So the Russians showed off their new main battle tank prototypes, and the surprise was modest. The biggest innovation was to reduce the tank crew to three in a front hull compartment, with an unmanned turret. This has been discussed and tested since the 1980's at the latest. You can find this configuration presented in the few decent books on tank technology as the way to go to enhance crew survivability with modest armor weight. The downside is that nobody has a hatch on the turret top with all-round view, but all that equipment on the roof (CITV, machineguns, laser warner, antennae) reduced this benefit long ago already. The new German IFV "Puma" has an unmanned turret as well.
|T-14 "Armata"MBT prototype on parade, (c) Соколрус|
Everything else was quite ordinary conceptually. Some of the features were reported as if they were novelties, but main gun-launched missiles have actually been introduced in the Red Army during the 1970's already, for example.
To be fair; the recent Japanese Type 10 medium tank
was (superficially) much less innovative.
I know many consider an unmanned turret only as an intermediate step; they long for an unmanned tank. Typically, they use the current Pentagon buzzword for it: "UGV". Drones or robots they are. And they aren't new; the idea is really old:
|Look at lower right for the date ... !|
I'm under the impression that some of the high profile unmanned vehicles (EOD robots, sentry robot cars, motorglider-like drones, turbofan-powered stealth drones) of today will have a brutal reality check during the next years, when seemingly old school equipment will be appraised as crucial and purchased in large quantities. We already see a move back towards more main battle tanks, and the CFE treaty de facto doesn't limit this any more since the Russians gave it up.
This means old school military theory about "conventional warfare" will regain popularity and prestige, and a likely busy field will be theories about countering salami slice strategies and strategic coup de mains. Mountain warfare theory will likely linger on in its near-coma, since after Afghanistan there's no likely terrain for major Western conflict participation in mountainous regions other than maybe the Caucasus (Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh). Eastern Europe is rather flat save for Western Ukraine and some coastal strip on the Crimea.
2013-06 Killer robots and LOAL munitions