Russia’s One Giant Problem With the T-14 Armata Tank

The T-14 Armata is one of the most powerful and advanced tanks in the world... but it has one big problem!
T-14 Armata Firing

The T-14 Armata is one of the most evolved tanks. It’s a fifth-generation tank resistant to Apache attacks and most of the recent anti-tank missiles. It also has groundbreaking weapons to attack, but it also has some elements that play against it.

In consequence, the T-14 Armata may be as good as the M1 Abrams.

Why is the T-14 such a great tank?

Main battle tank T 14
Main battle tank T-14 by Vitaly V. Kuzmin, licensed under CC by 3.0.

The T-14 has the latest military technology, and it has the same capacities as the M1 Abrams. For example, the Afganit protective system protects the T-14 from rockets by blocking them before it hits the tank… It’s the counterpart of the Trophy Active Protection system of the Abrams tanks. It also features a millimeter-band radar that detects, tracks, and intercepts anti-tank missiles, kinetic penetrators, and tandem charges.

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It has a smoothbore 125 mm 2A82-1M main gun with a fully automated loading system that can be controlled remotely. The Armata’s armament has a 12.7 mm Kord heavy machine gun which is adequate against light armor and certain types of aircraft. 

The T-14 is a comfortable tank

Victory day T 14 Armata
Таnк Т-14 by Vitaly V. Kuzmin, licensed under CC 3.0.

The developers of T-14 Armata made sure to place wide-angle video cameras around the perimeter of the armor to enable the crew to see everything that is happening around.

However, the Armata is more comfortable than the Abrams. It can be operated by only 3 tank crew instead of 4, and as it needs less crew, there’s more space for more ammunition and fuel inside the tank, which increases its capacity and autonomy. Similarly, the T-14 Armata even has a toilet so that the crew doesn’t have to leave the tank for physiological reasons.

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It’s a smart t²ank

T-14 Armata in the street
4mayrehearsal by Vitaly V. Kuzmin, licensed under CC by 4.0.

The Armata is a tank conceived for network-centric warfare as it regularly interacts with other tanks, tactical groups, infantry, attack helicopters, etc. It allows the T-14 to exchange data and support the crew monitor the situation in real-time, just like the Abrams.

T 14 specs / M1 Abrams specs

T-14 close-up
Т-14 by Alexey Vasilenko, licensed under CC by 4.0.

T-14 Armata

  • Weight: 55 tons
  • Speed: 56 mph
  • Unit cost: $3.7 million
  • Height: 11 feet
  • Width: 11 feet
  • Main armament: 2A82-1M 125 mm smoothbore cannon

M1 Abrams

M1A2 SEP v3 weight: 73.6 short tons

  • Speed: 42 mph
  • Unit cost: $6.21 million to US$8.92
  • Height: 8  feet
  • Width: 12 feet
  • Main armament: M256A1 120 mm smoothbore gun

Both tanks are amazing but the T-14 has advantages over the Abrams. Early estimates put the cost of each T-14 at $4 million per unit, compared to $6.21 million to US$8.92 for the Abrams. Similarly, the T-14 main gun is bigger, which is a real challenge for the Abrams.

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So… What’s the problem with the T-14 Armata?

T-14 Armata in a parade
T-14 Armata by Dmitriy Fomin, licensed under CC by 2.0

While this tank has incredible performance and has nothing to envy other top tanks like the Abrams, it is also true that the cost has been an important consideration for its production. And although this tank is a low-cost weapon compared to the Abrams, Russia is far from fulfilling its objective of having 2300 T-14s by 2025.

In fact, the goal of having 2300 tanks has been reduced to 100 by 2022. Russia has only managed to build 20 on an experimental basis and to test the performance of this tank… But it has only been used for parades.

Both tanks have superior performance but the Abrams has proven capabilities

There’s no doubt that the T-14 Armata represents a breakthrough in tank design. The Russian tank exceeds the Abrams in many features of firepower, mobility, and crew protection.

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In some performance areas, it is slightly better than the Abrams, and this will certainly incentivize the US military engineers to build a better version of the Abrams very soon. 

But it is also true that these advantages are still only on paper. To mass-produce a tank there are several engineering difficulties to get them to the battlefields.

That’s why the T-14 Armata has been delayed so many times and has so many problems that keep delaying its official appearance.

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Feature image credit: Army-2016 by Sergey Bobylev, licensed under CC by 4.0.