Leaked Ministry of Defence memo warns of dangers over Russia's new supertank

An anonymous army intelligence officer has questioned whether British military technology can compete with Russia's

Caroline Mortimer
Sunday 06 November 2016 18:09 GMT
Armata tanks roll along Red Square in Moscow to mark the 71st anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory in the Second World War
Armata tanks roll along Red Square in Moscow to mark the 71st anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory in the Second World War (AFP/Getty Images)

British military intelligence has issued a warning over a new supertank being developed in Russia, according to leaked Ministry of Defence documents.

An internal briefing paper written by a senior Army intelligence officer has cast doubt on the UK’s ability to combat the threat of Russia’s new Armata tanks.

It also criticised the Government for not planning to launch its own new range of supertanks for at least 20 years.

The paper, seen by The Sunday Telegraph, said: “Without hyperbole, Armata represents the most revolutionary step change in tank design in the last half century.”

It said the tank was already lighter, faster and stealthier than any Western rival and would be kitted out with the same radar system which is currently used on Russian fighter jets.

The report said: “For the first time, a fully automated, digitised, unmanned turret has been incorporated into a main battle tank. And for the first time a tank crew is embedded within an armoured capsule in the hull front.”

The author of the study suggested the UK had fallen behind in developing the “technological arms race” between major nations because it had been focusing on developing tanks which could withstand attacks of IEDs left on the roadsides of Iraq and Afghanistan.

It also highlighted that the Russian armed forces is expanding at the same time the UK’s is shrinking due to budget pressures.

It said Russia already has a fleet of 2,500 tanks with a reserve of 12,500 in addition to the 120 Armata tanks a year it plans to build from 2018. This is roughly “35 times the size of the fleet of the British Army”.

It comes after Russia released the first pictures of its brand new “super nuke” missiles which are said to be capable of almost “wiping out New York state”.

The Kremlin wants to replace its Soviet-era SS-18 Satan weapons with a new generation of RS-18 Sarmat super-missiles which one expert said would make the bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki look like “popguns”.

Russia’s investment in its military comes at a time when tensions between Moscow and the West are at their worst since the end of the Cold War.

Last month, the Russian government launched a nationwide civil defence training exercise to ensure the country was prepared for a nuclear attack from the West.

Zvezda TV, a news channel run by the country’s Defence Ministry, warned: “Schizophrenics from America are sharpening nuclear weapons for Moscow.”

Meanwhile, Russia has allegedly been stepping up its cyber attacks on Western targets with the US security services saying they were confident that a state-sponsored hacking group was behind the leaking of damaging emails sent between members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

The Minstry of Defence declined to comment when contacted by The Independent saying they do not comment on leaked internal memos.

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