According to news reports, including the Associated Press, the pride of the Russian military – Vladimir Putin’s T-14 Armata tank – broke down in the middle of Red Square on Thursday during a practice run of the Victory Day parade scheduled for Saturday. The state-of-the-art tank was one of eight rolling through Moscow Thursday morning when it unexpectedly came to a halt while the others rolled on.
According to the AP, the soldiers on hand first tried to tow the tank away, but were unsuccessful. After about 15 minutes, the problem was apparently solved, and the tank rolled off under its own power.
An executive of the company that produced the tank told the AP that, despite the apparent attempts to tow it away, the tank had not broken down and was functioning properly.
The T-14 is meant to be the main battle tank that will carry the Russian Army into the rest of the 21st century. Its unmanned turret is controlled remotely by crew members safely inside an armored compartment in the body of the tank. It has advanced weapons system and armor, and is believed to be a match for any tank currently in service with North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces.
The T-14 has been written about extensively in the government-controlled Russian press, and its public unveiling is being treated as a major event. In addition, the parade Saturday will be watched not only by millions of Russians, but also by dozens of foreign dignitaries on hand to hel celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. That means any malfunction of the tank during the actual parade on Saturday would be terribly embarrassing to the Kremlin.
The White House on Friday unveiled plans for a new effort to ramp up testing for Covid-19, which experts say is an essential part of limiting the spread of the virus. This chart from Vox gives a sense of just how far the U.S. has to go to catch up to other countries that are dealing with the pandemic, including South Korea, the leading virus screener with 3,692 tests per million people. The U.S., by comparison, has done about 23 tests per million people as of March 12.
The Air Force has scrapped a planned upgrade of its B-2 stealth bomber fleet — even after spending $2 billion on the effort — because defense contractor Northrup Grumman didn’t have the necessary software expertise to complete the project on time and on budget, Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reports, citing the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.
Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters that the nearly $2 billion that had already been spent on the program wasn’t wasted because “we are still going to get upgraded electronic displays.”
Bernie Sanders wants to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt, to be paid for by a tax on financial transactions, but doing so won’t be easy, says Josh Mitchell of The Wall Street Journal.
The main problem for Sanders is that most Americans don’t support the plan, with 57% of respondents in a poll last fall saying they oppose the idea of canceling all student debt. And the politics are particularly thorny for Sanders as he prepares for a likely general election run, Mitchell says: “Among the strongest opponents are groups Democrats hope to peel away from President Trump: Rust Belt voters, independents, whites, men and voters in rural areas.”
That’s how much Michael Bloomberg is spending per day in his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, according to new monthly filings with the Federal Election Commission. “In January alone, Bloomberg dropped more than $220 million on his free-spending presidential campaign,” The Hill says. “That breaks down to about $7.1 million a day, $300,000 an hour or $5,000 per minute.”