The Russian Ground Forces are expected to receive up to 100 third-generation T-14 main battle tanks (MBT), by 2020, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov told reporters on August 24 while attending an event in Kubinka, home to the Russian military’s tank proving grounds and the country’s premier tank museum.
“The designed models are currently undergoing operation testing. We have a contract for 100 units that will be supplied before 2020,” the deputy minister said, according to TASS news agency. Borisov made the exact same remarks a year ago during the Army 2016 military and technology forum.“We have a contract for a pilot batch of more than 100 machines. They are already arriving for trials,” he said at the time.
The deputy defense minister’s announcement are a clear indication that the Russian Defense Ministry has at this stage abandoned any plans to try to induct 2,500 T-14s MBT by 2020. Borisov’s statement is also most likely meant to exert public pressure on the Russian defense industry to accelerate work on the new MBT. As I reported last month, there are signs that the Russian government is not happy with the progress of the T-14 program and the tank’s manufacture Uralvagonzavod (UVZ),Russia’s premier tank maker.
As I reported elsewhere, the defense ministry signed a contract with UVZ for the first batch of 100 T-14 MBTs in September 2016. In 2015, then UVZ CEO Oleg Sienko announced that the Rusian Ground Forces would receive 2,300 Armata tanks before 2020. This date was later pushed back to 2025. However, it is unlikely that Russia will have the resources to mass-produce the MBT in such large quantities by that time, as I explained elsewhere:
[T]his 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 [still] unclear whether the tank has already entered serial production.
Operational evaluation of the T-14 MBT is now set for 2019. The T-14 MBT is expected to 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 T-14, an armored vehicle based on the “Armata” universal chassis system, is one of the world’s first battle tanks to feature an unmanned turret. The MBT’s main weapon system is a 2A82 125-millimeter smoothbore cannon, capable of firing high-powered munitions (10 shots a minute at an effective range of up to 7 kilometers). The 125-millimeter variant may be replaced with a more powerful 152-millimeter cannon in later versions, although this would reduce the T-14s ammunition capacity and likely require a complete re-design of the platform.
The T-14 is first new MBT to be developed by Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union.