Russia Re-Ups Its Land and Strategic Forces

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The Russian military continues its long-term modernization drive, aiming to re-equip its land and strategic forces. Russian daily Lenta.ru reports on the recently declassified new armored personnel carrier for the marines, designated as BT-3F. The prototype was built on the chassis of the long-serving BMP-3 line of combat vehicles and is designed both for export and for equipping Russian units. This new carrier’s armament includes a remote-controlled weapons module, as well as a remote-controlled combat module equipped with a 7.62mm machine gun.

In addition to weapons, the new vehicle is equipped with a thermal sight with a laser rangefinder. Other potential combat modules can include heavy machine guns and automatic grenade launchers. BMP personnel carriers have been a mainstay for the Soviet and later Russian armed forces since the 1960s, with thousands supplied for export all over the world. Numerous BMP upgrades and variants continue to serve with dozens of international forces and have participated in practically all major military conflicts since the line's initial 1967 unveiling. This vehicle remains the mainstay of many land armies, and is expected to operate for decades to come.

According to Lenta.ru, the designers decided to get rid of the turret and its 100mm gun -- the weapon choice of the original BMP-3 -- in order to increase the crew capacity of the new machine, which can now transport seven to 14 people. In a 2016 interview with the magazine Moscow Defense Brief, Alexey Losev, the head of export department and planning for Tractor Plants Corp. (KTZ), said that the company took the initiative and designed the vehicle at its own expense, adding that a prototype is scheduled to appear in the Army 2016 military forum this September. According to Lozev, there is already an export potential -- Indonesia recently expressed interest in the new vehicle.

Lenta.ru further reports that by 2020, a new missile will be developed in Russia that can fly at 6 to 7 times the speed of sound, as stated in a recent interview with Boris Obnosov, the director general of Tactical Missiles Corp. "I think that the beginning of the 2020s will be marked by Mach 6-7 speeds,” Obnosov said, adding that his remarks concerned domestic missiles only. According to the head of Tactical Missiles, the development of such missiles would significantly weaken existing air defenses. "In my opinion, there is nothing to discuss here -- it is clear that with the rocket able to fly in the atmosphere [at such speeds], it greatly weakens all existing anti-missile defense systems." 

Back in May 2014, Obnosov first reported on the approval of a Russian program to create hypersonic weapons and promised the appearance of such missiles in 2020. This ambitious missile development program involves dozens of specialized research and industry corporations across Russia. Should Russia succeed in creating and successfully fielding this missile, its would greatly strenghten its capacity to participate in military conflicts far from its borders -- the desire already demonstrated by Moscow in hitting targets inside Syria from the Caspian Sea. 

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