July 15, 2002
Nizhny Tagil Mayor Nikolai Didenko told the press that the International Weapons Exhibition "Russian Expo Arms-2002" won $ 1.5 billion in orders for the Sverdlovsk Region. Held in the city of Nizhny Tagil on 9 to 13 July 2002, over 1,500 pieces of hardware were displayed. In addition to small arms and light artillery, the displays included the T-90S, T-80UK and T-72M1M tanks, BTR-80A and modernized BTR-70 APCs, 300-mm Smerch and 122-mm Grad multiple rocket launch systems, Msta-S modernized self-propelled howitzers, Nona self-propelled artillery system, BRDM-2 modernized armored reconnaissance vehicle and 2S25 Sprut-SD anti-tank self-propelled gun.
Russia's arms exporting agency Rosoboronexport's current orders total 13.5 billion dollars, with aviation technology, anti-aircraft systems and naval ships accounting for the bulk of export contracts. Rosoboronexport plans to exceed this year's military equipment export target, with the 2002-to-date military export revenue already exceeding $ 2 billion and the Russians hope their second half performance is just as good. Kuwait and India were two countries rumored to be interested in major purchases.
Russia and Ethiopia signed a military development and technical cooperation agreement in Moscow on 8 July. The Russians expect to make deliveries of their latest military hardware, as well as modernizing Soviet-made weapons and hardware already used by the Ethiopian army.
The T-90S demonstration was one centerpiece of the show, engaging targets using it's thermal sights through a screen laid by it's smoke grenade launchers. In a recent visit, Indian Defense Minister George Fernandez announced that his country was considering the possibility of purchasing another 300 of the Russian tanks. Another tank was driven 100 yards under water, proofing it's fording capabilities.
Egypt also held meetings with the Russians on upgrading 200 of their Soviet-made T-62 tanks, to include fitting 120mm main guns to the Egyptian MBTs. Egypt last purchased 14 T-80 UK commander's tanks and 20 T-80U main battle tanks from the Russians in 1997.
Russia's chief of the main armor department Sergei Mayev revealed that Russian military designers were developing a fifth generation (but as yet unnamed) main battle tank, equipped with robotics and more powerful weapons. The T-72M1M upgrade was already available for purchase, which would bring a standard T-72 nearly up to T-90 performance levels. The Russian army also has about 6,000 T-72 tanks that need upgrading, which Mayev hoped to have accomplished by 2006. - Adam Geibel