Russia’s Victory Day Parade provides the Russians with an opportunity to show off their military equipment. Here is a selection of some of the weapons systems the Russians may show
(1) T34 tank
This was the Red Army’s principal tank during World War 2. Designed before the war by the brilliant engineer Mikhail Koshkin, it revolutionised tank warfare with its sloping armour, wide tracks, powerful diesel engine, and powerful gun. The Germans were astonished when they first came up against it after they invaded the USSR and tried (unsuccessfully) to copy it. It continued in service after World War 2, besting US tanks during the Korean War, with production continuing in Czechoslovakia until 1958. It still turns up from time to time, used in action in the world’s battlefields, with at least two T34s seen being used by the Houthis in 2015 in the fighting against the Saudis in Yemen.
The T34s on display in the Victory Day parade in Moscow are believed to have participated in the very first Victory Day parade held in Moscow on 24th June 1945.
(2) T90 tank
This is currently the most advanced main battle tank in the Russian army. It has a crew of three, advanced armour, a computerised firing system, and a powerful 125 mm smoothbore gun which can also launch anti tank missiles. Examples of this tank have been used in action in Syria, where they have proved highly resistant to US made TOW anti tank missiles used by the Jihadis.
(3) T-14 Armata
This is Russia’s new revolutionary tank, which is due shortly to begin entering service with the Russian army. Many of this tank’s features remain classified but it is known that its turret is unmanned and completely automated, that it uses highly advanced armour, a computerised fire control system which incorporates advanced radar systems, has an active protection system against anti tank missiles, and that its three man crew work side by side in a heavily armoured capsule at the front of the tank. Its main gun is a new advanced 125 mm smoothbore gun which like the gun of the preceding T90 is able to launch anti tank missiles. It is believed the tank also has a variety of other weapons systems details of which are not yet known.
This is widely acknowledged to be the world’s most advanced tank, and is causing US and NATO defence planners nightmares.
(4) T-15 Armata
This is the world’s most advanced and most heavily armoured infantry fighting vehicle, developed alongside the new revolutionary T-14 Armata tank whose basic chassis and engine it shares. Its purpose is to take infantry alongside the tanks into battle. Currently it comes in two versions, an infantry fighting vehicle (pictured) equipped with a 30 mm automatic cannon and powerful Kornet anti tank missiles and a simpler armoured personnel carrier equipped with a 12.7 mm machine gun. It is known that the Russians are however designing a multiplicity of other vehicles using this chassis, including various engineer vehicles, but also a second infantry fighting vehicle which will be equipped with a powerful high velocity 57 mm gun. As with the T-14 Armata tank many of the details of this vehicle are classified.
This is a 25 tonne tracked armoured infantry fighting vehicle, lighter than the T-15 Armata, but sharing many of the same systems and technologies, and intended for use in more lightly equipped mechanised infantry formations. Unlike the T-15 Armata the Kurganets-25 is amphibious, and can swim across rivers and lakes with minimal preparation. Like the T-15 Armata it presently comes in two forms, an infantry fighting vehicle (pictured) equipped with a 30 mm automatic cannon and Kornet anti tank missiles, and a more austerely equipped armoured personnel carrier with a 12.7 mm machine gun. However as with the T-15 Armata the Russians are known to be planning a version equipped with a 57 mm high velocity gun, and there are known to be other versions of this vehicle, including engineer vehicles, planned as well.
This is the wheeled equivalent of the Kurganets-25, of roughly similar weight, with the same engine and sharing many of the same systems. Like the Kurganets-25 it is fully amphibious and is expected to come in the same multiplicity of versions. The version pictured is the infantry fighting vehicle version with the 30 mm automatic cannon and the Kornet anti tank missiles.
Like the T-14 Armata tank, the T-15 Armata infantry vehicle, the Kurganets-25 and the Bumerang-25 are currently undergoing trials. They are expected to start entering service next year.
This is the current infantry fighting vehicle of Russia’s elite Airborne Troops (paratroopers), the light infantry spearhead of the Russian army. It is the most powerful infantry fighting vehicle operated by any paratroop force in the world. It is fully air droppable (by parachute) including with a crew inside. It is fully amphibious, and comes equipped with a 100 mm low velocity gun which can launch anti tank missiles as well as a 30 mm automatic cannon.
(8) BTR-MDM Rakushka
This is the more austerely equipped armoured personnel carrier of the Russian Airborne Forces. Like the BMD-4M (with which it shares many components) it is fully air droppable and amphibious.
This is the most advanced infantry fighting vehicle in current service with the Russian army. Like the BMD-4M it has a 100 mm low velocity gun capable of launching anti tank missiles and a 30 mm cannon. It is fully amphibious. Whilst it will eventually be replaced by the T-15 Armata and the Kurganets-25 it is likely to remain in service with the Russian army for some time.
This is the current wheeled infantry vehicle of the Russian army, which the Bumerang-25 will replace. It is the latest iteration of a long line of vehicles going all the way back to the original BTR-60 of the 1960s, though the current BTR-82 version has much better armour, a powerful 30 mm automatic cannon, a much better engine, and better vehicle access. It comes in a bewildering range of different versions, including command and communications vehicles, some of which will appear in the parade.
This is a new powerful highly automated and very long ranged 152 mm self-propelled gun which is due to enter service shortly with the Russian army. The pictured version is not the final version of this system, which will use the same chassis and engine as the Armata tank. The pictured version appears to use the earlier chassis and engine of either the T72 tank or the T90 tank. The turret and gun are however those of the new system.
This is the Russian army’s current 152 mm self propelled gun, which entered service in the 1980s, and which the Koalitsiya-SV is due to replace.
Russia is the world leader in surface to air anti aircraft and anti missile systems. This one is the tracked vehicle of the relatively short ranged Tor-M, which is carried by special wheeled vehicles.
This is the tracked vehicle version of the well known BUK-M medium to long range anti aircraft missile system. There is a large family of BUK missile systems extending all the way back to the 1970s. The latest versions in service with the Russian military are far more advanced than those operated by other countries. This system like the Tor comes in both tracked and wheeled versions.
Possibly the most advanced and powerful anti aircraft missile system in service anywhere in the world today. Deployed by the Russian military to Syria.
A short range anti aircraft and anti missile system to provide point defence for high value targets including against cruise missiles. It combines missiles with 30 mm automatic cannons, a combination the Russians pioneered and which has so far been copied by no one else. Several of these systems have been deployed by the Russians to defend Khmeimim air base in Syria.
Russia’s highly advanced short range land attack ballistic missile. The picture shows its wheeled vehicle. This missile can carry both nuclear and conventional warheads, has a reported range of up to 500 km, attacks targets at hypersonic speeds making it effectively invulnerable to interception, and hits its targets with pinpoint accuracy (a British officer has claimed its margin of error is just 2 metres).
The Russians have deployed this system to Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, causing major concern to NATO.
(18) Yars ICBM
Likely to be the most powerful weapons system shown in the parade, Russia’s current mobile solid fuelled intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting any target in the continental US and able to launch four manoeuvring nuclear warheads simultaneously. There is a possibility the Russians may in place of Yars show their new Rubezh road mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, which is even more advanced, and which is believed to have just entered service.
Sometimes called Russia’s Humvee, though it is a much more heavily armoured vehicle, it is becoming ubiquitous within the Russian army fulfilling many roles. The pictured version is shown with a remote controlled turret carrying a 12.7 mm machine gun. There are other versions equipped with anti tank and anti aircraft missiles.
Russia currently produces several trucks specially adapted to resist mines (“Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected” MRAP vehicles). This version is produced by the Ural plant in Chelyabinsk Oblast in the Urals. It is likely several other MRAP vehicles produced by other factories will also take part in the parade.
This is only a selection of the weapons systems and vehicles which are likely to be displayed in the Parade. Quite possibly other newer ones about which is little is known will be on display as well, possibly replacing some of the systems and vehicles shown here.
Look out in particular for (1) the Rubezh intercontinental ballistic missile system (replacing the Yars – see above) (2) more advanced and possibly wheeled versions of the BUK and Tor anti aircraft systems (3) possibly a new tracked version of the Pantsir-S1M (4) a new version of the tracked Strela-10M anti aircraft missile system (5) the new Vityaz anti aircraft missile system and (6) new versions of the Armata, Kurganets and Bumerang vehicle families.
Another system which might be displayed is the Bastion system, the land based version of the supersonic Onyx anti-ship missile system, which has been deployed to Crimea and Syria.
Needless to say military observers from NATO, and from various other countries (including some friendly to Russia), and military buffs from all over the world, will be pouring over the film of the Parade studying each and every system as it is revealed and discussing excitedly anything new about them.
If you are minded to join them, we trust this brief description of the systems which are likely to be on display will help you.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.