The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) placed an order for two battalions of the third-generation T-14 Armata main battle tank (MBT) and one battalion of the T-15 heavy infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) in December 2017, according to Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov. Both the T-14 MBT and T-15 IFV are based on the “Armata” universal chassis system, which serves a platform for as many as 13 different tracked vehicles, including a self-propelled artillery platform, and an armored military engineering vehicle.
“It’s no secret that we already have a contract for trials and combat operations: two battalions of Armata tanks and one battalion of heavy infantry fighting vehicles,” Borisov said on February 9, as quoted by Jane’s Defense Weekly. A Russian tank battalion consists of around 40 main battle tanks, excluding support vehicles.
Furthermore, last month Borisov noted: “In accordance with the 2018-2027 State Armaments Program, the serial production of the T-14 tanks based on the Armata platform is planned to begin in 2020; hundreds of tanks will be made.”
The Russian Ground Forces are slated to receive a total of 100 T-14 MBTs by 2020.
As I reported last month:
The Russian MoD concluded a contract with Uralvagonzavod (UVZ), Russia’s premier tank maker, for the first batch of 100 T-14 MBTs in September 2016. Originally, the MoD spoke of inducting over 2,300 new T-14 MBTs into service by 2020, a date that was later pushed back to 2025.
Yet, 2,300 T-14s are likely “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,” I noted elsewhere.
There are currently around 20 T-14s prototypes with the Russian Ground Forces undergoing testing. More prototypes are expected to be delivered this year, although the exact number is unknown. Final operational evaluation for the T-14 has been set for 2019.
The first T-14 tanks are 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 (…) is one of the world’s first battle tanks to feature an unmanned turret,” I explained in August 2017. “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-15 is equipped with a KBP Instrument Design Bureau Epoch Almaty remote control turret armed with a 30 mm 2A42 cannon, 7.62 mm coaxial MG, as well as a bank of two Kornet-EM anti-tank guided weapons systems on either side. IFVs are designed to be more mobile than MBTs and carry mechanized infantry used to protect the latter, especially in an urban combat environment.