Prime Minister Vladimir Putin praised a new Russian tank boosting the Uralvagonzavod company that made it after criticism of its design caused concerns that Moscow might turn to a foreign tank maker.
Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said this year the new T-90S and other Russian tanks did not meet the needs of a modern army and another commander said Moscow could buy three German Leopard tanks for the price of one T-90S.
But, visiting an arms fair in the Urals city of Nizhny Tagil, Putin said Russian producer Uralvagonzavod had made changes to the design of the T-90S which addressed criticism of its range of fire, Reuters reports.
“This was the main concern at the Defence Ministry,” Putin told the tank’s designer, Andrei Terlikov, after climbing inside it.
Putin pledged 64 billion roubles ($2.165 billion) from the federal budget over the next few years for Uralvagonzavod. The company is due to the privatised with a 25 percent stake to be sold through an initial public offering.
The new tank is equipped with guided missiles that can be fired from the main barrel up to a distance of 5,000 metres, more than that of its main competitors, the Leopard and the U.S. Abrams tanks.
Domestic arms makers stand to gain from a $650-billion programme Putin has announced to modernise the army but Putin has said they must ensure they offer top-quality products.
In a sign that is prepared to look abroad for quality products, Russia has already signed $1.5-billion deal with France for two Mistral class helicopter carriers made by a French-led consortium. The Defence Ministry has also indicated that more orders could go to foreign arms makers.
The Russian army has about 10,000 tanks and mainly uses the T-80, which is also made by Uralvagonzavod.