Each weapon system boasts particular features and aptitudes for carrying out the specific missions it was designed for. For instance, it’s much easier to steer wheeled vehicles. This advantage translates into better maneuverability in comparison with tracked systems. The wheeled versions are cheaper, faster, more agile, and lighter in weight. The smaller number of components that could potentially be damaged enhances its survivability. Wheels can be produced using various materials in orderto fitthe environmental conditions.Tracks are better suited for rugged terrain, plus they have other strong points. Robots use both – wheels and tracks – depending on their mission.But a wheeled tank with a heavy gun is a new type of military hardware. Russia’s Zvezda TV channel claims that Russia will be the first country to add that to its army’s arsenal. The project will be finalized within two to three years.
According to the terminology of the CFE Treaty, a fighting vehicle with a gun caliber of at least 75 mm, a 360-degree rotating turret, and a weight of at least 16.5 tons is considered a wheeled tank.
The 8×8 light wheeled tank (LWT) will be built on the basis of the VPK-7829 platform used by the K-17 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) and the K-16 armored personnel carrier (APC). In addition to the cannon, the platform is usually armed with a 2A42 30mm automatic cannon, a 7.62mm coaxial PKT machine gun (MG), and a Kornet-EM anti-tank (AT) missile system. The “fire and forget” AT missiles have spiral trajectory.The capability to fire missiles in salvo against two different targets at once increases the rate of fire and makes it possible to use fewer vehicles per mission.Fire control is computerized. A 12.7mm heavy machine gun or a grenade launcher can be installed instead of the basic 7.62mm MG. The new tank weighs 30 tons. It makes it possible to install the 125mm anti-tank Sprut-SDM cannon used by airborne troops or any other large-caliber gun.
The Boomerang platform offers full 8×8 drive with power steering on the front four wheels. Four wheels are fitted to each side of the hull.The diesel engine is a four-stroke, turbocharged UTD-32TR, capable of 510 hp. It uses both hydromechanical and hydrostatic transmissions. The modified engine is a single block unit that can easily be replaced under combat conditions. The hull can be fitted with variable height control suspensions.
The platform uses its V-shape to deflect mine blasts anywhere under the platform, thus protecting the personnel inside the hull. In addition to standard welded steel that offers protection from shell splinters and small arms fire, it is equipped with bolt-on ceramic armor to provide all-around protection against 14.5mm, armor-piercing ammunition, and fragments of 152mm rounds.
The vehicle is amphibious. It has a folding rectangular plate installed on the nose that opens before the vehicle enters the water, andit is then driven forward by two propellers installed on either side of the hull at the rear. The LWT is equipped with air-conditioning, an NBC protection system, and night-vision devices. Full 360° visibility keeps the crew safe inside the hull.
The concept of a LWT was prompted by the invaluable experience obtained in Syria. Heavy tanks are less maneuverable and become easy targets for jeeps with installed field artillery pieces – the weapon so commonly used by terrorist units. More agile LWTs could be more effective on the battlefield against these weapons. Besides, a wheeled tank could do a great job ofblasting bunkers and other fortifications, as well as machine-gun nests and armored vehicles of all kinds. The combination of a large-caliber cannon and its superior maneuverability make it perfectly suited for such missions. In addition, an LWT could take over some of the tasks currently being carried out by main battle tanks.
The new tank’s speed, transportability, low detectability, armor enhancements, and defensive aids to minimize losses would significantly enhance the combat capability of airborne forces as well as motorized and rapid-reaction units.The wheeled chassis makes it a perfect weapon for desert operations.
The new LWT (as yet unnamed) equipped with a heavy cannon and the BMPT-72 Terminator-2 armored fighting vehicle are examples ofone-of-a-kind wheeled systems not found in other countries’arsenals. They complement each other, providing the Russian Army with the capability to effectively ease the burden on the main battle tanks whilecarrying out specific missions against terrorist armed groups in any environment, including desert and urban warfare.