian collectives have joined this year. Applications for attending the exhibition have been submitted by 271 enterprises from 29 constituent members of the Russian Federation, and by six foreign firms, which represent Belarus, Ukraine, Israel, Sweden and Switzerland.

The federal state unitary enterprise (FGUP) Rosoboronexport noted that the Russian Expo Arms 2004 will demonstrate the combat capabilities of more than a score of examples of the newest and upgraded military equipment. They include T-90S, T-80UK, and T-72 tanks, engineering machines developed on their basis, the upgraded BTR-60PV and BTR-70 armoured personnel carriers, the upgraded 152-mm and 155-mm MSTA-S self-propelled howitzer, the 120-mm Nona-SVK self-propelled artillery gun, and the upgraded BRDM-2 armoured patrol car.

Russian experts do not doubt that foreign participants of the exhibition will be interested to see effective examples of individual types of arms and military hardware, such as the tank-support combat vehicle (BMPT), developed along the lines of the T-72; the upgraded BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle; the 155-mm KM-1 Krasnopol guided weapon system; the RBU-6000 anti-submarine projector; and the Shturm-V high-precision guided weapon system with the upgraded Ataka-V missile for Mi-24/Mi-35 and Mi-28NZ helicopters.

Equally representative are small arms - the 30-mm AGS-17 anti-infantry automatic grenade-launching system; the 12.7-mm 6P50 and 7.62-mm Pecheneg machine guns; the upgraded 7.62-mm Kalashnikov machine gun on the Stepanov mount; AK-series Kalashnikov automatic rifles; and the 9-mm Kashtan machine pistol.

Special attention will be given to demonstrating a comprehensive programme of modernisation of the most widespread tank in the world - the T-72. The upgraded vehicle is twice as effective in fire terms as the base model and in many respects approaches the T-90S, while for its aggregate engineering solutions this upgrade is the most rational in cost-effect terms.

A representative of the FGUP told RIA Novosti that "the upgraded version of the T-72 covers all ingredients of its combat potential - fire-power, degree of protection, maneuverability and response to control." The tank is armed with a new 125-mm gun, guided missiles, and an enclosed large-calibre anti-aircraft machine gun mount.

As the Rosoboronexport representative noted, "the fire power is mostly due to the fact that the tank has a modern fire-control system, which includes a multi-channel sight (comprising an optical and a thermal imager channel, a missile control channel, and an inbuilt laser range-finder), an electronic digital ballistic computer with a set of firing condition sensors, and the latest stabilizer of tank armaments of enhanced accuracy."

"The know-how realised in the course of modernisation of the T-72 tank includes new inbuilt explosive reactive armour, an electro-magnetic protection system to prevent being blown up on mines with the magnetometric fuse, aerosol camouflage cloud dispenser, and a new satellite navigation system," the source added.

Rosoboronexport is pro-active in advancing this project to external markets. "At present the enterprise is taking part in a tender to modernise the fire-control system of a fleet of T-72 tanks in service with the Indian army," the FGUP representative recalled.

He said that Rosoboronexport offers the system with a Sosna-U multi-channel sight-tracker, which as distinct from offers made by other foreign participants of the tender features a series of technological innovations, in particular a guided missile firing channel, a stabilisation system for the field of vision in two planes in the sight, and duplication by the commander of firing from the basic armaments.

The Msta-M1 self-propelled artillery-howitzer mount, fitted out with the ASUOP automatic fire-control system, will be put through its paces. A MSTA version for the 155-mm NATO shell will also be displayed.

Of much interest to potential buyers will be the upgraded 2S3M2 Akatsia self-propelled howitzer, which is in service in many countries across the world. Its "electronic" version will be shown in Nizhny Tagil for the first time.

Also for the first time visitors will see the laying of a mine field by the GMZ-3 tracked mine layer, which is unmatched by anything in the world.

The exhibition is also expected to hold for the first time demonstration flights by Russian aerobatic pilots.

According to the organisers, 223 people from 42 countries will arrive at the exhibition through the channels of the Russian Foreign Ministry. The most representative delegation is from China, it numbers 52 members. A total of 146 mass media are accredited to the exhibition, including ten from overseas (Japan, Slovakia, Germany, France, the US, Belgium and others). The total number of journalists is 465.