Russian T-14 Armata Super Tank Delayed Again: The Russians are known for boasting about new weapons systems and then not delivering the goods on time. And so it goes for the T-14 Armata – it’s not ready yet.
The T-14 is Russia’s next-generation main battle tank. It’s supposed to be faster, better armored, and even reportedly has radar-absorbent coating. But the life span and introduction of the tank has been mysterious with various Russian defense officials promising delivery with rosy scenarios and then making excuses on why there are delays.
Here is the latest state of play on the T-14 Armata:
A Different Russian Apparatchik Throws Cold Water On Its Readiness
There was one notable interview in December that gave something of a status update. Andrei Yelchaninov, first deputy chairman of the board of the Military-Industrial Commission, gave out some information on the Armata to a reporter from Interfax Russia.
Take What This Commission Says With a Grain of Salt
But first, let’s explain more about this commission.
The Military-Industrial Commission is supposed to coordinate the activities among the Russian defense ministry, the actual military, and the defense industrial base. It seems to have some bureaucratic heft considering the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces is in charge of the committee – and that person happens to be Vladimir Putin.
So due to its high position in the bureaucracy and desire to meet milestones, the commission may be playing spin doctor to please the boss.
Could This Defense Bureaucrat Give Us a Straight Answer?
Yelchaninov may have Putin’s ear and his opinions could carry more weight than a random Russian general. He discussed numerous weapons systems during the interview and had detailed answers. Take a look at what he said about the Armata tank when asked about the testing situation.
“The tests are continuing, this year the new ammunition for the tank has also entered the state tests. We expect their completion in 2022 in full, more than 40 Armata tanks will be transferred to the troops after 2023. The T-14 is a step forward for decades, the re-equipment of troops for this vehicle will be phased and smooth as the service life of tanks of previous generations expires,” said Yelchaninov.
Is It Ready Or Not?
This has got to be a disappointment for the Russians because the Armata will not go to the troops until after 2023. This is a big change from what military honchos said last year. Hang in there because this gets confusing. The leadership said 20 would be tested and 80 would be ready by the end of 2021. Then that claim was amended to 20 going to the troops. An additional murky statement said that Armata would enter serial production in 2022. Now we find out that much more testing will be required.
What Do We Know About This Tank?
The fourth-generation T-14 Armata is impressive, well, at least on paper. At first glance, you can see that it has a lower silhouette to create a more difficult-to-hit target. The Armata has a top speed of 55 miles per hour. The 125-mm gun is equipped with an autoloader.
Better Protection for the Crew
The tank has improved modular armor made up of a combination of steel and ceramics. It has better shielding against anti-tank rockets and rocket-propelled grenades.
Unlike other tanks, the three-person crew is placed away from the turret, which is safer for the soldiers. It has newer targeting and tracking systems that may have artificial intelligence characteristics. The tank has an advanced wide-angle video for a 360-degree view for targeting.
Army leadership is promising that the Armata will become a platform that will spawn a powerful T-15 infantry fighting vehicle and a T-16 armored recovery vehicle, plus other tracked vehicles.
The Armata Should Have Better Survivability
The tank comes with the Afganit active protection system that can sense incoming rockets and missiles. The Afganit system is designed to shoot these bogeys down before they hit the tank. It is protected from nuclear, biological and chemical attacks, plus it has a fire suppression mechanism and smoke grenade dispensers.
What Happens Now?
It is possible that testing will go faster on the tank and that it could enter into serial production sooner. But promises have been made and promises have been broken. We have heard that it is “going to the troops” before. The Russians would love to have it for a border deployment near Ukraine, but that won’t happen this year.
In the coming months, we will probably hear yet again from a different Russian defense official about the T-14 Armata becoming a game-changer in armored maneuver warfare. 1945 will keep you informed about the tank’s progress.
Now serving as 1945’s 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. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.