AMERICAN TANKS May Soon Be Equiped With Russian Missiles : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

This is from The Russia Journal

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Russian system may defend U.S. tanks

By JON WRIGHT / The Russia Journal

General Dynamics is considering using a Russian defense system for its Abrams tanks, the U.S. Armys main tank.

General Dynamics, the maker of the U.S. Armys Abrams tank, is considering the purchase of Russias Arena defense system, a company official confirmed. The U.S. Armys flagship M1 Abrams tank could soon be fitted with a Russian missile defense system  a move that military experts say would have been unthinkable in the recent past.

Abrams manufacturer General Dynamics was in Moscow late last month negotiating the sale of the Russian Arena protection system as part of its bid to win a tender to supply Turkey with 1,000 tanks.

Company spokesman Peter M. Keating said the talks could go as far as resulting in the Arena system being fitted to the U.S. Armys own fleet of tanks, a military cooperation between the two countries that, as far as he knew, would be unparalleled.

"We are looking at this for our armed vehicles," he said. "There could be various uses; I wouldnt rule the U.S. Army in or out of that."

Keating stressed that his company had not yet reached a decision on buying the Russian system. "But we are interested and will continue to look at it as we do with all armed vehicle technologies that we have the potential to use."

The Abrams tank is one of the worlds most efficient fighting machines. The MIA2 version is fitted with a 120mm cannon and three machine guns and has a maximum speed of 42mph. The MIA1 comes with a nuclear, biological and chemical protection system that the companys Website boasts "increases survivability in a contaminated environment."

Military experts say coupling the Abrams with the Russian Arena system would make for a truly formidable match.

Chris Foss, land forces editor for Janes Defense Weekly based in London, said the Arena system is "the most advanced system in the public domain."

"It is fitted on top of the vehicle, and in theory, it picks up a missile and sends out a projectile that explodes in front of it to either explode it or divert its course," he said.

"One or two companies in the West have shown an interest and might even have purchased samples. But Russia has put a lot of effort into this particular area, and this is their latest system."

Foss agreed with Keating that it would apparently be unprecedented if the U.S. Army adopted a Russian military system of this kind, although he said the Americans would probably re-engineer it to make it fit with their requirements.

That way, they could avoid potential enemies learning how to defeat the system if, for example, U.S. forces were to deploy Arena-fitted tanks in a future conflict with Iraq.

"I dont think they would go to Russia and buy it off the shelf," he said. "America would get a license to make it and further improve and develop it. There are different types of missiles, Western and Eastern missiles, and they would probably tune it to [deflect] the missiles they want."

Leland Ness, editor of U.S.-based Military Vehicles and Ordance Report, said the Russian defense industry has "some extremely clever and elegant designs."

In reference to Arena, he said this type of "kill mechanism" was ruled out by the U.S. Army in the 1980s when a top-secret program went wrong. In one test, the system reportedly destroyed a Bradley fighting vehicle as well as the incoming missile.

Dmitry Trenin, a military analyst with the Moscow-based Carnegie Center think tank, said if the Americans were to buy the Russian system, it would signal a new relationship between the two powers.

He said in the past, foreign countries came to Russia to look at military technology but simply took advantage of bargain prices to "pick the raisins out of the pie and return home."

"I think the frustration that so many people in the defense industry in this country feel about the U.S. comes from their view that the U.S. is out to hem them wherever it can  that it is not interested in doing things together and is blocking Russian access to some of the worlds most lucrative arms markets.

"If an economically sound way could be found to marry Russian to American and European defense industries, it could strengthen the foundation of a reasonable relationship between Russia and the NATO countries."

The opening of Eastern Europe after the Cold War has already resulted in some blending of military technologies, according to Vince Crawley of the Military Times News Service in Washington.

"NATO allies Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are equipped largely with Soviet-designed weapons," he said.

"As for Russian technology, the U.S. is taking a hard look in some areas. Russias ejection seats for fighters are considered superb, and Lockheed Martins vertical-landing entrant in the Joint Strike Fighter competition uses a three-bearing swivel exhaust system developed by Russia."

The Abrams is not the only tank that Turkey is interested in. It is currently carrying out trials with four models competing for the tender, General Dynamics Keating said.

He said he could not comment on the conditions of the tender, but Kolomna-based Engineering Design Bureau, manufacturer of the Arena system, said the tender calls for the tanks to be fitted with the Russian technology, ITAR-TASS reported.

The news agency said the deal is worth $7.1 billion, and the winner of the tender will be announced in June.

Keating said General Dynamics Abrams tank is competing with Germanys Leopard II tank, make by the Krauss-Maffei Wegmann firm, Frances Leclerc tank, produced by Giat Industries, and the T-84, through the Ukrainian state ministry that handles its export from that country.

He added that his firm would also be "interested in discussing" use of an Israeli tank protection system, similar to Arena.

"There are a lot of other systems on the drawing boards, but they are not as well developed [as the Russian and Israeli ones]," he said. "The U.S. itself has some research under way, but it is not ready for production."


-- Zdude (, March 06, 2000

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