The T-14 Armata Tank, Explained: The Russian T-14 Armata is a fourth-generation main battle tank (MBT) and product of an intensive program first launched in 2010. That program followed on the heels of the Russian Ministry of Defence’s failed “Object-195” program meant to design and produce the T-95 battle tank.
T-14 Armata, The Specs
The Armata program is intended to be a large technological leap from Soviet-era military hardware designs. Innovations include adding cutting-edge features to Russia’s cadre of MBTs, such as an unmanned turret with a remote controlled 125mm2A82-1M smoothbore main gun with fully automated loading and a total of 45 rounds of ammunition. Moscow also wants the ability to fire laser-guided missiles and the ability to be fitted with secondary weapons such as a Kord 12.7mm machine gun or PKTM 7.62mm machine gun.
On top of this, the Armata class boasts excellent meteorological sensors, satellite communications capabilities, a global navigation satellite system and data-link and radio communications antennae.
Perhaps most important is the T-14’s developments in crew safety: the three-man crew is highly protected in a multilayer armored crew compartment at the front separated out from other compartments within the tank. In total, the tank contains three compartments: one for the crew, one for the remote-controlled turret in center, and one for the power-pack located in the rear of the tank.
Not T-14 Armata in Mass Just Yet
Despite the T-14 being initially unveiled in 2015 at Russia’s Victory Day Parade in Moscow, mass production of the tank has famously stalled for years.
Russian manufacturer, Uralvagonzavod, first said the tank would be delivered in 2018, then it said nine tanks would be ready in 2019. The company then shifted again to say twenty would be tested with eighty ready by 2021, before pivoting once more to claim serial production would begin in 2022 before setting the date back again to 2023.
And with intensive economic sanctions recently leveled against Moscow as a result of its 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the T-14 has once again been put on the backburner.
Still, it is believed that Russia has perhaps a few dozen of the MBTs ready, so why are they not using them in Ukraine? This question has been the subject of great inquiry.
One potential reason is that there simply aren’t enough tanks to actually send and make a large effect. Indeed, when originally conceived, it was thought the Armata program would produce upwards of 2,300 MBTs by 2020. It may be that lacking sufficient numbers, it is not worth utilizing such precious equipment in the current conflict.
Although the T-14’s armor and anti-tank defensive systems should theoretically protect it from any Ukrainian firepower (including javelin anti-tank rockets and British NLAWs), a T-90M MBT—considerably well-armored—was recently destroyed by Ukraine. The destruction of that vehicle has been utilized with great effect by Ukraine and its media partners in the information battle. The destruction of even a single T-14 would be a massive reputational loss for Russia.
Yet given the T-14’s truly superior capabilities and Russia’s failure to so far achieve its war aims, its lack of deployment to Ukraine is still seen as confusing to some. While it is true that hundreds of Russian tanks have been destroyed during the invasion, most of these are rather dated. The T-14 would have been able to cross large swaths of territory quickly due to its 1,500 horsepower engine and long range. It also would have been able to neutralize Ukrainian infantry from afar using its new anti-infantry rounds.
The lack of the T-14 in Ukraine, then, is still somewhat of an open-question. In the end, it may simply be that the equipment is seen by the Russian military command as Putin as simply too limited and too expensive for use in Russia’s so-called “special military operation.”
Alex Betley is a recent graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where he was an International Security Studies Civil Resistance Fellow and Senior Editor with the Fletcher Security Review.
May 24, 2022 at 3:23 pm
“T-14 Armata: Why Russia’s Best Tank Isn’t Fighting In Ukraine?”
The short answer is because they can’t make them. There were scant details about the tank over the years, but it was mentioned back in 2014-15 that it used some Western equipment, like French Thales sights (like the T-90). It’s also quite expensive compared to the T-72 latest mod, which is currently fighting in Ukraine. The cost is one of the reasons why the Russian military did not order them.
May 24, 2022 at 8:29 pm
It is a failed design, the US tried it way back in the 80’s before deciding on the M1 Abrams.
The cost, the design, everything is playing a role and the Russians don’t have enough of them, and they have not been properly tested to be deployed.
May 25, 2022 at 10:33 am
I also suspect that many of the technological claims don’t work and they don’t want us to figure that out.
May 25, 2022 at 5:26 pm
This is all nonsense, the T-14 is not yet ready to fight, and Russia has a huge number of T-72s. No sane person would avoid spending the oldest he has in the first place. Western st Half of those weapons are defective. Expired stocks are being sent to Ukraine. In that way, they lead to huge victims
July 21, 2022 at 12:34 am
The picture at the very top of the article of a tank firing its gun is listed as a T-14. It’s actually a T-72. This article is as accurate as that tanks gun.
July 31, 2022 at 6:02 pm
First question would be has the author served in the military?
Second question would be why is it that lawyers are always trying to be military experts?
I agree with the author just above me. This article illustrates why our government and justice system are so inept.