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Meet Russia’s New T-14 Armata: The Tank That Could Change Everything?

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

Russia’s T-14 Armata Tank Not Ready for Potential Conflict in Ukraine – Russia’s next-generation T-14 Armata tank has been called a paper tiger since it has endured delay after delay since its unveiling at a military parade in 2015. Often promised that it is going to the troops soon, it does not appear the tank is ready for combat against Ukraine in an invasion conducted by Russia – if the military incursion happens. However, if Russia keeps a permanent supply of troops and military hardware arrayed around Ukraine, which appears increasingly likely, the new tank could make an appearance at the front around 2023.

When Is This Tank Going to Be Ready?

But there has been a long litany of promises made and promises broken about the T-14. The claims have been dizzying.

Russian tank manufacturer Uralvagonzavod first said the T-14 would be delivered in 2018. Then the distribution of the first nine tanks would come in 2019. After this date came and went, the leadership said 20 would be tested and 80 would be ready by the end of 2021. Then that claim was changed to 20 being introduced. An additional optimistic statement said that Armata would enter serial production in 2022. Now we find out that much more testing will be required and the tank won’t be ready until after 2023. Are You Confused Yet?

On Paper The T-14 Armata Has Many Big Advantages

Russia’s new T-14 Armata could be quite the beast if it ever gets to a battlefield. Like American and Western tanks, it has a lower silhouette to make it a more difficult target to hit. One interesting design aspect about the T-14 is that the three-person crew sits in another armored compartment in the front of the tank away from the 125mmm smoothbore gun and ammunition storage. They depend on an autoloader.

Keep the Crew In a Different Compartment

The crew compartment is comprised of multilayer armor for better crew survivability. This reportedly could defend against a hit of nearly any type of round from tank fire. The forward section of the Armata is protected with an active defense system that is made to block anti-tank munitions from guided missiles, rockets, and rocket-propelled grenades.

The T-14’s “Mantiya” masking system features a radar-absorbent coating that the manufacturer claims will hide the tank from detection. The Armata has improved sensors, new communications equipment, and it includes an active electronically-scanned array radar.

How Does the Crew See?

The wide-angle cameras give 360-degree all-round imagery for the crew, with the commander’s sight on the turret also providing a full field of view. The gunners have a periscope and laser designator. The cameras deliver heat sensing and infrared targeting. This system is good in all weather conditions and in night and low visibility environments.

It’s Reported to Be a Fast Tank

The T-14 Armata weighs 48-tons and can scoot at 55 miles per hour on roads. If that speed is true, it would be faster than a T-90 and an M1A1 Abrams. With a 1,500 horsepower engine, it has a range of at least 311-miles.

Armata T-14

Main battle tank T-14 object 148 on heavy unified tracked platform Armata

T-14 Armata Tank

Image by Vitaly V. Kuzmin from 2016. Creative Commons license.

The T-14 Armata is not just a tank. It is meant to be an all-around platform for a new armored personnel carrier and other types of combat vehicles. Since the program has been so delayed, it doesn’t look like those vehicles will be ready any time soon.

Overall Cost Will Keep the T-14 Armata From Being Produced in the Thousands

Twenty T-14 Armatas, even if they were ready today, would not make a huge difference on the battlefield in Ukraine if the invasion actually takes place. This program is still in its test and experimental phase. The new tanks are believed to cost $4 million apiece. That doesn’t sound like much, but the Russians want to produce them in the thousands, so you could see how that $4 million would be multiplied to create an overall price tag that could force the Russians to re-calculate just how many they will build.

Russia’s defense acquisition system for tanks has to be seen as over-rated. They over-promise and under-deliver. It seems that military leadership has gone down the rabbit-hole of the Soviet era when the armed forces were under outsized military-industrial production quotas. Manufacturers simply lied about dates and capabilities to make their chain of command believe everything was going to plan.

With Putin distracted by the decision on whether or not to attack Ukraine, the tank maker, Uralvagonzavod, can take its time and send out optimistic signals to a military that has more on its mind than a future tank. However, if the new normal is a permanent deployment of Russian troops and material along the Ukrainian border, the T-14 Armata has plenty of time to be made in numbers.

Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, Ph.D., 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.

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.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Alex

    February 21, 2022 at 4:53 pm

    I don’t know where you even get such outdated information if the T-14 tank is both in mass production and in the combat units of the Russian army. I am sure that if something is on paper, it is your information.

  2. B

    April 8, 2022 at 11:44 pm

    Yes, we’ve seen hundreds of T-14 rolling over the Ukraine forces recently 😉

  3. GlueckAuf

    May 1, 2022 at 3:26 pm

    Despite the Armada designers’ “painted-into-a-corner” decision to move the turret crew (TC and gunner) into the driver’s compartment, all seated abreast in a so-called “protective capsule”, the basic survivability flaw inherent to every Russian-designed tank since the T-64 remains–it’s auto-loader’s ammunition magazine that resides in an un-armored, or (lightly-armored at best, in my estimation, due to Russia’s non-negotiable, <50t weight restriction) carousel just below the turret floor.

    When the turret or hull sides are penetrated by a HEAT or KE round or missile, all that carousel-loaded ammunition is typically touched off, either causing a massive overpressure in a closed turret that launches the turret skyward, or sending geysers of violently-burning propellant out of open hatches or access panels. The pictures of current Russian tanks that have either brewed-up or self-disassembled after this all-too-common secondary explosion of the magazine make it appear obvious to this former tanker that no Russian crew member is likely to escape alive from his exploding/burning T-14 due to the heat, blast, or shock of a basic-load eruption. Protective capsule or no.

    Another inexplicable flaw with the T-14 is the orientation of its APS system. With the countermeasure dischargers all tucked up under the turret ring overhang, its appears they're only designed to counter ATGMs in the horizontal plane. Trouble for them is, almost all new Western ATGMs (Javelin, NLAW, TOW2B) use the top attack or fly-over/shoot-down method of punching through the tank's weakest armor–the turret roof. This is an unbelievably poor design choice for such a fundamentally-important system on a presumably modern main battle tank.

    Aside from these design boo-boos, the current Russo-Ukrainian conflict has also amply demonstrated how poorly Russia maintains its tank fleet both in peacetime and wartime. And now with the T-14's remote crew "flawture", performing immediate action to repair even a simple fault in any turret-contained system will be nearly impossible during a firefight, leaving the crew the options to either 1) ride out the duel inside an impotent tank or 2) unass it under fire, assuming the main gun isn't in the way and the two hatches for three crewmen can still be opened. Given the colossal number of near-pristine T-80s, T-72s and T-90s Russia's tank battalions have donated to Ukraine in the current contest, it's hardly a leap to imagine in the next war that great numbers of factory-fresh T-14s, too, will be filmed being dragged away, post-battle, by indigenous tractors.

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