Russia’s Patriotic Preparations Run Into Tank Troubles
Ahead of what’s meant to be their triumphant debut, one of the handful of Armata T-14s in the rehearsal ground to a halt directly in front of Lenin’s tomb in Moscow’s Red Square, stalling in place with the engine still running.
Russian defense officials have hailed it as a "true breakthrough" and a "masterpiece of modern tank construction." But that didn’t keep the country’s new and supposedly vastly improved tank, the Armata T-14, from apparently running into some mechanical problems at a Thursday rehearsal for Moscow’s massive Victory Day Parade.
Russian defense officials have hailed it as a “true breakthrough” and a “masterpiece of modern tank construction.” But that didn’t keep the country’s new and supposedly vastly improved tank, the Armata T-14, from apparently running into some mechanical problems at a Thursday rehearsal for Moscow’s massive Victory Day Parade.
Ahead of what’s meant to be their triumphant debut, one of the handful of Armata T-14s in the rehearsal ground to a halt directly in front of Lenin’s tomb in Moscow’s Red Square, stalling in place with the engine still running. On May 9, Red Square will be the epicenter of one of Russia’s largest commemorations ever, for the 70th anniversary of the World War II Allies’ defeat of the Nazis.
“The tank’s driver raised a small red flag to show he had problems but managed to drive on about 30 minutes later after an attempt to tow it away was abandoned,” Reuters reports. “The parade announcer later announced that the stoppage had been planned to demonstrate how military equipment could be evacuated from the battlefield, prompting laughter from the rehearsal audience.”
The tank has been touted as a product of unparalleled engineering, with an unmanned, remote-controlled turret, a uniquely powerful gun with automated loading, a highly sensitive radar system, and improved armor. Those features don’t come cheaply: Each new tank costs about $8 million, roughly equivalent to an upgraded U.S. Abrams tank.
Moscow is paying about that same amount to ensure that no rain clouds dampen its victory commemorations. Early Saturday morning planes will spray any threatening clouds with silver iodide and other chemicals in an attempt to keep them from literally raining on Russia’s parade.
Nearly 80,000 soldiers will march in the parade, which will debut about 2,000 pieces of military equipment, including a new generation of howitzers, and hundreds of automobiles, planes, and helicopters in a clear show of military strength.
The showing of world leaders may be less impressive. Russia has invited 70 heads of countries and international organizations to attend, but it looks like only a couple dozen will show up – largely from former Soviet or Soviet-affiliated states. Raul Castro appears to be the only leader from the Western Hemisphere attending. North Korea has dashed speculation that its top leader, Kim Jong Un, would make an appearance.
Russia’s fleet of Armata T-14s won’t enter military service until 2020, by which date the country plans to have spent a total of more than $400 billion to modernize its military. Maybe by then, Russia will have worked out the remaining kinks in its fancy new tanks.
Until then, check out this video of the tank’s mechanical troubles:
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