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​How Many Tanks a Month russian "Uralvagonzavod" Can Produce, Really

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Tank production workshop at "Uralvagonzavod" armor repair plant / Open source illustartive photo
Tank production workshop at "Uralvagonzavod" armor repair plant / Open source illustartive photo

The numbers below may be approximate but the tendencies are clear and quite interesting

British newspaper The Economist has published an article with an assessment of the russian military industrial complex to produce new and refurbish old tanks for the russian army to replenish the equipment lost in battles against the Ukrainian Defense Forces.

Such interest to evaluate russian power is rather rare as Western media often tend to write about it in general terms or vague numerals. Which is why it caught our attention, and we noticed an interesting paradox: while the authors described some interesting tendencies, there are errors in numbers of russian tanks that we would like to make clear.

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Echelon of new T-90M
Echelon of new T-90M "Proryv" tanks for the russian invaders, January 2023 / Open source illustartive photo

Referring to the IISS data, The Economist journalists write there were "around 2,000" tanks in the russian fleet before the all-out war. To be more precise, the same IISS (International Institute for Strategic Studies) claimed that russia had about 2,927 main battle tanks before the big war broke out in 2022.

In one of the paragraphs, British journalists refer to russian media and say that russian "Uralvagonzavod" armor plant can produce up to 20 tanks, and in the other fragment they say it "rebuilds about eight tanks a month". And here's the dilemma, does the plant eachmonth deliver 20 new tanks + 8 refurbished, or 20 combat-ready tanks in total.

Then, we find out that the other repair plants "each refurbish around 17" a month. Although it would be more correct to say those are the plants owned by the russian ministry of defense, therefore they don't have an option to build new tanks "from scratch" in general.

Transfer of a batch of T-80BVM tanks from
Transfer of a batch of T-80BVM tanks from "Uralvagonzavod", September 2022 / Open source photo

Especially given that the enterprises from this sampling make quite "heterogeneous products". For instance, one of these three plants is the 103rd Armor Repair Plant in Transbaikal which is specialized in modernization of T-62M tanks from local wartime reserve stocks.

Restoration of russian T-62M at the 103rd Repair Plant, October 2022
Restoration of russian T-62M at the 103rd Repair Plant, October 2022 / Open source photo

Moreover, The Economist considers the plans by the russian ministry of defense to build two more armor plants as a fait accompli, already built and ready to start working anytime soon. Therefore, the russian tank production and refurbishment capacity will reach 90 vehicles per month, based on the fact the new plants will add another +34 tanks to this capacity.

russian tank industry sending another batch of tanks to the russian army
russian tank industry sending another batch of tanks to the russian army / Open source illustartive photo

However, this is the case when quantity does not convert into quality at all. That is, for example, these "refurbished" tanks now have almost no high-tech equipment.to provide sufficient fire accuracy. It becomes all the more important now, since the russians tend to use their MBTs as "improvised howitzers" for indirect fire.

Even if the numbers don't line up, the described tendencies are well indicative: the russian army loses many times more equipment than the industry can put back in line. The military industry of the russian federation failed to drastically increase the number of tanks produced, even despite hiring more employees and switching to a schedule of 12 working hours per day.

In order to ramp up the capacity, russia needs to build +2 armor plants, and in reality, it is much harder to do than to announce. To say the least, because the armor repair branch of industry is formally divided between two different power verticals with quite dialectical relations.

Batch of TOS-1A
Batch of TOS-1A "Buratino" heavy flamethowers, handed by "Uralvagonzavod" over to the russian army in September 2022 / Open source photo
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