The Russian Ground Forces are slated to induct the first batch of third-generation T-14 main battle tanks (MBT), an armored vehicle based on the “Armata” universal chassis system, in 2020, according to Russian media reports.
Izvestiya newspaper reported on May 12 that the T-14 MBT will enter initial operational service with the 1st Guards Tank Regiment of 2nd Guards Tamanskaya Motor Rifle Division, garrisoned in Moscow and part of Russia’s Western Military District.
The regiment currently operates an upgraded version of the Soviet-era T-72 MBT, the T-72B3. The Russian Ground Forces’ approximate 300 T-72B3s are at the moment being upgraded with a new automatic target tracker and fire control computer also found on the T-14MBT.
The T-14 is Russia’s first MBT developed after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
“The tank is reportedly fitted with a new active protection system including a new generation of explosive reactive armor allegedly capable of fending off the world’s most advanced anti-tank gun shells and anti-tank missiles,” I explained previously.
“The tank’s main weapon is the 2A82 125-millimeter smoothbore cannon, capable of firing high-powered munitions (10 shots a minute at an effective range of up to 7 kilometers), which will be replaced with a more powerful 152 mm cannon in later versions.”
While Russia promotes the T-14 as one of the world’s most advanced MBTs, some Western analysts remain skeptical about the tanks genuine combat capabilities. One thing, however, is certain, the T-14 delineates a clear break from previous Russian tank designs by for example placing a premium on crew survivability and featuring an unnamed turret.
The new design philosophy is expected to be applied to most new vehicles of the Russian Ground Forces.
“The Armata universal chassis system is a platform for over a dozen different tracked vehicles, including a self-propelled artillery gun, an armored military engineering vehicle, and an armored personal carrier,” I explained previously. “70 percent of tracked armored vehicles of the Russian Ground Forces are slated to be replaced by vehicles based on the Armata universal chassis system.”
In 2016, Russia Ministry of Defense ordered a first batch of 100 T-14s and purportedly intends to procure up to 2,300 T-14s by 2025. It appears, however, that this is far beyond the financial and production capacity of Russia. According to some estimates, Russia is only capable of building 120 new T-14s per year from 2018. There are currently around 20 T-14s prototypes operating with the Russian Ground Forces. It is unclear whether the tank has already entered serial production.
The 1st Guards Tank Regiment is one of the most highly decorated units in the Russian military. The elite formation fought in all major engagement on the Eastern Front during the Second World War including in the Battle for Moscow, the Battle of Kursk, and the Battle of Berlin.
The tank regiment also fought in the Soviet War in Afghanistan, the Chechen wars, and the South Ossetia War. Soldiers of the regiment along with other members of the 2nd Guards Tamanskaya Motor Rifle Division are purportedly currently also serving in Syria.
There is no indication that the T-14 has so far been deployed to Ukraine or Syria.