Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Russian T-90 tank prepares for take off

Typically Russian “low silhouette” tanks made in Siberia are the only in the world called flying tanks. Negotiating the “spring board” at full speed these tanks can jump off this type of obstacle staying in the air as long and as high as no other tank in the world can do. Today it seems that T-90 made in Nizhni Tagil is also preparing for “commercial take off”. T-90 is the improved version of the famous T-72, the tank which was produced in the biggest number among the last generation tanks (10 000 units).

Recently the head of the armor dept of the MoD general-colonel Vladislav Polonsky publicly declared that by 2010 two divisions of the Moscow military district, Kantemirovskaya and Tamanskaya, will be completely armed with the newest tanks T-90A. "For the third successive year we receive one tank battalion made by Uralwagonzavod, from 2008 we shall double annual procurements which will allow for forming by 2010 two divisions armed with the new tanks", Polonsky said. Now Russian Army has about 200 Т-90s.

This is quite tangible, but in comparison with the appetites of the foreign customers this is peanuts. Today it is said nearly officially that the contract on delivering to India about 350 Т-90S (export version) will be signed in fall 2007. At the moment the previous contract on the delivery of over 300 tanks T-90S to India is carried out. The sum of the second Indian contract makes about $950 billion. The main reason why the new contract will be signed is the inability of the Indian industry to organize license manufacture of the tanks. The new contract will take three – four years.

For the second year Uralwagonzavod is delivering Т-90S to Algeria. About 90 tanks have been already delivered. Totally this country bought about 200 Т-90S. According to V.Polonsky there have been inquiries for delivering T-90S from the government of Yemen. Libya and Saudi Arabia repeatedly demonstrate big interest to T-90S. Representatives of Uralwagonzvod publicly speak about that. Usually manufacturers of arms do not mention "interests" of buyers unless they are sure of the perspective deals. Even independent experts agree that Saudi Arabia in the long term may buy a batch of T-90S tanks from Russia. The expert of the Institute of the Middle East based in Moscow Valentine Yurchenko did not exclude it as well; however, he thinks it will be hardly big volumes. If Saudi Arabia wants to make certain positive gesture towards Russia maybe they will buy a hundred, he said . Nevertheless, in this case the precedent is more important than the volume. As is known Saudi Arabia is the realm of the American arms makers.

Some western observers doubt that Russia can cope with such volumes of tank manufacture. At the military exhibition MILEX-2007 held recently in Minsk correspondent of PravdaRu asked Deputy General Director on Marketing of Uralwagonzavod Sergey Kolosk this and other questions. The representative of the manufacturer unreservedly stated that today production capacities of Uralwagonzavod are really far bigger than the demand of the customers.

Commenting in the same context the role in the future tank holding of Omsk KBTM and Omskransmash Sergey Kolosok said that Omsk KB, being financially independent structure, will remain independent at least at the first stage. “It deals with own goods which will find their niche in the market too, - he added, - but in the future, both from the point of view of time and model range it is difficult to determine, to what degree Omsktransmash, as manufacturer, will be demanded in the holding. For the foreseeable future there is enough “upgrade job” for Omsktransmash with T-80s”.

Now the Uralwagonzavod is preparing for becoming a joint stock company. Recently a meeting of the representatives of economic, legal and accounting depts. of the defense plants-members to the future holding took place. Uralwagonzavod is to become the core organization of the holding. Sergey Kolosok assured that the process of the formation of tank holding is at its "final stage".

Finally, we should point out that there is interest to the new Russian tanks among partner nations. According S. Kolosok this interest is increasing. Belarus, for example, is considered not only as the potential buyer. “Here in Belarus we have a partner which is delivering components to our tanks, and this is one of our most important subcontractors. One of the tanks’ most vital elements, aiming systems, are made through the cooperation of French, Belarusian and Russian companies. And although Russia can make anything itself, at present from the point of view of quality and price the commodity made through international cooperation, under the above mentioned scheme, is more attractive”, stressed S.Kolosok.

The new computer system which will integrated into the new version of the T-90S tanks allows for precise fire in complicated conditions, at day time and in the night. Indian manufacturers of Т-90 are going to conclude the direct deal with the Belarusian manufacturer "Beltech" in order to have direct supplies of the equipment for the Indian tanks. The cost of the deal can reach 110 million Euro.

Yuri Seleznyov