By Arthur Dominic J. Villasanta , | April 20, 2017
Russia is denying persistent news stories in western media that its T-14 Armata main battle tank, which still hasn't been built, will be capable of firing tank rounds with nuclear warheads. It also denies its developing a nuclear tank round.
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One reason why it's impractical for Russia to develop a nuclear tank round is because the short range of a tank gun means the tank itself will become a victim to the nuclear explosion, either destroyed by the blast or its crew exposed to lethal radiation poisoning.
"The tank's gun (125 mm on the T-14 Armata) has a maximum range of 4 km. To use a nuclear weapon at that range is a complete suicide," said Sergey Kuznetsov, who runs a military program on Russia's NTV channel partly funded by the Russian government.
"Imagine what would happen on the battlefield, if tanks start shooting nuclear shells within a kilometer from people and from themselves, and when the wind will carry radioactive clouds for miles around."
Kuznetsov said it would be far more practical for Russia to develop more depleted uranium (DU) tank rounds, which have also armed the American M1 Abrams MBTs for decades.
The Russian Ground Forces have used DU rounds as ammunition for the main guns on its tanks since the late 1970s. DU rounds were fired from the 115 mm guns on the T-62 MBT, and the 125 mm guns in the T-64, T-72, T-80 and T-90 MBTs.
News reports over the past weeks say Russia might have begun work on developing a 152 mm nuclear tank shell to be fired from a future version of the T-14.
A new nuclear tank round is one of the end products of Russian advances in low-fission, high-fusion, sub-kiloton tactical nuclear technology. The Russians are expending significant resources to miniaturize nuclear warheads that arm their ballistic missiles and develop sub-kiloton low-yield warheads.
The development of a practical 152 mm sub-kiloton low-yield round will enable this munition to be used in the next generation Armata and other gun platforms such as the 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV, a 152 mm self-propelled gun based on the Armata chassis.
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