Russia completes trials of T-14 Armata tank with 152 mm gun

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Tests for a new version of the T-14 tank are almost done. These tests are happening at the 38th Research Institute of the Ministry of Defense of Russia. In December 2023, we learned that the Rostec corporation is making progress on this powerful T-14 Armata tank. Sergey Chemezov, the head of Rostec, shared this in an interview with RIA Novosti, highlighting the tank’s great potential. 

Photo credit: Dzen

Chemezov highlighted that the new T-14 tank will soon be more challenging for enemies, as final adjustments are being made during tests. “We finished it some time ago, so we will soon see the results,” Chemezov said last December.

He added that the latest T-14 tank, built on the “Armata” platform, now has advanced electronic systems made in Russia. This upgrade also includes a new fire control system. However, he did not provide more details about this enhanced T-14 version and its increased firepower. 

Photo credit: Dzen

Later, details came out from a source in the defense industry. They revealed that this new T-14 model replaces the 125-mm 2A82-1M gun, which is 56 calibers long, with a much-improved 152-mm smoothbore 2A83-1A gun that has a chrome barrel and is 48 calibers long. 

It’s interesting to know that the 2A83 gun series was first developed in the ’90s for Russia’s next-gen tank, known as the T-95 or “Object 195” in project documents. This barrel is based on the 2A65 artillery gun used in the 2S19 Msta-S self-propelled artillery system.

However, in 2009, the experimental project “Object 195” was stopped. The Ministry of Defense said it was outdated and not worth upgrading because it had too many old Soviet-era technologies, was too heavy, and had more firepower than needed for a main battle tank. 

Photo credit: Dzen

After this, the Ural Design Bureau for Transport Machine Building [UKBTM], part of Nizhny Tagil JSC NPO Uralvagonzavod, started a new project called “Combat System of the Future Armata.” This led to the creation of a new light tank, “Product 148,” later known as the T-14. 

During this project, engineers from Nizhny Tagil designed several versions of the tank featuring an uninhabited combat module and a single isolated armored crew capsule. The T-14 main battle tank was fitted with a cutting-edge 125-mm gun called the 2A82-1M. They also made an export version and one with a stronger 152-mm gun called the 2A83.

In 2015, the designers from Nizhny Tagil began developing a robotic version of the T-14 tank, which also features a 125-mm main gun. Rostec announced the start of prototype tests for this unmanned T-14 in April 2020. 

Photo credit: Reddit

Right now, official updates on the unmanned T-14 are hard to come by. Since 2022, all information about vehicles on the Armata platform, including their deployment, has been kept secret. So, we shouldn’t expect more details soon. 

The robotic T-14 project was put on hold due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and increased production of T-90M main battle tanks. Even so, neither the manufacturer nor the Ministry of Defense has given any official updates about the vehicle. Officials from the state corporation have remained notably silent on this matter. 

Regarding the experimental T-14 with a 152 mm gun, the Russian Ministry of Defense began testing its effectiveness in February 2016. This version was known as a “combat artillery vehicle” [CAV] based on the Armata platform, designed for specialized combat missions alongside main battle tanks. 

Photo by Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Experts expected these vehicles to be delivered for testing a few years ago. But even after more than eight years, they are not yet in use. Plus, there’s little information about any work being done on them. 

Some believed the project was paused to focus on another version with a 125 mm barrel. Others thought the project might have been permanently stopped. However, no official statements were made about this vehicle until December 2023. 

Recently, a well-known Russian military expert shared online that work on this project is still ongoing. An informed source has been emphasizing this since last year.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

In modern military operations, experts say the Russian army’s need for such vehicles is clear. They state that an experimental tank based on the “Armata,” with better firepower, is showing unique and versatile capabilities during tests. This tank can perform various enemy-striking tasks, unmatched by any other tank globally. 

Experts point out that this experimental tank has a hull nearly identical to the basic T-14 Armata tank, armed with a 152-mm gun. While the combat module remains mostly unchanged, some updates and unique features have been added. These changes align with the tank’s key design ideas, they say. 

Details about the hull and combat module modifications are not shared, but insiders say the new T-14 version has more power a 152-mm barrel and a redesigned, stealthier turret. This welded turret with multilayer armor includes tools and sensors, giving it a sleeker, more protected shape.

Photo by Natalia Kolenskinova

It’s worth noting that the arrangement of equipment in the combat module, such as video cameras, radar panels, ultraviolet direction finders, KAZ elements, and electronic warfare systems, might differ. However, this hasn’t been officially confirmed yet. Until the vehicle is officially shown, it’s too early to go into these details. 

What we do know is that the new ammunition and larger caliber projectiles have led to changes in the automatic loading system and the placement of the ammunition rack. This change, although significant, was somewhat expected. 

For context, the transportable ammunition for a 152-mm version of the “Armata” tank is set for 40 shells, with 24 stored in the automatic loader. Comparatively, the standard T-14 version, which has a 125 mm gun, carries 45 shells, 32 of which are in the autoloader.

Video screenshot

The new version of the T-14 tank packs more firepower with a 152 mm caliber artillery shell. Additionally, it can fire modern ammunition over a meter long. This includes advanced high-explosive and thermobaric projectiles with remote detonation, and powerful armor-piercing finned projectiles with a core length of 1024 mm, made by Rosatom. 

The new 152 mm caliber BOPS is made from very strong and heavy materials, possibly including depleted uranium. Its effective range is around 5 km. 

This vehicle will also use the latest Krasnopol family artillery projectile, which has a bottom gas generator and satellite navigation. This high-precision projectile was developed for the Russian Koalitsiya-SV self-propelled gun and is also compatible with the new Malva-wheeled self-propelled gun. 

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The reported range for hitting a tank target with this ammunition is 70-80 km, setting a new record for mass-produced projectiles in its class. Additionally, the 2A83-1A barrel can fire an anti-tank guided missile from the 9M133FM family, designed for the Kornet ATGM. This missile has a caliber of 152 mm and can penetrate up to 1400 mm of armor and 1200 mm of armor behind dynamic protection, effective from 150 meters to 10 km.

The Kornet ATGM series, designed for contact and non-contact detonation, has different types of warheads: high-explosive, tandem-cumulative, and thermobaric. One impressive variant, the 9M133FM-3, can target low-flying, subsonic air threats traveling up to 900 km/h at altitudes up to 9 km. Essentially, it turns the T-14 with this missile into a versatile short-range air defense system. 

Moreover, the 2A83-1A’s 152-mm barrel lasts about 280 rounds compared to the T-14’s base 125-mm barrel, which can last at least 900 rounds. The upgraded tank’s artillery version can fire 10 rounds per minute, compared to 12 to 15 rounds per minute for the standard 125 mm version. However, the 2A83-1A barrel is almost twice as heavy—at 5 tons—with the 2A82 weighing 2.7 tons.

Initially, the design ensured that switching from a 125 mm gun to a larger one wouldn’t require changing the turret ring system. However, this change can increase the vehicle’s weight, which might affect its mobility. 

The T-14 MBT, with its original 125 mm gun, was reported to weigh 55 tons. However recent information suggests that designers managed to reduce the T-14’s weight during optimization. It’s unclear how long this process took. 

Additionally, there’s exciting news: this new “Armata”-based vehicle will come with an onboard reconnaissance drone. This drone will help scout and target with high precision over long distances. Specific details about the drone, including its features and range, are yet to be shared.

The modern 152 mm version of the T-14 tank can fire long-range guided missiles from the Krasnopol family. These missiles use a laser for final-stage guidance, making them highly accurate. 

Experts have noted that, unlike the standard T-14, this experimental version has an improved guidance system and a new digital fire control system, ensuring precise artillery strikes. This upgrade was confirmed by the head of Rostec. 

When talking about the T-14 variant with the 125 mm smoothbore gun, it’s important to know that it is now in service. Some reports say it hasn’t been deployed yet, but it was actually commissioned in 2022 and is regularly delivered to the military.

Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images

This information was also highlighted by Sergey Chemezov, head of Rostec. Interestingly, the exact number of tanks delivered from the “Armata” platform is not disclosed because of the program’s special status. About the T-14 tank’s state trials and expected service entry by the end of the year, it’s important to note that these refer to the updated T-14 version, which includes extensive combat experience. 

This change happened around the same time as the release of the T-14 variant. Military expert Viktor Murakhovsky, editor-in-chief of “Arsenal of the Fatherland” magazine, said the updates mostly involve changes to the tank’s electronic systems, based on information from his defense industry sources. 

Sanctions from countries unfriendly to Russia have likely played a big role in this decision. Russia is now focusing more on making important systems and parts locally, based on their recent combat experience. 

Previously, there were reports that troops received simpler versions of the T-14 tanks with fewer features. However, specific details about the full capability of the serial T-14s are not shared for security reasons. 

Moreover, to enable the mass production of combat vehicles on the Armata platform, a new assembly shop has been built and is now running at Uralvagonzavod in Nizhny Tagil.

Production of the T-14 tank has now moved to UVZ’s main tank assembly workshop No. 130. This is the same place where the T-90M tanks were made before. According to a press release by Rostec, new advanced machinery and equipment have been set up for this new production line, as announced by the head of the workshop. 

A source from UVZ’s tank assembly workshop No. 130 shared some interesting insights. He said that the T-90M tanks being made now are very different from the older versions. While he couldn’t share specific details, he did say that the new T-90M models have seen major upgrades using the latest technology. 

In an interview with RIA Novosti, Viktor Murakhovski shared some updates. He said that mass production of a new T-14 tank will start this year. There is also progress on developing the new T-15 infantry fighting vehicle and the T-16 armored repair vehicle.

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