Image ID T7TJK8 T-14 Armata main battle tank during the annual Victory Day military parade 09052019 Credit Planetpix,Alamy Live News EXP 19012024.jpg
A T-14 Armata main battle tank during the 2019 annual Victory Day military parade (Picture: Planetpix/ Alamy Live News).
Russia

Russia 'likely considering' deploying small number of T-14 Armata battle tanks in Ukraine

Image ID T7TJK8 T-14 Armata main battle tank during the annual Victory Day military parade 09052019 Credit Planetpix,Alamy Live News EXP 19012024.jpg
A T-14 Armata main battle tank during the 2019 annual Victory Day military parade (Picture: Planetpix/ Alamy Live News).

Russia is likely considering deploying a small number of its new T-14 Armata main battle tanks in Ukraine, according to the latest Ministry of Defence (MOD) Intelligence update.

The update says: "In late December 2022, imagery showed T-14s on a training area in southern Russia: the site has been associated with pre-deployment activity for the Ukraine operation.

"This followed pro-government Russia media outlets claiming T-14s were being prepared for deployment. However, it is unclear whether Russia has yet moved the type into Ukraine."

The intelligence did however note that "any T-14 deployment is likely to be a high-risk decision for Russia".

"Eleven years in development, the programme has been dogged with delays, reduction in planned fleet size, and reports of manufacturing problems."

Another challenge the intelligence mentioned for Russia "is adjusting its logistics chain to handle T-14 because it is larger and heavier than other Russian tanks".

It added: "If Russia deploys T-14, it will likely primarily be for propaganda purposes. Production is probably only in the low tens, while commanders are unlikely to trust the vehicle in combat."

The Russian T-14 Armata

In a departure from the historical tradition of Russian tanks being pragmatically designed and easily mass-producible, the T-14 Armata is technologically ambitious.

According to the official Russian government newspaper 'Rossiyskaya Gazeta', the Armata is fairly compact, 10.8 metres long, 3.3 metres high and weighs in at just 55 tonnes.

A significant part of its height is due to the miniature turret for its secondary weapon that sits above the main turret.

This weapon is the PKTM machine-gun, a tank version of the PK general-purpose machine-gun, which is a belt-fed 7.62mm weapon.

Watch: Challenger 2 vs T-14 Armata.

According to the website of the Russian arms export and import agency Rosoboronexport, the weapon is highly versatile: "The PKTM can fire cartridges with conventional, armour-piercing incendiary, tracer and enhanced penetration bullets. Ammunition is fed from a metal belt stowed in a cartridge box."

Its main weapon, the T-14 has a 125mm gun in its unmanned turret, which is controlled electronically from a protected crew capsule in the middle of the tank.

The main gun is fed by an autoloader and, as well as traditional rounds, it can also fire the Sprinter Anti-Tank Guided Munition (ATGM), which is effectively a guided missile.

Rossiyskaya Gazeta indicates that the top speed of the tank is between 75 and 80km/h, or 46.6 to 49.7mph, which must be an on-road figure. It is also meant to have an operational range of 500km, or 311 miles, which must be for on-road driving.

Image ID T4N25E Heavy infantry fighting vehicle T-15 Armata front view 07052015 CREDIT Andrey Kryuchenko,Alamy Stock Photo.jpg
The T-14 Armata battle tank has sophisticated traditional armour (Picture: Andrey Kryuchenko/ Alamy Stock Photo).

As well as the protected shell in the interior of the tank for the three crew members – the commander, gunner and driver – the T-14 has sophisticated traditional armour.

A translation by the US Army's Foreign Military Studies Office of a February 2015 Rossiyskaya Gazeta article by Sergey Ptichkin states that: "The forward (protected crew shell) has multilayered, combined armour protection which can withstand a direct hit of any type of rounds which exist today."

On top of this, additional protection comes in the form of an Afghani Active Protection System (APS), which is designed to track incoming projectiles and use charges to detonate them before they smash into the tank's armour.

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