For the future however I think it will be largely the BMPs that will be focussed on ATGM teams and infantry threats to armour, but I suspect that the BMP and BTR components of any future Russian unit will be armed with a combination of high velocity 57mm guns and anti armour missiles for the BMP types and medium velocity 57mm guns and anti armour missiles for the BTR types.
For other vehicles I would suspect the addition of remote weapon stations with either machine gun or 40mm grenade launchers will become standard, so for a tank I think a 40mm grenade launcher is small enough and would carry enough rounds to be significant in combat... I suspect a 57mm grenade launcher might be too large and its ammo to big and bulky to carry a useful amount as a secondary weapon.
For the BMP and BTR platforms the high velocity 57mm gun would be complimented by a 40mm grenade launcher, while for the BTR with a 57mm grenade launcher the 40mm grenade launcher would be redundant.... so some sort of HMG or MMG mount might be better.
I also like the idea of including an additional autoloader turret bustle with 22 available rounds, but its vulnerability is still an issue - especially in urban combat; blow out panels are a great feature and ostensibly increase crew survivability but they render a tank defenceless by destroying the turret in the aftermath of its activation.
One of the features suggested for the Burlak design was for the rear turret bustle to be a tray that the autoloader ammo assembly was lowered on to... because it carried propellent and there was a risk or danger of explosion as it could also carry HEAT and HE rounds it was designed so it could be ejected in combat. As the turret bustle replaced the under floor ammo in the Black Eagle it wasn't really a useful design feature, but with Burlak you could simply put only APFSDS rounds in the bustle so any ignition would go out the blast doors in the top of the bustle and the whole magazine could be ejected with the tank then using ammo from the underfloor magazine instead.
Of course people object to that because you are essentially rendering the vehicle half armed... but 22 rounds is still a few shots and hitting a tank in combat is not that easy, while precisely hitting a turret bustle would be even harder. The Panther tank had horribly thin rear turret armour... but it remained a formidable tank because it is not so easy to hit the rear turret of any tank.
I'm puzzled by the dimensions of the T-90M; I looked at the specifications of the T-90M Proryv-3 and the width is apparently 3.78m -- wider than the width of the T-14 -> 3.5m. Is this correct? The T-14 must be wider to accomodate the three crew members in the hull.
My understanding is that the T-90AM needed to be made wider to accommodate new longer penetrator rounds in the autoloader... I believe the ammo storage in the Armata is different.
Would you consider a widening of the T-90M hull by 300mm (30cm) to be an improvement? You could conceivably then accomodate the Vacuum-1 APFSDS as well as the140mm propellant stub (attached) in one slot in the carousel without needing to separate the ammunition cassette and the propellant in the carousel. This would also speed up reloading.
The increase was to allow longer projectiles to be used, I doubt propellent charges could be stored in an extra 30cm space.
My understanding is that the projectile and stub are raised and rotated into the chamber together, rather than separately, so storing them at the same level would probably require a redesign because the thing that pulls out the projectile would then have to reach deep into the ammo position to get to the stub charge and pull it out too, whereas currently I believe the projectile is pulled out and onto the loading arm immediately followed by the stub charge and both are lifted and rotated together into the chamber.
You could then hold 44 rounds all under cover. What are your thoughts on an export customer of the T-90M specifying this "upgrade"?
There are already 44 spaces in the underfloor ammo magazine, but existing rounds and the new longer rounds fill those 22 spaces for rounds, and so the only space for the stub rounds are the remaining 22 positions for those stub rounds.
Short of removing the turret crew and adding a new layer of 44 spaces for rounds and charges, or adding the turret bustle autoloader I don't think they will be getting better than that... unless they develop a new EM gun that is 70mm or something that carries projectiles only as well as binary liquid propellent and magnetic accelerating coils in the barrel...
You could then hold 44 rounds all under cover. What are your thoughts on an export customer of the T-90M specifying this "upgrade"? A wider hull might even make it possible to accomodate the 2a82 gun and the 1500hp engine of T-14 Armata. This would make the T-90M as wide as the Kurganets-25.
Well even more interesting... with the automation and upgrades associated with the Armata tank... how about upgrading the T-90M into a two man tank with two crew in the front hull, and with no crew in the turret rearrange the ammo so they are stored in a spiral autoloader that allows the length of the rounds to overlap in a spiral pattern so that you could have effectively three carousel loaders... ie three layers of 22 projectiles spiralling upwards... the HE and HEAT rounds are relatively short so would fit in the original space no problem, but if you make it so the top two layers allow the tiny narrow projectiles to extend over past the centre of the autoloader allowing rather long penetrators without having to make the turret or the tank wider... the three layers for projectiles and one layer with three propellent stubs in each tube so as it reloads it uses the relevant projectile tube of which three are lined up with the bottom tube being the propellent tube, there being 22 of them but each one carrying three propellent stubs per tube. So from top to bottom you have three tubes with projectiles and one with three propellent stubs.
You could carry 66 propellent stubs and 66 projectiles... if you want more ammo than that you could have a rear turret bustle with another 30 rounds and propellent stubs.
the unmanned turret could also have grenade launchers and the main 125mm main gun and a coaxial MG.... the whole vehicle could weigh less than 40 tons because the Armata turret could be used which lacks the heavy frontal turret armour of the T-90AM... the standard 1,200hp engine would give it plenty of power and acceleration on the battlefield. Depending on the sensors and APS systems and ERA it could be quite cheap to buy and operate, yet rather potent in operation.
Or you could widen the hull by 160mm (16cm) and have an armoured turret bustle autoloader to just hold the 44 propellant stubs with the actual rounds (44) being in the carousel autoloader. The propellant stubs are only 140mm in length, so you could probably have a Leclerc size turret to accomodate them.
A direct hit to the carousel would no longer be dangerous as the propellant would be housed separately in the turret; survivability could be further enhanced if the HEAT and HE-FRAG rounds have electric fuses -- like you mentioned earlier.
The reason they rejected the Burlak design was that they think that a turret bustle storage idea is too vulnerable to enemy fire... from some angles a 50 cal SLAP round could potentially penetrate and start a fire for instance.
Personally I think the separation of ammo and fuel from the crew compartment is critical, but making the ammo a difficult target is also important, though ultimately protecting the crew is the priority.
If the ammo is set off in the rear turret bustle then the vehicle would then retire and the vehicle repaired or replaced while the crew would probably get another vehicle. Obviously if the enemy can hit your turret bustle easily then it stops being a useful place to store anything...
These musings of mine might be incredibly stupid ideas, but I felt compelled to send them out there.
That is exactly what I am doing myself... sometimes I think things but when I say them out loud I realise how absurd they actually are and have to reconsider what I think too.
Sometimes you don't know what will work or not until it is tried... I have plenty of British books on tanks from the 70s that claim that the 115mm gun of the T-62 is rubbish because it is so inaccurate... not based on results, but because it was a smoothbore gun.
For a very long time smoothbore guns were considered inaccurate, but for a tank they actually make a lot of sense.
The most important tank rounds are APFSDS rounds and HEAT rounds. Being a long narrow dart like projectile you can't spin one fast enough to stabilise it so the only way such rounds can be stabilised is with fins... like a throwing dart or an arrow... you just have to watch a bit of javelin throwing to see how terribly inaccurate they can be. The HEAT round creates a beam of plasma by superheating and super accelerating a thin layer of metal lining to penetrate armour... the centrifugal force of the round spinning ruins that beam and reduces penetration. Some HEAT rounds from rifled barrels have ball bearings to reduce the spin rate but generally fins are used to stabilise them in flight. The slow roll of a missile or rocket wont reduce performance much but the high revolution from a gun barrel will totally ruin its penetration performance.
All this means a smooth barrel is the best choice for a tank where APFSDS rounds and HEAT rounds with fins being the primary ammo for a tank.... fin stabilised HE rounds are not the primary round but with fin stabilisation are accurate enough.
A smoothbore barrel means higher velocities with the same barrel length or a shorter barrel for the same velocity... easier to make and easier to clean... and lighter than rifled barrels.