Head of Russian Army Talks New Artillery, Drone/Anti-Drone Technology and Bigger Tank Guns

In a recent interview with Russian-state owned newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazette, General Oleg Salyukov – Commander in Chief of the Russian Ground Forces – said that a range of new weapon systems were in development or under consideration to keep the army at the cutting edge of capability. He also gave hints as to projected deployment areas.

The latest Russian MBT, the T-14 Armata (Vitaly V. Kuzmin)

According to Salykov, by 2022 the Russian military is scheduled will get a new line of mobile artillery and mortars. These are being developed as part of the “Nabrosok” (Sketch) research and development program. Salykov said that:

“The new artillery pieces are meant to provide fire support for infantry units on the basis of computerized data gathering and sighting processes. They are capable of firing from unprepared positions and are suitable for operation on unfriendly terrain and in the Arctic.”

The general also discussed the need for cheaper anti-aircraft weapons due to the threat posed by small, cheap drones. Russian air defense systems have shown up poorly in recent conflicts in Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh where loitering munitions and suicide drones have proven very effective against them.

A Russian Pantsir-S1 engages a target with its autocannons at the Slavic Shield 2019 military exercise (Russian MoD)

To counter this the General said a relatively inexpensive, small missile was being developed to be added to the standard Tor-M2 anti-aircraft system capable of engaging these sorts of threats. He also pointed out that the new 57-mm 2S38 Derivatsiya PVO air defense artillery system was about to complete trials and begin entering service.

2S38 Derivatsiya PVO air defense artillery system

Additionally, the Russian military planned to integrate new technologies into their next-generation infantryman. Salyukov explained:

“One of the current research and development projects, being carried out at the request of the ground forces’ command, envisages creation of a new generation combat gear incorporating elements that enhance the personnel’s physical abilities, such as combat and special exoskeletons, and the integration of combat and support robots as well as reconnaissance and attack drones of small and mini class.”

Russia to Start Replacing RATNIK with SOTNIK in 2020
The SOTNIK next generation combat gear concept (Rostec)

This lines up with reports that the Central Scientific-Research Institute for Precision Machine Engineering (TasNIItochMash) is currently developing next generation combat gear. Named “Sotnik” (Centurion), this is projected to enter service, initially with special forces, in 2025.

Salyukov also added that though the current 125mm gun mounted on Russian tanks was sufficient for any role they currently faced, the army was not ruling out the possibility of up-gunning the current tank fleet. The Russian army is due to receive its first batch of its latest T-14 ‘Armata’ tanks shortly.