Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Russia’s T-14 Armata: The ‘Super’ Tank That Flopped in Ukraine?

Russia T-14 Armata
Russian Armata T-14 Tank. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

What happened to Russia’s vaunted T-14 Armata tank?

This feat of engineering was supposed to transform armored maneuver warfare for Vladimir Putin’s forces.

(Subscribe to Our YouTube Channel Here. Check out More 19FortyFive Videos Here)

Instead, it looks to be over-rated and lacks the ability to make a difference on the battlefields of Ukraine. Why has this tank become a paper tiger?

It has enviable characteristics such as a robust auto-loading main gun, an unmanned turret, and a powerful turbocharged engine. But Russia has struggled to build these in numbers, and the tank has not dominated the enemy as once advertised.

What Are the Problems?

The T-14 is expensive at nearly $4 to 6 million each, and not easily replaced if it is blown up. In Ukraine, defenders have made mincemeat of Russian armor using shoulder-fired guided anti-tank missiles and conventional artillery fire. If a T-14 Armata gets damaged, there are no spare parts available. If it breaks down, maintenance crews are not trained to bring it back to life.

Too Heavy for Muddy Conflict Zones

The T-14 Armata is also difficult to transport because of its heavy weight of 10,600 pounds. It could get stuck in the mud this spring when the ground thaws. Russia is only making about 20 to 30 tanks of all variants per month. The Russian army is losing many more tanks each month than that rate, some have estimated the occupiers have lost around 3,000 tanks. This is a slow production rate brought on by international sanctions. 

Armata: It Looks Good on Paper

When the T-14 Armata was introduced, there were reasons for Western militaries to fear it. It had in some cases better specs than the older base model M1A2 Abrams, German Leopard 2, and British Challenger 2. The T-14 has an unmanned remote weapons turret which increases survivability for the three-man crew. The autoloading 125mm smoothbore gun packs a wallop. There are 45 rounds on board. The cannon can also launch a laser-guided anti-tank missile. The fire control system is aided by thermal sights, a digital networking system, and advanced sensors to snoop out enemy tanks.

Crew Should Be Better Protected

The basic protection of the low silhouette tank is made up of modern steel armor and metal-ceramic plates. There is reactive armor on the sides, active and passive armor on the front, and slat armor on the rear. This configuration is supposed to protect the tank better than other vehicles in the Russian fleet, especially with its ability to thwart enemy anti-tank missiles, armor penetration, and sabot rounds with the new Afghanit protective system.

The gas turbine engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission puts out 1,500 horsepower and enables speeds of up to 55 miles per hour. The range of the T-14 is 310 miles.

Russia Originally Wanted at Least 2,000 T-14s

The Russians were so excited by the T-14 Armata since it was introduced in 2015, that they ordered 2,300 models by 2025. While estimates vary, the Russian army may have now only purchased 100 of the new tanks. A few have been seen on the battlefield in Ukraine, according to social media posts in October.

The T-14 may instead be set aside for export. The Russian military-industrial complex is more adept at building and modernizing T-72, T-80, and T-90 tanks. So, Ukraine is not the right war for the T-14. Russia is relying on legacy tanks that can be built quicker and more easily than the Armata. Plus, the Kremlin would be further shamed if its prized modern tank was destroyed by Ukrainian fire. 

Another Humiliation in the Current War

Thus, the T-14 has been an embarrassment that began when one broke down during the May 9 Victory Day parade in Red Square in 2015. The program has been jinxed since then. The 19FortyFive will keep an eye on whether the T-14 further makes appearances in Ukraine. So far it appears that the T-14 will be an afterthought for a Russian army that needs cheaper tanks built fast on proven platforms, rather than overhyped experimental technology demonstrators for next-generation warfare.

Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood 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. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.

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.



  1. Razumov

    January 5, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    Where is any evidence the Armata has ever been in Ukraine?

    Are you desperate yet that you are declaring the failure of weapons that haven’t even been used?

  2. Jacksonian Libertarian

    January 5, 2023 at 11:18 pm

    The whole purpose of the Tank on the battlefield, was that only another Tank could destroy it. That hasn’t been true for decades. Now they can be destroyed by dozens of different weapons and platforms, negating the value of armor, and the dumb guns. Even the guided gun rounds are of little use when fighting anything other than other armored vehicles.

    The fact is the Combat Power of Tanks on the battlefield has declined to the point where the Logistics would be better used on things that bring more Combat Power to the Army.

    Industrial Age dumb weapons are obsolete on the Information Age smart weapon battlefield.

    Combat Power rule of thumb: 1 smart weapon = 500 dumb weapons

  3. Matija Đurđević

    January 6, 2023 at 2:06 am

    As almost everyone who knows something about tanks the common knowledge is that tanks became obsolete after 1945. The subject is Russian tanks but that is the case with everyone, even the glorified Abrams. The West would gladly give tanks to Ukraine but there is a fear of driving it properly not to mention engaging the the “enemy_…imagine that debacle. Maybe the main focus in air-land inovation should be on F 35 , the greatest disappointed in military aviation.

  4. John Hammer

    January 6, 2023 at 8:06 am

    Leave it to the Russians to forget that it’s 2 greatest assets in its history have been its size & the mud of spring and fall.
    To build a tank that sinks in the mud that drowned Hitler’s Wehrmacht is dumbest thing I’ve heard in a long time.

  5. Gary Jacobs

    January 6, 2023 at 9:40 am

    LoL, Matija

    the death of the tank is greatly exaggerated. As stated in this article, the Israeli Trophy APS on their Merkava MBTs has defeated all ATGMs fired at them, including the latest Russian Kornets that Russia has allowed to get into the hands of terrorists in Hamas and Hezbollah.

    Now the US military has purchased Trophy for Abrams, and the Israelis have added versions of Trophy or Iron Fist to basically every other IFV and APC they are about to build and are looking at retrofitting some others.

    As for the F35, the idea its a disappointment is absurd. It sure had its growing pains, but there is a reason it continues to win bidding wars against every other 4th gen plane it competes against. not to mention red flag exercises with kill ratios of 20-1 against 4th gen planes.

    A single F35 is worth 3-5 4th gen planes. And they are much easier to fly. Just about every plane the US has ever built has a bunch of growing pains to work through before the project became mature. F35 is no different, and it is on a good trajectory in its growth cycle.

    F35s need tanks to take and hold territory, and tanks need f35s to maintain air superiority so they are not taken out by other aircraft…not to mention aircraft taking out enemy artillery be that barrel or MLRS.

    The symbiotic relationship will continue to exist for a long time.

  6. Tunneler

    January 6, 2023 at 9:51 am

    10,600 lbs? Please check your work before publishing.

  7. Allan Desmond

    January 6, 2023 at 7:17 pm

    The stupidity of this very inaccurate article written by a child ” No way a PHD “.. is mind numbing..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *