Developed by the Russian-based Uralvagonzavod (UVZ) and officially unveiled during the May 2015 Moscow Victory Day Parade, the T-14 Armata is the new generation of main battle tank (MBT). Unlike many current Russian military platforms, which are largely legacy holdovers from the Soviet era, the T-14 is truly something new.
The outline of the tank, from its hull to its long and boxy turret, more closely resembles modern western tank turret designs and is quite the departure from past Soviet designs.
The T-14 Armata also features seven road wheels instead of the six wheels that were commonplace on most previous Cold War Soviet and even modern Russian MBTs. It is more compartmentalized than even contemporary western tanks.
Among the T-14’s innovative characteristics is its unmanned turret, which houses a remotely controlled 125-millimeter 2A82-1M smoothbore main gun and fully automated loader. Within the tank’s magazine, a total of 45 rounds of ammunition can be stored. The main gun can also fire laser-guided missiles.
The crew – which includes the tank commander, driver/mechanic and gunner are all housed in a crew compartment located in an armored capsule at the front portion of the hull, isolated from the automatic loader as well as the ammunition storage in the center of the tank. This is meant to provide increased survivability for the crew – and unlike other tanks, this one features an internal toilet (described as the “life support system”). Each crew member also has his own hatch at the front of the tank, with the gunner positioned on the left, the gunner in the middle and the commander at the right.
The modular-design of the T-14 also includes the armor system, which consists of steel, ceramics and composite materials. The tank’s forward section also features reactive armor, while the rear is fitted with bar armor to provide enhanced protection from anti-tank rocket-propelled grenades. To help ensure that the tank doesn’t need to rely on the armor to protect the crew, it is outfitted with multispectral sights with visible scope, thermal channels and even laser rangefinders.
According to Army-Technology, the commander’s sight is mounted to top of the turret where it can provide a 360 degree field of view, whereas the gunner’s sight is fitted with a direct-vision periscope and a laser designator. Additionally, wide-angle cameras are mounted to further enhance the situation awareness of the crew, while electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) based laser warning receivers are provided to spot potential threats.
The T-14 is powered by a gas-turbine engine that provided 1,500 hp and is coupled with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It has a maximum speed of 80 to 90 km/h and a maximum cruising range of 500 km.
What the Future Holds
Despite the advances, the biggest threat posed to the T-14 may not come from foreign adversaries but rather the cost. Russia has been slow to roll out the tank due to budget constraints. Only in December 2020 was it announced that serial production of the tank would begin to speed up the delivery of the tanks to the Russian military.
“In order to shorten the timeframe for deliveries of the prospective weapons to the troops, the launch of their production will be carried out before the trials are completed, as soon as it is confirmed that they have the specified characteristics and after they are tested under simulated combat conditions,” said Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko said in an interview with the Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper via Tass.
Last year, it was also hinted that Russia was also working on an unmanned version of the T-14 MBT. However, according to the report from Tass, the unmanned version of the tank won’t be serial-produced and instead will be designed for testing unmanned technologies for other land-based robotic systems. Russia’s Kalashnikov Group is currently developing ground combat autonomous systems – or robots – and those have already been employed in field testing in Syria.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.