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Armata T-14: Why Russia’s New Tank Could Be a Waste of Steel

Armata T-14 Tanks
Armata T-14 Tank. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Armata T-14: When Will It Really Join the Russian Military in Large Numbers? Maybe Never. Can we trust the Russians when they say the T-14 Armata will be in service by next year? The Armata T-14, if you listen to Russian state-run media, is supposed to come out in numbers by 2022. But it has suffered schedule slips before, and it is expensive to produce.

Consider the short history of this supposed next-generation super tank. The Armata T-14 first showed its armored head in 2015 and the Russians said they were going to produce 2,300 and deploy them by 2020. That milestone has come and gone. Meanwhile, Russian defense officials say something new to the propaganda organs regularly about the future of the Armata. At least for the moment, here is what we know about the Armata T-14 tank platform and what might come in the immediate near term.

Armata T-14: Number of T-14s Are a Mystery

The Armata T-14’s numbers problem has been documented by 1945 before. Just how many of them are there? The Russian government has been misleading. First it was 20 were said to be deployed for testing and an additional 80 T-14s going to the troops this year. Then military leaders said only 20 would be delivered by the end of 2021. One other estimate said an “experimental-industrial” group of T-14s would be produced in 2022.

Well, which is it? That’s not clear with all the conflicting reports. And what does “experimental-industrial” mean? Are these test platforms or prototypes?

T-14 Has Notable Specs

By most accounts, the T-14 will be impressive.

The silhouette is lower and this makes it harder to detect. The steel-ceramic modular protection, or Malachit explosive reactive armor, is an upgrade over the T-90.

It has a 1,500-horsepower engine, which makes it run faster than the T-90 as well.

The Armata T-14 has a radar-absorbing coating.

It also sports the Afghanit active protection system. This has electronic warfare capabilities to confuse, spoof, and jam, plus even shoot down, enemy incoming rounds and laser guided munitions.

The crew of three will be protected by a separate armored compartment.

Could the Armata T-14 Go to the Ukrainian Border?

The Armata T-14 can’t be considered one of the best tanks in the world because it has such a spotty track record. One even broke down during a military parade in 2015.

We will just have to reserve judgment on the Armata until it is deployed to the border with Ukraine, somewhere it could serve as big detterent and has a chance to be tested in potential combat operations.

Approximately 90,000 Russian troops are currently on the Ukrainian border. And they are reportedly even staged in separatist portions of Eastern Ukraine. The Russians also had 150,000 troops on the border in April. This year the Americans gave Ukraine $150 million in defense-related material to help even the balance.

Satellite imagery recently reported these are Russian tanks from the 1st Guards Tank Army. The 1st Guards Tank has enjoyed a colorful history going back to World War II and is considered elite. It has a force of 500 tanks that are mostly T-72B3s and T-80s. This seems like a clear place for Moscow to place Armata T-14s in the near future.

1945’s new Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.