Russia's new battle tank, the Armata T-14, made its debut Tuesday in its first official photo from the Defense Ministry. The tank is part of an ambitious -- and costly -- revamping of the country's military, and the ministry published the photo (via Russia Beyond the Headlines) ahead of Victory Day on May 9, when 10 of the new tanks will parade through Red Square, the Moscow Times reported.
Images first leaked in late March of the heavily armored T-14, which is the main battle version of the Russian Armata tank class and features a 125mm gun that is remotely controlled, with an unmanned turret.
The tanks are a part of Russia's plan to update its military, and it has proven costly as the government aims to spend 23 trillion rubles ($433 billion) despite economic contraction, Bloomberg reported.
Finance Minister Anton Siluanov has called for the plan to be scaled back, while Moscow-based Center for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies has called the rearmament strategy an outdated Soviet approach.
“The modern Russian economy just doesn’t generate enough resources to finance the current 2011-2020 rearmament program,” CAST said in a report, according to Bloomberg. “This seriously reduces the ability to efficiently renew the Russian armed forces’ equipment.”
The rearmament plan has remained a priority for President Vladimir Putin, with military spending staying as planned, despite 10 percent budget cuts in most other areas. Defense spending accounts for a third of the overall budget in Russia, Bloomberg reported, while the economy is expected to contract by as much as 4 percent, amid a down oil market and conflict in Ukraine.
With growing tension in Europe, Russia has continued to increase its presence in Ukraine with an estimated 9,000 active personnel and troops in the eastern part of the country in early April. The conflict between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian government has claimed more than 6,000 lives. The Kremlin denies any involvement in the conflict, however.
The Armata T-14 tanks will be a star attraction of the celebration in 26 cities across Russia to mark the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, the Moscow Times reported.