From strategic bombers to combat robots: What Russian weapons to look out for in 2021
The Russian armed forces’ modernization drive is in full swing, with multiple new weapons entering service and mass production in the coming year and beyond. Here’s a look at some of the new hardware.
RS-28 Sarmat ICBM
In 2021, Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces will receive the new RS-28 Sarmat – liquid-fueled, MIRV-equipped heavy intercontinental ballistic missiles that will replace the R-36M2 Voevoda systems.
Sarmat can effectively hit targets within 18,000 km, which is enough to reach virtually anywhere on Earth. In addition, the missile has a short boost phase, which makes it hard for a potential adversary’s air-defense systems to intercept it midcourse.
The Sarmat will be carrying a wide range of nuclear warheads, including hypersonic ones, as well as state-of-the-art countermeasures against air-defense systems.
Zircon hypersonic missile
The 3M22 Zircon (part of the 3K22 Zircon system) is an anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile that is meant to replace the P-700 Granit heavy anti-ship missiles.
A major advantage of this missile is a cruising speed that exceeds Mach 8, which makes it significantly faster than any other anti-ship missile, either Russian or foreign.
The Zircon hypersonic missile has been designed to target enemy surface ships ranging from frigates to aircraft carriers, as well as ground targets located within the range of the missile. The Zircon’s speed (9,800-11,025 km/h) makes this missile completely immune to any anti-aircraft systems of a potential enemy. It’s almost impossible to dodge this missile – or even detect its launch quick enough.
TU-160M/M2 strategic bomber
The Tu-160M/M2 is a multi-purpose, variable-sweep, supersonic strategic missile carrier. The refreshed heavy bomber will be equipped with completely revamped avionics and upgraded engines, as well as new types of long-range weapons.
The Tu-160M/M2 is likely to be at the core of Russia’s strategic nuclear-capable aircraft forces for decades to come. The Tu-160M strategic jet bomber is scheduled to make its maiden flight in 2021. Serial production of the aircraft is expected to start in 2023; Russia’s Aerospace Forces are to have at least 10 such bombers in service by 2027.
S-500 Prometey surface-to-air missile system
The S-500 Prometey (also known as 55R6M Triumphator-M) is a new-generation air-defense system designed to incorporate the principle of task-splitting in destroying various ballistic and aerodynamic targets. It’s expected that the system will enter mass production in 2021.
The S-500 is a fifth-generation surface-to-air missile system. This long-rage system is uniquely capable of intercepting intercontinental ballistic missiles at high-altitudes, outside the atmosphere. It has a range of 600 km and is capable of detecting and effectively neutralizing up to 10 ballistic targets at a speed of 7 km/s or less. It’s also fit to shoot down hypersonic cruise missiles.
SU-57 fifth-generation fighter
The fifth-generation fighter Su-57 has been designed to destroy any and all types of air, ground and sea targets. The fighter is capable of maintaining supersonic cruise speed. It has a stealth-tech radar-absorbing coating, internal weapons bays and cutting-edge avionics.
Russia’s Aerospace Forces were expected to get their first mass-produced Su-57 in December this year. In 2021, four more aircraft will join the ranks of the Russian armed forces.
T-14 Armata main battle tank
Russia’s Ministry of Defense is expected to pass into service the new main battle tank T-14 Armata in late 2020 or early 2021.
The T-14 is a first ever tank designed with network-centric warfare in mind. Its primary purpose is to do reconnaissance, target assignment and fire adjustment for artillery, air-defense systems, and other tanks.
The Armata is also a stealth tank with seriously reduced radar, infrared, and magnetic signature. It comes with a fourth-generation reactive armor that guarantees 95 percent protection against man-portable anti-tank missiles. Its multi-layered metal and ceramic front armor is as strong as one meter of regular homogenous metal armor – no existing shells or anti-tank missiles can penetrate it.
2S35 Koalitsiya-SV self-propelled artillery
The Russian military got the first batch of the 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV artillery system in May 2020. In 2021, the defense industry is expected to supply much more 2S35s to the Russian Armed Forces.
The Koalitsiya-SV is the newest generation of self-propelled guns. Its significant firepower comes from a 152-millimeter cannon with a rate of fire of more than ten rounds per minute, higher than any other artillery system. One of the main features of Koalitsiya-SV is remote fire control. Its accuracy is ensured by an automated command-and-control system for weapon guidance, target selection and navigation.
TOS-2 Tosochka heavy flamethrower
Unlike previous models, the TOS-2 Tosochka heavy thermobaric flamethrower is mounted on a wheeled chassis, which significantly increases its operational range. It also has a specialized system that makes loading easier.
The difference between this new machine and the previous generation is that it’s highly automated. The TOS-2 has navigation equipment, meaning it can fire from unprepared positions, and its guidance and fire control systems are automated. Currently, new types of ammunition are being developed for the TOS-2. The Tosochka also has a mechanized ammunition loading system. The vehicle’s armor protects the crew from small arms fire.
Uran-9 combat robot
The Uran-9, a 12-ton combat robot, is designed for reconnaissance, fire support, and anti-tank warfare. It comes with a 30-millimeter 2A72 automatic cannon, a 7.62-millimeter machine gun, Shmel-M rocket-propelled flamethrowers, and an Ataka weapons complex with anti-tank missiles.
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