The Russian military has begun deploying T-14 Armata tanks in the ongoing “special military operation” in Ukraine, RIA Novosti reported, citing an informed source. These tanks are said to have been fitted with enhanced anti-tank ammunition protection.
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The report claimed that Russia’s most powerful tank, T-14, had been involved in combat with Ukrainian defensive positions in an unspecified area of the conflict zone but did not take part in direct attacks.
The Armata tanks deployed in Ukraine are equipped with extra protection on their flanks. Their operators have been undergoing training since late December at a military base in Ukraine’s Donbas region.
In January, British military intelligence alleged that Russian forces in Ukraine hesitated to receive the first batch of tanks due to their ‘poor state.’ The intelligence report also noted that any decision to deploy the T-14 tanks would probably be risky for Russia and mainly made for propaganda reasons.
The British intelligence stated that the production of T-14 tanks is likely limited to only a few units, and military leaders may not have complete confidence in its combat capabilities. Furthermore, the program faced significant issues during its years of development, including delays, downsizing of the planned fleet, and reports of manufacturing difficulties.
As per Russian media reports, the Kremlin had initially targeted producing 2,300 T-14 tanks by 2020, which was later extended to 2025. However, in December 2021, Interfax news agency reported that Rostec, the state conglomerate, had started manufacturing around 40 tanks, which are expected to be delivered after 2023.
The development of the T-14 tank has reportedly been marred by several technical difficulties, which have been frequently reported. Russia has recently begun upgrading the armor of its combat tanks in response to the significant tank losses in Ukraine.
The latest report highlights that the tanks are now outfitted with extra protection, indicating that Moscow is concerned about the likelihood of losing its advanced tanks. Yet, the upgraded T-14 tanks are not being used in direct combat situations in Ukraine, a trend observed with Russia’s most advanced fighter jet, the Su-57.
UK defense ministry previously claimed that Russia had utilized its Su-57 ‘Felon’ fighter jet in operations against Ukraine. However, to prevent the potential loss of this stealth combat aircraft, Russia is likely conducting these operations within its own borders rather than crossing into Ukrainian airspace.
This suggests that Russia is prioritizing the protection of its most sophisticated military assets, opting to use them in strategic and tactical roles rather than risking their loss in direct combat.
Advantages Of T-14 Tank Over Western Tanks
The T-14 Armata is equipped with numerous advanced features, positioning it as Russia’s answer to the American M1A3 Abrams, the British Challenger 2, and Germany’s Leopard 2 tank.
As noted in the RIA report, the tank is outfitted with a remote-controlled turret, allowing for improved crew accuracy and safety. It also has enhanced protection measures for the crew, including composite ceramic-and-steel layered armor and explosive reactive armor blocks to counter incoming threats.
Additionally, the T-14 Armata features a sensor-activated defense system that can detect and launch interceptor charges to neutralize missiles and anti-tank shells, further increasing its effectiveness on the battlefield.
According to a military official from Russia, the design and cross-country capabilities of the T-14 Armata tank provide it with a distinct advantage over both the Abrams and Leopard tanks.
In an interview with NEWS.ru, Major General Sergey Lipova, also known as Hero of Russia, said the Russian T-14 tank has several advantages over the Western Abrams, Leopard, and Challenger tanks.
These advantages come from the unique design of the T-14, which offers greater protection to the crew against incoming shells. The T-14 also has superior cross-country capabilities compared to the other tanks, noted Lipova.
Lipova explained that the T-14 tank is designed differently from foreign tanks regarding crew placement. While the crew in foreign tanks is evenly placed inside the hull, the T-14 has its crew housed in separate armored capsules.
This unique design feature increases the crew’s survivability in case anti-tank weapons hit the tank. He also said the T-14 tank was sent to Ukraine for testing in actual combat conditions.
Lipova also pointed out another advantage of the T-14 tank over Western combat vehicles. He mentioned that the Russian tank is lighter, enhancing its maneuverability on the battlefield, particularly in swampy areas.