TsNIITochMash, the Russian industrial design bureau tasked with designing and manufacturing new weapons for the modernization of Russian Armed Forces, has just leaked out new schematics of its next-generation airdroppable artillery piece, slated for testing by the Airborne Forces and the Naval Infantry later this year.
The image of the new "Lotus," a self-propelled, tracked artillery system, appeared in the design bureau's 2019 corporate calendar, was leaked on social media via the bureau's Instagram account, and was first reported by Sputnik.
Dmitri Melikhov, the chief engineer in charge of the Lotus project, was also featured on the image, who said, "the lotus flower was a kind of inspiration for us. Notwithstanding its outward fragility, it grows in the most difficult conditions. It is a perfect combination of beauty, grace, and indestructibility."
According to the chief designer, the Lotus airborne artillery system boasts "high ballistic characteristics and effectiveness of ammunition, designed in accordance with the principal of the 'golden ratio'," i.e. not only optimal weight and dimensions, but also a graceful silhouette, said Sputnik.
The new artillery piece is expected to replace the Nona-S, a lightweight, air-droppable 120 mm gun-mortar, a Soviet design from 1981 which debuted in the Soviet-Afghan War.
According to Zvezda, the official network of the Russian Defence Ministry, the Lotus has a maximum firing range of 13 km (8 miles), a rate of fire of 6-8 shots per minute, and features new high-precision ammunition.
The system is believed to weigh 18 tons, has a maximum speed of 70 km per hour (43 mph), and a four-person crew.
Airborne Forces will be testing the new artillery pieces in the second half of 2019 at several missile test sites. If all goes well, series production of the new self-propelled gun will begin in 2020.