It turns out that around the same time Russia claimed that its MiG-31 successor would fly in space, it also claimed that not only its next generation T-14 Armata tank, but the entire Armata armored vehicle series, will be able to run on Mars.
“Magic Starter: Armata Engines Make It Fit For Martian Temperature” was the headline of an article from Sputnik in late August.
“Russia’s Armata tanks and armored vehicles are to receive mobile power stations to ensure immediate and smooth engine starts at temperatures of even minus 50 degrees Celsius,” Sputnik, a Russian state-owned media outlet, said.
The Armata Universal Combat Platform is a new series of Russian tracked armored vehicles that have interchangeable hulls and parts. The vehicles have not been mass produced yet, but the series, which was unveiled in 2015, supposedly includes the T-14 tank, the T-15 (the next generation “Terminator“), the T-16, the huge Koalitsiya-SV, and maybe more.
Essentially, Sputnik is claiming that the Armata engines will run on Mars because they have new super-condensers, similar to start-stop technology, that allow the engines to start in temperatures as low as -58 Fahrenheit.
But, as The National Interest pointed out, not only is the average temperature on Mars at -80 Fahrenheit, and it can even get as low as -195 Fahrenheit, but the internal-combustion engine would also probably not be able to handle the Martian atmosphere.
To back up their claim, Sputnik cited an article from Izvestia, in which a spokesperson for Renova, the Russian company that made the engines, was quoted saying the engines started with dead batteries in -50 degree temperatures.
Neither Izvestia, nor the spokesperson for Renova — which are both private Russian companies, unlike MiG, which is majority owned by the Russian government — said that the engines or vehicles would run on Mars.
Yahoo News even reported on Monday that the FBI is investigating whether Sputnik is “an undeclared propaganda arm of the Kremlin.”
Still, back in the real world, these super-condensers might be a beneficial advancement, as they free up a lot of space in the Armata vehicles for more ammunition and will obviously make them well-suited for cold climates, like the Arctic.
And it’s not exactly clear if the US’ M1 Abrams engine has comparable technology, The National Interest reported.