Garry, the below press release is interesting and will interest you as it is related to the upgrading of T-72.
Someone had earlier posted the Russian version of this news in this thread. The English version is here below.
Thanks for that...
What does that mean? Armata is a design/project that is continually evolved from the T-90? I personally don't have a problem with it as my personal opinion is that the basic T-72/90 is a good design and can evolve further.
Keep in mind these companies are tasked with developing and integrating the electronics and communications in Russian tanks, from the new stuff for Armata to stuff for the T-90AM and upgrades of older vehicles.
Not just tanks in fact... all armoured vehicles... this is the Army equivalent of the Sigma system for the Navy.
The Armata is a tank designed from scratch, but its electronics will be the best they can develop, and the best they can develop they no doubt put in the T-90AM.
They will be continually improving it, making it more effective, smaller and lighter, cheaper, more capable etc etc.
They will also need to get them into service and make them compatible, so the T-72 upgrade software and hardware needs to be able to communicate with all vehicles in a way that is seamless. A T-72 commander should have all the same capabilities and options as the commander of a T-90AM or Armata... a bit like the internet really... you need a phone line and a modem or router of some sort to connect. The computer you are using to connect to the internet could be an old Apple IIe, or an Amiga 500, or a Cray super computer... the people you are sending emails to probably wont be able to tell the difference.
This company is developing the software and hardware for the Russian Armys new brigades and it says that 5 different hardware and software setups have been developed, and these will be put in to different vehicles. For instance there will be one setup for tanks, which will have options and capabilities relevant to a tank commander. "tanks" in the Heavy, Medium, and Light Brigades will get that same setup. Obsolete vehicles can become part of the brigade by getting the same software and hardware setup, so an upgraded T-72, a T-90A and an Armata might operate for a time in the same brigade and have the same setup so they can communicate and cooperate.
It is basically a C4IR system with 5 different versions... one for tanks and tank like vehicles, one for troop carriers, one for armoured recovery vehicles and support vehicles, one for artillery vehicles, one for air defence vehicles perhaps, or the artillery and air defence might have a similar setup and there might be a special command setup for command vehicles.
The platform doesn't matter, so for instance a 2S23 Sprut like vehicle would have a tank setup because its role is as a (light) tank. BMPs and BTRs will have a troop carrier setup... whether they are Typhoons in light brigades, Boomerangs and Kurganets-25s in the medium brigades or Armatas in the heavy brigades.
Of course in the heavy brigades now while there are no Armatas then they might buy some BTR-Ts to operate with T-90s as they share the chassis base which would offer better armour and chassis commonality and better protection over the BMP-3.
If they are going to save money not buying T-90AMs now and upgrade T-72s then they might also save money by converting T-72s with old turrets into BTR-T vehicles to benefit from commonality but gaining armour protection over the alternative of BMPs and BTR-82s.
In the medium brigades the BTR-82s and BMP-3s will likely be used till the Boomerangs and Kurganets-25s become available in numbers... the Kurganets-25s are the tracked models so it will be very interesting to see how they are armed... like BMP-3Ms or new 45mm guns or 57mm guns with new ammo...
Even if its the T-72 that is getting upgraded, it should not worry as that maybe cost effective for the Russians. Moreover, the T-72 upgrade (& T-90S upgrade) is having common systems. Or basically what UVZ developed for a complete/thorough upgrade of T-72 earlier are what got into the T-90SM/AM modernization, along with completely new turret for the T-90MS. If the upgrade of T-72 for Russian Army include the new turret then it would be great.
UVZ will likely be too busy performing upgrades to worry about not producing T-90AMs at the moment.
Of course in the future it all depends on the Armata and its cost... if it is expensive the next upgrade for the "T-72s" might be T-90AM related or simply a further updated T-90AM turret on an older chassis.
Even from the earlier pictures of the T-72 upgrade we can see few things that is on the T-90MS.
1) the new gun with muzzle reference.
2) rear hull mounted APU
3) armor slope on glacis make it look like it is with Relikt
4) a/c (hope so as it is covered)
5) full cover side skirts & Fence against RPGs
I agree, the "new stuff" applied to the AM that isn't too fancy and expensive could be applied to the T-72 upgrade.
They developed a new Russian AC system and would expect that will be fitted to Russian production tanks.
And its highly possible that the upgrade might involve the Kalina FCS & BMS that we see with the T-90MS.
Most of the electronics will need to be added to make the upgraded T-72 compatible with the new C4IR system.
Very likely Russian Army will modernize 1500-2000 unities sparing resources for finish the development and mass produce the new generation unified platform "Armata", we must remember that in the pasts Russian Army high officials have very often repeated that T-90 was considered by Russian Army, a stop-gap platform before the induction of...
The Russians talked about having the T-90 as the back bone of the Russian military well into the 2025 period in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Keep in mind this was when the T-95 program was live and military spending was almost non existent.
The plans then were for 5-6,000 tanks in storage with about 2,000 operational, and even then I think the plans were for lots of upgraded T-72s, plus T-90s with the brand new tank T-95 entering service in low rate production.
Now the T-95 was known to be expensive and I doubt the Armata will be cheap as such.
The often ignored component here is the 2,000 odd T-80s they have.
Personally I think the plan will be to upgrade the T-72 and keep the T-80s in service and "use them up" without major upgrades, and of course there is gap till about 2015 for the Armata.
Lets say they want a total force of 8,000 tanks they will have 2,000 odd T-80s though their numbers will decline in time likely to be ultimately replaced with Armatas or T-90s.
I think by the time they have upgraded a few thousand T-72s and gotten Armata into production that the cost of the T-90AM upgrade would have reduced to the point where they might consider production of Armata and T-90AM or whatever it will be called in 5 years time, perhaps with an Armata chassis to end up with a force of Armatas and T-90s.
The main purpose of the reforms was to get rid of all the low readiness units, so the operational units will get lots of practise so those T-80s and upgraded T-72s will get a bit of use and will likely be traded for more T-72s from stocks for the most part.
The prestige units will be equipped with Armata and have upgraded T-72s in reserve, but for most other forces I would suspect that Armatas and T-90s will be put in reserve to protect them from general wear and tear of exercises.
The Soviets had a practise of training tank crews on older tanks to save wear and tear (and ammo) on the newer vehicles, while still training the crews properly on real hardware.
Digital training will greatly increase but will never replace real exercises with real hardware.
It really all comes down to the cost of Armata as to whether all heavy brigades can be equipped with Armata vehicles or not. If not then the T-90AM has a shot in the future of being the replacement of the upgraded T-72s.