Upgrade of T-72s to T-72B3M variant provides cost-effective means of enhancing Russian land capabilities in 2021

Russia has kicked off its 2021 calendar with the Central Military District tank division performing armoured warfare drills in Chelyabinsk. Among the equipment deployed is the T-72B3M, an upgraded variant of the T-72. While the new generation T-14/T-15 Armata family is Russia’s flagship development within the land domain, upgrading the country’s sizeable fleet of T-72s to the T-72B3M variant would provide a cost-effective means of enhancing Russian land capabilities, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

GlobalData’s report, ‘Russia’s Defense Budget Analysis (FY 2020), Competitive Landscape and Forecasts’, reveals that main battle tanks (MBTs) are the second largest platform category within the Russian land domain, with US$1.7bn expected to be allocated to fund procurement between 2021-25. For Russian land platform procurement, cost-effectiveness is key, with the land domain set to receive the smallest level of procurement funding over the forecast period, only 9.9% of the total, which equates to US$5.9bn.

Harry Boneham, Associate Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Russia’s key strategy is to build universal combat platforms based on a single chassis, which can be modified to serve as MBTs, Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and Armoured Personnel Carriers. Backed by such a strategy, the country developed a prototype of its next-generation Armata universal combat platform, which is expected to serve as the basis for heavy fighting vehicles going forward.

“However, the modernizations to the T-72 address the historical design shortcomings to the extent that the T-72B3M can be regarded as an entirely new platform, rather than merely an upgrade in terms of performance. Therefore, a complete upgrade of the existing T-72 fleet would provide a cost-effective means of meeting MBT mix demands, with two modern MBTs (T-72B3M and T-14 Armata) being fielded simultaneously in the near future.”

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