UK Intelligence wonders if Russian army will deploy T-14 Armata tanks in Ukraine


According to a tweet from Defence Intelligence posted on January 19, Russia is likely considering deploying a small number of its new T-14 Armata main battle tanks in Ukraine. In late December 2022, imagery showed T-14s in a training area in Southern Russia: the site has been associated with pre-deployment activity for the Ukraine operation.
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On December 23, 2022, T-14 Armata MBT Main Battle Tanks were spotted in a military training camp in Russia (Picture source: screenshot from Youtube)


This followed pro-government media outlets claiming T-14s were being repaired for deployment. However, it is unclear whether Russia has yet moved the type in Ukraine. Any deployment is likely to be a high-risk decision for Russia. Eleven years in development, the program has been dogged by delays, reduction in planned fleet size, and reports of manufacturing problems.

An additional challenge for Russia is adjusting its logistics chain to handle T-14 because it is larger and heavier than other Russian tanks.

If Russia deploys T-14, it will likely primarily be for propaganda purposes. Production is probably only in the low tens, while commanders are unlikely to trust the vehicle in combat, Defence Intelligence writes.

Т-14 Armata (industrial designation: Object 148) is a main battle tank (MBT) based on the Armata Universal Combat Platform. The Russian Army initially planned to acquire 2,300 T-14s between 2015 and 2020. By 2018, production and fiscal shortfalls delayed this to 2025, before Russia announced the apparent cancellation of the main production run on 30 July 2018. However, as of 2021, the Russian state-owned TASS media agency claimed the Armata had been expected to begin serial production in 2022, with the delivery of a test batch of 100 to the 2nd Guards Tamanskaya Motor Rifle Division expected to begin in 2022. The tanks were planned to only be officially transferred following the completion of all state tests. In December 2021 the Russian state conglomerate Rostec stated that serial production had commenced, with "more than 40" Armata tanks anticipated to be delivered to Russian troops after 2023.


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T-14 Armata MBTs spotted during training on 23 December 2022 (Picture source Twitter account of Defence Intelligence)


Alleged deployment in Ukraine

On 25 December 2022, the TV presenter and apologist of the Russian leadership, Vladimir Solovyov posted footage of the T-14 in combat training with other sources claiming that the tank was being prepared for battle and already deployed to the "special military operation" zone. There has been no external confirmation so far, but neither have the claims been refuted.

The T-14 is designed to be highly modular, allowing for easy upgrades and maintenance. However, it is not yet in full production and service with the Russian military as of 2021.

The T-14 Armata is a Russian next-generation main battle tank. It was first publicly revealed in 2015 and is expected to enter service with the Russian military in the near future. The T-14 is notable for its advanced features, such as an unmanned turret and a remote-controlled weapon system, as well as its use of active protection systems to defend against anti-tank missiles. Additionally, the T-14 is also equipped with an integrated communication system, navigation equipment and a power unit with a capacity of 1,500 horsepower.

The T-14 Armata is armed with a 125 mm smoothbore cannon, which is capable of firing a variety of projectiles, including armor-piercing, high-explosive and anti-tank guided missiles. The tank also has a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun and a 7.62 mm machine gun for air defense and anti-infantry purposes. It is also equipped with an active protection system (APS) which is designed to detect and intercept incoming anti-tank missiles and rockets. The APS uses radar and electro-optical sensors to detect incoming threats, and then launches small interceptor missiles to destroy them before they can hit the tank.


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T-14 Armata MBT displayed at Armya 2019 defense forum near Kubinka (Picture source: Army Recognition)