The Russian Ground Forces (RGF) will receive their first batch of 12 serial-produced third-generation T-14 main battle tanks (MBT) and four T-16 armored recovery vehicles, also known as Armata ARV or BREM-T, by the end of the year for user trials, according to Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) sources quoted in Russian media reports.
This is in line with a statement issued by the Russian MoD at the beginning of 2019: “The T-14 tank, which has been created on the universal Armata platform and developed for the Ground Forces, is completing the manufacturer’s trials. The fighting vehicle in 2019 will start undergoing state trials in the Russian Defense Ministry’s scientific and research institutions.”
The T-14s and T-16s — both based on the Armata universal chassis system — will reportedly participate in this year’s Victory Day parade in Moscow on May 9, after which they will be dispersed among different RGF units across the country to operate in different climate conditions.
The MoD stipulates that all tanks and armored vehicles must be able to operate in weather conditions ranging from -50 to +50 degree Celsius. The T-14 has so far been tested under Arctic and desert conditions, according to military sources.
About 16-20 T-14s prototypes have undergone testing with the RGF to date, defense ministry sources say. Izvestiva newspaper reports that the serial-produced T-14s and T-16s will contain upgraded and new systems without specifying details. Russian military observers say that the new T-14s will likely feature an improved engine, an upgraded transmission system, and a retrofitted targeting system.
New or modified tank ammunition could also be developed for the first serial-produced T-14 batch. For the time being, the tank’s main weapon system remains the auto-loading A82 125-millimeter smoothbore cannon. The 125-millimeter variant may be replaced with a more powerful 152 mm cannon in later versions, although this would reduce the T-14s ammunition capacity and likely require a complete re-design of the platform.
The Russian MoD concluded a contract with Russia’s main tank manufacturer Uralvagonzavod (UVZ) for the production of 132 T-14 Armata MBTs, T-15 heavy infantry fighting vehicles (IFV), and T-16 tank recovery vehicles in February 2018. According to the MoD, the RGF will receive around 100 T-14 MBTs by 2020. Notably, UVZ will not mass produce the T-14. Rather, the Russian tank makers will retrofit and upgrade Soviet-era models, including the T-72 and T-90 MBTs.
The first batch of serial-produced T-14 MBTs will reportedly be operationally deployed with the 1st Guards Tank Regiment of 2nd Guards Tamanskaya Motor Rifle Division, garrisoned in Moscow and part of Russia’s Western Military District. Russia has recently made concerted efforts to increase the combat readiness of its military forces stationed in the Western parts of the country.