No evidence of Russian T-14 Armata tank’s practical abilities

When Russia develops a new weapon, one thing is for certain: it will be thoroughly tested. Recently, these tests have often been conducted in real combat zones like Syria and Ukraine. However, unlike other weapons, the T-14 tank did not return from these arenas with the usual fanfare. 

Russian T-14 Armata tank falls short in Ukrainian battlefield
Photo by Sean Gallup / Getty Images

The Kremlin officially stated that the T-14 Armata was “withdrawn” from the conflict in Ukraine due to its high value. Yet, even before February 2022, it was evident from various sources that funding for this project was strained. 

Boasting features such as a 125 mm smoothbore gun, enhanced armor, and an onboard reconnaissance drone, the Armata signifies a notable investment in Russian military technology. Nevertheless, its real-world effectiveness remains uncertain, raising questions about its combat viability.

Russia completes trials of T-14 Armata tank with 152 mm gun
Photo credit: Dzen

“Excellent performance”

“The T-14 Armata tank reportedly performed exceptionally well on the battlefield in Ukraine,” according to local Russian media, quoting high praise from the Kremlin. But is that the whole story? The T-14 Armata’s presence in Ukraine was indeed brief. Last year, a few units were sent to test their mettle in real combat. And that was the extent of it. 

Rumors circulated that the Armata managed a long-range hit on a Ukrainian target. Even if this were accurate, the Kremlin’s enthusiasm seemed rather muted. As we’ve seen, especially against the backdrop of current military actions in Ukraine, Moscow is quick to extol its achievements. Imagine if footage emerged of the T-14 in action, with a drone capturing a successful strike from above. But such evidence is conspicuously absent. 

Russia completes trials of T-14 Armata tank with 152 mm gun
Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images

Russia is experiencing considerable tank losses in Ukraine. They produce, repair, and have enough resources to sustain these losses. However, these battlefield developments likely contributed to the withdrawal of the Armata. The Russians might not have been satisfied with the tank’s performance. While we can’t be sure, the Kremlin’s noticeable silence on the capabilities of the so-called “excellent tank” in Ukraine speaks volumes, especially when mere rumors about a missile hitting a hospital can spark widespread speculation.

Russia claims…

The T-14 Armata is a next-generation Russian main battle tank developed by Uralvagonzavod. It is part of the Armata Universal Combat Platform, which includes various armored vehicles. The T-14 represents a significant advancement in tank design, incorporating numerous innovative features aimed at improving its combat effectiveness and survivability on the modern battlefield. 

Russia completes trials of T-14 Armata tank with 152 mm gun
Photo credit: Dzen

The dimensions of the T-14 Armata are notable for their balance between size and maneuverability. The tank measures approximately 35.3 feet [10.8 meters] in length, including the gun, and has a width of about 11.2 feet [3.4 meters]. Its height is around 10.5 feet [3.2 meters], making it relatively low-profile for a main battle tank, which helps reduce its visibility to enemy forces. 

The T-14 Armata is powered by a ChTZ 12N360 [A-85-3A] diesel engine, which produces around 1,500 horsepower. This engine allows the tank to reach speeds of up to 56 miles per hour [90 kilometers per hour] on roads and approximately 31 miles per hour [50 kilometers per hour] off-road. The propulsion system is designed to provide both high speed and agility, essential for modern armored warfare. 

One of the standout features of the T-14 Armata is its advanced armor protection. The tank utilizes a combination of composite armor, reactive armor, and an active protection system [APS] known as Afghanit. This multi-layered approach is designed to protect the tank from a wide range of threats, including kinetic energy penetrators, anti-tank-guided missiles, and rocket-propelled grenades. 

T-14 Armata's gun targets up to 8km on ground and air - Russia
Photo credit: Reddit

The T-14 Armata features a revolutionary crew capsule design. The three-man crew [commander, gunner, and driver] is housed in an armored capsule located in the front of the hull, separate from the unmanned turret. This configuration enhances crew survivability by isolating them from the ammunition and fuel, reducing the risk of injury or death in the event of a turret hit. 

The fire control systems on the T-14 Armata are highly advanced, incorporating multiple layers of technology to ensure accurate targeting and engagement. These systems include a multi-channel sighting system for the gunner, a panoramic sight for the commander, and an automatic target-tracking system. Additionally, the tank is equipped with a ballistic computer and a laser rangefinder to enhance firing accuracy. 

The main gun of the T-14 Armata is a 125mm 2A82-1M smoothbore cannon. This gun is capable of firing a variety of ammunition types, including armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot [APFSDS] rounds, high-explosive anti-tank [HEAT] rounds, and high-explosive fragmentation [HE-FRAG] rounds. The tank can also fire anti-tank guided missiles [ATGMs] through the main gun, extending its engagement range and versatility. 

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

The operational range of the ammunition fired by the T-14 Armata’s main gun varies depending on the type. APFSDS rounds typically have an effective range of up to 2.5 miles [4 kilometers], while HEAT and HE-FRAG rounds are effective at shorter ranges, generally up to 1.8 miles [3 kilometers]. The ATGMs, however, can engage targets at distances of up to 5 miles [8 kilometers], providing the T-14 with a significant standoff capability.