Medvedev nearly dubs T-14 as a ‘parade tank’ in T-90M contrast

Dmitry Medvedev, the Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council, revealed the reasons behind the Russian army’s decision not to deploy the new T-14 Armata main battle tank in Ukraine on February 22. 

main battle tank t-14 armata
Photo credit: Wikipedia

“The Armata is a new addition to our tank family and hasn’t successfully completed all testing phases yet,” he noted. Moreover, it isn’t exactly “the most economical option among tanks.” A prevailing viewpoint portrays the T-14 Armata more as a tool for public relations stunts rather than a feasible active service vehicle. 

Showcasing a degree of agreement with this perspective, Medvedev candidly admitted during the discussion on T-14’s non-deployment, “Parades are parades, and war is war. These are totally different things.” His statement clearly indicates that a tank appearing impressive in parades might not necessarily prove reliable on the battlefield.

Nearly nine years in development

As we approach its ninth anniversary, the T-14’s debut in May 2015 has become increasingly overshadowed by its tarnished reputation, stemming from the defense sector’s failure to produce a battle-ready tank of its class. 

The addition of insult to injury is the realization that most of what makes the T-14 revolutionary was actually developed almost to completion during the era of the Soviet Union, under the T-95 program. Widely seen as a more affordable and “lightweight” counterpart to the abandoned T-95, the T-14 was a project that the post-Soviet defense sector found itself ill-equipped to complete compared to the resource-rich Soviet Union.

T-14 Armata operates in Ukraine, but fires from afar - media
Photo by Natalia Kolenskinova

T-90 is better

Vice President Medvedev defended the decision not to use the T-14 tank in battle, instead highlighting the strengths of the T-90M tank, which is currently favored by the Russian military

“We have a solid asset in our T-90M Proryv. This unique tank was praised by President [Putin] himself as the best in the world, and I wholeheartedly agree,” he said. Medvedev noted that those involved in Ukraine operations corroborated this opinion. 

He went on to share that, “The troops returning from the frontlines and those in charge of equipment orders can’t stop praising the T-90M. It’s an excellent weapon.” Back in March 2023, Medvedev stated: “In my view, there’s no comparison for the T-90M tank… It’s superior to the Leopard, Challenger, and Abrams [tanks] across all technical data, even in terms of weight.” 

New 200 T-90M tanks sent to the eastern Ukrainian front line
Photo credit: comp-pro.ru

In July, merely four months later, President Vladimir Putin also praised the T-90M’s resilience following an incident involving a roadside bomb.

Briefly T-90 history

The T-90, an upgraded version of the T-72 tank, was introduced in 1973 as an affordable yet effective alternative to the T-64 main battle tank, a revered addition to the Soviet Army from the previous decade. 

500 Soviet T-72 tanks (derivatives) 'can go' as aid to Ukraine
Photo credit: Pinterest

Initially named the T-72BU, in 1990 the tank was rebranded as the T-90, a move designed to underscore its supremacy and enhance its appeal to international buyers. The T-90M, the most transformative model to date, holds its own place within the Russian tank portfolio, with its firepower, sensor systems, and armor protection being particularly commendable. However, despite its impressive credentials, it hasn’t quite reached the capabilities of the T-14, given that the latter represents a totally new design. 

In 2023 plans were put in place for a third type of main battle tank to join the ranks. This tank will be based on the T-80, an advanced counterpart to the T-72, once the best in the Soviet Army until its production ceased in the 90s in favor of the more cost-effective T-72/90. While it’s plausible that this new version of the T-80 will be produced alongside the upgraded T-90s, the fate of the significantly more advanced T-14 project remains uncertain.

T-14 is valuable

One of the key reasons the T-14 Armata stands out is due to its remarkable features, primarily its exceptional crew survivability rate. This is made possible by the innovative design of its unmanned turret, which provides a fortified separate compartment for the crew. 

The Armata’s front-facing primary armor, measuring over 900mm, combined with the reactive Malachit explosive armor and the cutting-edge AFGHANIT active protection system, is speculated to outperform other tanks globally in terms of survivability when evaluated theoretically. 

However, the Armata doesn’t just stand out in terms of protection but also excels in its sensor and weapon technology. It shows significant improvements when compared to other models like the T-90M and other Russian tanks. Its Vacuum-1 armor-piercing, fin-stabilized, discarding-sabot ammunition offers exceptional penetration capabilities, which are believed to be more than sufficient to penetrate any opposing vehicle head-on, especially in conflict zones such as Ukraine.

Newest Russian tank in the mud at a training ground in Kazan
Video screenshot

T-14 range

Boasting a strike range triple that of any tanks currently operated in the Western sphere, the T-14 garners significant attention. Test trials have been initiated, with a confidential source in the Russian defense industry reporting its deployment in Ukraine. As per the state-managed TASS media in August 2023, the insider stated, “The Armata tank has seen action several times within the Ukrainian military conflict zone. The insights gained from its performance in this distinct military operation are now being utilized to refine the vehicle.”

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