The RUSSIAN EXPO ARMS-2004 international exhibition of weapons, combat hardware and ammunition has ended in Nizhny Tagil the other day, offering many surprises, just like its organizers had promised. Most importantly, this exhibition, which had always been referred to as an international display over the last five years, has acquired this status only now.
The first defense-industry exhibition was organized in Nizhny Tagil (the Urals region) in 1999, involving no one else but CIS enterprises, which supply accessories for Russian combat hardware. Multi-role processing centers, which now operate at regional defense factories, were featured at the 2004 arms expo in Nizhny Tagil by such leading companies as FEHLMANN and SCHEEBERGER of Switzerland, France's HURON, WEILER and WENZEL of Germany, Sweden's SEKO TOOLS, Japan's MITSUBISHI and many others.
Contrary to Cold War stereotypes, Western countries are helping Russia produce additional weaponry; this became a real sensation at RUSSIAN EXPO ARMS-2004. However, few people noticed that sensation. Quite possibly, Cold War stereotypes are now becoming history; frankly speaking, cooperation between Russia's military-industrial sector and Western defense industries no longer surprises anyone.
Israel caused quite a stir in Nizhny Tagil, displaying its small firearms in that legendary city and riveting the public eye. (The world-famous Kalashnikov assault rifle was developed in Nizhny Tagil - Ed.) It seems that the Israeli display attracted more visitors, including gunsmiths, than any other exhibits.
Designers working with the famous Uralvagonavod factory in Nizhny Tagil offered their unique concept for upgrading those sturdy T-72 main battle tanks. 20,000 of these tanks were produced since the early 1970s; the T-72 is the most popular main battle tank in the world. India alone had received nearly 2,000 T-72s, with the Russian army still wielding approximately the same number of such hard-hitting tanks. The revamped T-72M1 tank demonstrated at the RUSSIAN EXPO ARMS-2004 features a new fire-control system, which is stabilized along two planes, as well as a new gun, which can be replaced, without taking the turret off, a new 1,200-h.p engine and other state-of-the-art weapons and auxiliary systems. All this enhances its combat efficiency by almost 100 percent. The T-72M1's potential matches that of the new T-90 main battle tank. In the meantime tank-modernization costs make up for just 25 percent of the new tank's price.
The Russians have also overhauled their 152 Acacia self-propelled gun, as well as the 152-mm Msta-S self-propelled gun, considerably enhancing their combat efficiency all the same. Both weapons were shown off in Nizhny Tagil by the Yekaterinburg-based Uraltransmash production association. Talking to RIA Novosti's military analyst, Uraltransmash general designer Yury Butrin noted that both howitzers featured new-generation fire-control equipment, which consisted of computers and automatic "blind-sighting" systems, as well as a unique positioning system, which was linked with satellite-navigation networks, i.e. Russia's GLONASS and GPS of the United States. These howitzers can hit their targets in the real-time mode, receiving all essential data from Pchela (Bee) and other remote-piloted aircraft.
Unlike their foreign hand-loaded equivalents, the Msta and the Acacia boast automatic loaders, as well as air conditioners for enhanced crew comfort. (By the way, TV footage of the Iraqi war showed such hand-loaded howitzers - Ed.)
The Uralvagonzavod enterprise displayed its combat tank-support vehicle at RUSSIAN EXPO ARMS-2004, with everyone flocking to admire it. Many foreign military attaches, who are accredited in Moscow, were really delighted to mention it, while chatting with RIA Novosti's military analyst. They flew over to Nizhny Tagil in order to learn more about new Russian weapons; meanwhile all of the combat tank-support vehicle's components attracted their attention.
Experts know perfectly well that any well-advertised tank remains highly vulnerable. It can be disabled by mines and rocket-launcher operators hiding in the bushes. The thing is that the tank affords only limited visibility to its commander, gun layer and mechanic-driver. In a bid to cope with such threats, Uralvagonzvod experts have come up with special equipment boasting numerous optical, thermal-imaging and other data-exchange channels, as well as panoramic sights, for all-round visibility. They can watch the battlefield round the clock, penetrating smoke-screens, too.
In other words, the enemy is unable to spot this combat tank-support vehicle, whose crew has enemy positions in its sights; moreover, this vehicle can fire through smoke-screens. The vehicle's rapid-fire 30-mm gun's two barrels can be fired in tandem or separately. Add to this four Ataka (Attack) supersonic anti-tank laser-guided missiles, a large-caliber anti-aircraft machine-gun under the turret and some other weapons systems. The combat tank-support vehicle will enhance the combat potential of Russia's T-72M1, T-90S and T-80U main battle tanks several times over; the same can be said about the US Army's M1A1 Abrams main battle tank or the Israeli Merkava tank.