Russia’s T-14 Tank Being Tested in Final State and Troop Trials: Armata Set to Join Army By Year’s End

Photo of author

By Margaretd. Regina

New footage of from a Russian test range has shown personnel training to operate T-14 Armata main battle tanks during exercises, fuelling speculation that the class may be intended to belatedly enter service in the Army in the foreseeable future. The release of the footage was closely followed by a report from state media outlet TASS indicating that the tank was currently undergoing state and troop trials, and was set to join the Army’s active inventory before the end of the year. “The Armata [tank] is currently undergoing state and troop trials, and, if they are successfully completed, the tank may enter service with the Russian Army before the end of 2024,” one source stated, with the other confirming this information to TASS. During the trials, “particular attention is paid to the performance of those systems and mechanisms which previously drew criticism from the client,” namely the Defence Ministry, according the second source. Although the T-14 was first unveiled in 2015, and is closely based on the Soviet T-95 tank that had been scheduled for service entry in the early 2000s, its development has been hampered by very significant delays. 

As Russian forces have engaged the Western world’s most capable tank classes and anti tank weapons in Ukraine, officials have offered multiple explanations for why the T-14 has not been deployed to the theatre.  On February 22 Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev explained “the Armata is a new tank, which has not yet fully passed all trials,” and was also “not the cheapest of tanks,” with the official strongly praising the T-90M currently in service as sufficiently capable. The following month the head of the Russian state-owned defence conglomerate Rostec, Sergey Chemezov, stated: “in terms of its functionality, it certainly surpasses existing tanks, but it’s too expensive, so the army is unlikely to use it now. It’s easier for them to buy the same T-90s.”

The T-14 has nevertheless reportedly seen limited use in Ukraine for testing purposes, with an unnamed Russian defence industry source quoted by state media outlet TASS on August 21 stating: “The Armata tank was used several times in the zone of hostilities in Ukraine. Based on the results of its use in the special military operation, the vehicle is now being fine-tuned.” The source added that the tanks would be improved based on the results of its use in Ukraine, and that multiple T-14s were deployed by Battlegroup South to assess their performance in a real war zone. Footage released on May 16 that year allegedly showed a T-14 firing on Ukrainian positions in the theatre, providing the first indication of these test deployments.

The T-14’s performance is considered to be in a different league to existing NATO and Russian tanks, with its stated engagement range standing at triple that of top Western tanks while its Vacuum-1 APFSDS projectiles having a greater penetrative capability than any other known tank rounds. The vehicle makes use of an innovative unmanned turret allowing all crew to be housed in a highly protected separate compartment. Its frontal base armour protection of over 900mm, paired with Malachit explosive reactive armour and the AFGHANIT active protection system, provides a degree of survivability that on paper had no close rivals elsewhere. The T-14’s turret and crew seating arrangement, with three crew protected in an armoured compartment made from composite materials isolated from the remainder of the vehicle, is a key facilitator of the unmanned turret design isolating the gunner from the gun and the ammunition. This is also a key facilitator of a lighter weight for the vehicle despite the large size of its main gun and its rounds and the weight of its armour protection, as it forgoes the need to heavily armour a manned turret to protect a gunner.

Leave a Comment