Russia’s T-14 Armata MBT: Generational Leap in Armored Vehicle Warfare
Andrei AKULOV | 04.05.2016 | OPINION

Russia’s T-14 Armata MBT: Generational Leap in Armored Vehicle Warfare

Russia’s brand new T-14 Armata main battle tank (MBT) made its first public appearance a year ago during the May 2015 Victory Day Parade. Unlike now, the vehicle was just a prototype shrouded in secrecy.

It has become known recently that Uralvagonzavod is set to deliver the first batch of 100 operational T-14 Armata main battle tanks to the Russian Ground Forces between 2017 and 2018.

The Russian army plans to acquire 2,300 T-14s before 2020. Sergei Chemezov, chief executive officer of the Rostec state corporation, told the Wall Street Journal that the tank was in serial production.

The vehicle is expected to be seen in public at the 2016 Moscow Victory Day Parade.

The new tank weighs 48 tons and could achieve speeds of more than 50 miles per hour.

3D printing has been used since 2015 to produce prototype parts – a real technological breakthrough!

Currently, the tank is armed with the standard 125-mm cannon able to fire multiple types of munitions. The turret is unmanned, there is no fume extractor. The firing rate is 10–12 rounds per minute. The maximum effective-penetration range is up to 8 km. The detection range of the tank's optical sensors is more than 5 km for tank-sized targets at day and at least 3.5 km at night through the thermal imaging channel. The laser rangefinder has a theoretical maximum range of 7.5 km. These systems are duplicated; in addition, there is a weaker third system which can fire on the move. The vehicle could easily be outfitted with a much more powerful 152-mm gun in the future.

The secondary armament consists of a 12.7 mm Kord (GRAU 6P49) machine gun with 300 rounds and a 7.62 mm PKTM (6P7К) machine gun with 1,000 rounds. All guns are remotely controlled. In addition, another 1,000 rounds can be stored separately. A 12.7 mm machine gun is installed above the turret roof-mounted commander's sight, which avoids visual obstructions, while the turret front has a slit supposedly intended for the coaxial 7.62 mm machinegun.

A digital control system directs the tank's movement, tracks targets and activates its defense systems, allowing the crew to focus on key combat functions. The tank is fitted with GLONASS and NAVSTAR GPS.

«Armata is far better than its best foreign analogs due to integrated protection systems», noted the expert at the Tractor Plants subsidiary. «No foreign tank fully embodies layered protection principles. Russia's does», said Mikhail Alexeyev, research director and chief designer of the Steel Research Institute.

Another specific feature is Afghanit active protection system (APS).

This system includes a millimeter-wavelength radar to detect, track and intercept and disrupt the guidance of incoming anti-tank munitions, both kinetic energy penetrators and tandem-charges.

The vehicle is also equipped with a countermeasure suite to jam enemy laser guidance systems. It can use interceptor rounds for the APS, which are fitted with explosively formed penetrators. Should an incoming round make it through the APS, the vehicle is protected by dual-layered Malachit explosive reactive armor in addition to robust passive armor. Slat armor is used to protect certain areas that would otherwise be vulnerable to rocket propelled grenades. The tank's crew of three is protected by an internal armored capsule. Both the chassis and the turret are equipped with explosive reactor armor from the front, sides and the top. The turret's shape is designed to decrease its radio and thermal signatures. The T-14 uses the integrated computerized control system which monitors the state and functions of all tank modules. In battle, the software can analyze threats and then either suggest or automatically take the actions to eliminate them. It can detect and rectify crew errors.

The T-14 is powered by electronically controlled ChTZ 12Н360 (A-85-3A) diesel engine delivering up to 1,500 hp. Operational range is over 500 km.

The tank stands out for its strategic mobility at the speed of 90km/h. Its moderate mass of 48 tons allows it to be easily rail- and trailer-transported, conserving its engine and transmission's service life, and it can navigate most of the solidly built bridges. Two tanks with their crews and all attending equipment can be easily airlifted by the heavy An-124 transport plane.

The tank is equipped with a 26.5–40 GHz radar that has a range of 100 km, which is mainly used by the active protection system. Up to 40 airborne or 25 ground targets up from 0.3 m in size can be tracked simultaneously. The tracking system provides an automatic firing solution to the destruction of the target, which can be then transferred to either the APS or the main gun control computers. The tank is able to give target designation for artillery and serve in air defence and reconnaissance functions. The T-14 uses highly protected communication channels that connect a group of T-14s and the command post.

Summing it all up, one should point out that the vehicle has a number of unique features to make it stand out against other tanks in the world. It has a modern armor system, an unmanned turret, and a crew compartment protected from the most common types of enemy fire. 

The Armata Universal Combat Platform consists of the T-14 main battle tank, the T-15 heavy infantry fighting vehicle and the T-16 armored recovery vehicle, among a host of other vehicles. The flexibility of the Armata platform gives it a good chance on the export market. The T-14 has unlimited potential for modernization, which together with a reasonable production cost, significantly increases its export possibilities. Armata can meet different needs of potential customers, operating across the combat spectrum. 

One more important advantage – the tank will cost a mere 250 million rubles ($3.75 million) when it enters serial production, putting the battle tank in strong position to compete with US and European rivals on the global export market.

Competitors to Armata, such as the German Leopard 2, the US M1 Abrams, and the British Challenger 2 are estimated to cost anywhere from $6.8 to $8.6 million.

Egypt, China, India and Iraq are among the potential buyers.

No doubt, Armata has great future. After all, it is the world leader – the newest and most radical tank design seen in many years. And there is hardly any rival in sight. 

Tags: Russia 

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