Can the T-14 Armata Main Battle Tank Possibly Match Its Hype?

by Sébastien Roblin. He holds a Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States.

Few tanks have received as much attention in peacetime as the T-14 Armata. Russian state media has published hundreds of articles in its praise. Western media has reciprocated with pieces depicting the Armata as heralding the end of NATO’s military superiority. And of course there have also been many pieces, such as this article on offiziere.ch by my colleague Joseph Trevithick, doubting that the Armata is nearly as good as Russia Today promises, and more pointedly, that Moscow can afford to produce more than a handful of them in the near term.

The T-14 Armata seen at the rehearsal for the 2016 Victory Parade in Alabino near Moscow on April 11, 2016 (Photo: Vitaly Kuzmin, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License).

The T-14 Armata seen at the rehearsal for the 2016 Victory Parade in Alabino near Moscow on April 11, 2016 (Photo: Vitaly Kuzmin, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License).

There is undoubtedly much hype and propaganda surrounding the Armata, and early claims about the T-14’s armament and engine have been demonstrably scaled back with time. On the other hand, even stripped of hyperbole, the T-14 exhibits intriguing innovations and evolutions in tank design.

This article reviews the claims that have been made about the T-14 and its various systems, considers what these claims imply and, where evidence is available, whether the claims stand up to scrutiny. The reader should keep in mind that in regards to certain issues, such as the configuration of the T-14 armor, it is only possible to speculate. In other cases, the officially available data may be open to question. The author invites the reader to interpret the same set of data to their own satisfaction, and to offer their own insight on any data that has been overlooked or not given the consideration it is due.

How much do the world's tanks cost?

How much do the world’s tanks cost?

Production
Perhaps the first relevant question one should ask is whether the T-14 will actually be produced in numbers sufficient to enhance the effectiveness of the Russian Army. Russia currently has an order for more than 100 T-14 tanks, sufficient to equip several battalions. Thus the T-14 appears to be far more tangible than other much boasted about defense projects such as the PAK-FA stealth fighter or S-500 SAM system that seem unlikely to materialize in operational units in fully capable form before the end of the decade, despite claims in the media to the contrary.

Nonetheless, the Russian military was not pleased by the price tag of the T-14. Russia Insider claims the T-14 prototypes cost $6.5 million each, and that price will fall to $3.7 each once mass production begins. More recent publications claim costs ranging between $4 and 5 million.

Another consideration is that the Armata chassis is also being used for the T-15 heavy IFV (for which no production orders are extant so far), the T-16 armored recovery vehicle, and also a tank destroyer variant using the 152-millimeter gun from the Koalitsya self-propelled artillery system. Some claim the figure of more than 100 Armatas actually includes these other vehicles, and a second “true” production run of 70 Armatas is due in 2019.

Revealed in Uralvagonzavod's corporate calendar for 2016.

Revealed in Uralvagonzavod’s corporate calendar for 2016.

Moscow has “confirmed” it will produce 2,300 T-14s by 2020 (now 2025). However, a British intelligence report estimates that only 120 T-14s will be produced annually. Thus, some argue that even if the T-14 is every bit the wunder tank it is claimed to be, Russia cannot afford many of them any time soon.

In January, the Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu has announced its interest in upgrading its fleet of 400 T-90A tanks to the T-90M. This is thought to use technologies adapted from the T-14, including the Afghanit active protection system, Malachite reactive armor, and, for certain, the 2A82 main gun. This would be a substantial upgrade for the T-90A, though as usual, the extent of implementation will matter.

Offensive Capabilities

Main Gun
For nearly three decades, several generations of Russian tanks relied on the 2A46 125 millimeter gun — a weapon which famously failed to penetrate the M1 Abrams tank during the 1991 Gulf War. Since other top-of-the-line Western main battle tanks boasted similar levels of protection, this was a rather serious shortcoming. However, the Iraqi tanks lacked the more advanced ammunition developed for the 2A46 gun, which theoretically could have pierced the Abram’s frontal armor at shorter combat ranges.

The T-14 finally has a new gun — not a 152 millimeter 2A83 gun as was long rumored, but a longer-barrel 2A82-1M 125 millimeter gun (56 calibers in length verses 51 calibers on the 2A46M1). Russia claims the 2A82 generates 17% more muzzle energy than the 120 millimeter L/55 gun on later Leopard 2 tanks.

The T-14’s unmanned turret has the space for a larger carousel autoloader which can fire ten rounds per minute of single-piece ammunition and can use longer penetrator rods. Russia claims the 2A82 can pierce the equivalent of one meter of Rolled Homogenous Armor (RHA) at 2 kilometers using its new Vacuum-1 APFSDS round, which has a 0.9 meter long penetrator. If this claim is accurate, this would pose a real threat to top Western main battle tanks even at medium combat ranges. However, the round would also need to be produced and deployed in sufficient quantities, which has not always been the case for advanced Russian munitions. Russian media also claims the T-14 can fire a new “remotely detonated” Telnik high explosive shell, which presumably may be similar to the programmable air-burst shells coming into service on tanks like the Leclerc and M1A2 SEP V3 tank.

Russian defense official still maintain they will upgrade the T-14 with a 2A83 152 millimeter main gun in the future, but most observers believe this is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Assertions that a tank-mounted 152 millimeter gun was just around the corner date back to the 1990s.

Unlike most Western tanks — bar the Merkava — the T-14 can fire anti-tank missiles from its main gun. This is an ability that Russian tanks have boasted since the T-64A. In theory, tank-launched missiles may be superior to shells at extremely long engagement ranges, or possibly for attacking helicopters. However, tank-launched missiles have seen little use in combat. The Armata uses a new SACLOS missile called the 3UBK21 Sprinter, with a range of 8 kilometers and an anti-helicopter mode — though the 7.5 kilometer range claimed for the Aramata’s laser targeter might shorten that range a bit.

 A Russian schematic of the new T-14 tank translated into English by a U.S. Army analyst. Illustration via the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office’s OEWatch 5, Issue 3, March 2015, p. 52.

 A Russian schematic of the new T-14 tank translated into English by a U.S. Army analyst. Illustration via the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office’s OEWatch 5, Issue 3, March 2015, p. 52.

 
Sights and Sensors
Of course, major factors of offensive capability are detection and fire control — in other words, which tank will detect its adversary first and actually land a hit. The T-14 reportedly has sights with 4x and 12x optical zoom. Its sensors are also said to be capable of detecting tank-sized targets to a range of 7.5 kilometers during the day, or 3.5 at night. The commander’s sight is mounted on top of the turret and can rotate 360 degrees; the gunner has a sight slaved to the turret, and also has its own periscope. Both sights have thermographic and electromagnetic channels, as well as laser rangefinders. The driver has his own forward-looking infrared sensor. There are also many video cameras giving a 360 degree view around the tank, as the crew otherwise would have little ability to see outside.

Western tanks have generally been seen as having superior sights, sensors and ballistic computers compared to Russian designs. For example, an M1A2 sight is capable of 50X magnification. Russian thermal imagers are also believed to have lower resolution. The T-90A tanks uses French Thales Catherine sights, and there is evidence that the T-14’s sensors may rely on imported or smuggled Chinese or Western components for thermal imagers.

Secondary Armament
Through early 2015, it was widely reported that the T-14 would boast a 30 millimeter auto cannon as a secondary armament for engaging infantry, helicopters and incoming missiles. This would have been another radical design feature, as very few modern tanks boast a secondary weapon heavier than a heavy machine gun. However, the T-14 unveiled at the May Day parade had no such weapon. Apparently, the main secondary armament is to be a remotely-operated 12.7 millimeter Kord machinegun mounted above the commander’s sight. Remote weapons have become standard equipment for tanks in urban combat zones, and their inclusion on the T-14 makes a lot of sense. It has also been claimed that this machine gun could automatically controlled by the T-14’s radar to serve as a back-up hard-kill active protection system. Russian officials maintain the 30 millimeter cannon may show up in future versions of the T-14. There is also a co-axial PKTM machinegun in the turret, but no hull-mounted machinegun.

The T-14 tank mounts two active protection assemblies on both sides of the turret. Covered by passive armor for ballistic protection, these modules integrate the Afghanit sensor (trapezoidal unit), five hard-kill launch tubes mounted at the turret’s base, two peripheral cameras and flat (possibly covered) sensor, likely radar coupled with the soft-kill system. Some sources indicate these sensors are derived from AESA radar technology developed and implemented on the Sukhoi T-50 stealth fighter jet. The rotatable soft-kill launcher containing 12 cartridges can be seen above, mounted on a rotating pedestal. (Source: Tamir Eshel, "New Russian Armor – First analysis: Armata", Defense Update, 09.05.2015).

The T-14 tank mounts two active protection assemblies on both sides of the turret. Covered by passive armor for ballistic protection, these modules integrate the Afghanit sensor (trapezoidal unit), five hard-kill launch tubes mounted at the turret’s base, two peripheral cameras and flat (possibly covered) sensor, likely radar coupled with the soft-kill system. Some sources indicate these sensors are derived from AESA radar technology developed and implemented on the Sukhoi T-50 stealth fighter jet. The rotatable soft-kill launcher containing 12 cartridges can be seen above, mounted on a rotating pedestal. (Source: Tamir Eshel, “New Russian Armor – First analysis: Armata“, Defense Update, 09.05.2015).

 
Defense

Crew Survivability
The T-14 is renowned for its unmanned turret. The crew of three — a commander, gunner, and driver — instead reside in an armored pod in the front hull. The Armata’s main gun ammunition is stowed separately from the crew in the turret. This means that penetrating hits to the turret are very unlikely to kill crew, which could be especially advantageous when a T-14 is in hull-down position, with just the turret exposed over the crest of a hill. On the other hand, at 3.3 meters tall, the T-14 has a profile nearly a full meter taller than an M1A2 Abrams. One disadvantage of this layout is that the crew will be especially dependent on the Armata’s many external cameras to gain a better view of the battlefield. It should also be noted that there is very little machinery standing in between the crew and any shells or missiles that penetrate the front hull.

Afghanit Active Protection System
Undoubtedly the most ambitious development in the Armata is its Afghanit Active Protection System, which includes both soft-kill measures (seeking to confuse or misguide approaching missiles) and a hard-kill system (attempting to physically destroy them).

The soft-kill component consists of four smoke grenade dischargers on the turret top, each with twelve grenades. These serve not only to visually obscure the tank, but release multi-spectral aerosol clouds that may mask the vehicle’s infrared signature and block targeting lasers and radars. Two of the launchers have a vertical orientation, allowing them to counter top-attack missiles. In theory, the soft-kill measures might help ward against deadly infrared guided Javelin or laser-guided Kornet missiles. However, some sources argue that modern IR sensors are sufficiently powerful not to be confused by such a cloud.

The Afghanit’s hard-kill component consists of five tubes carrying interceptor charges nestled under each side of the turret. The T-14’s has a millimeter-wave length AESA radar system, believed to be adapted from the one used on the PAK-FA stealth fighter, that detects incoming projectiles and automatically turns the turret towards them so that the hard kill tubes can shoot the threat down. This has the added benefit of presenting the thicker front turret armor towards the projectile. The radar may also be able to provide targeting data on the firing platform.

Afghanit Active Protection System (Hard Kill).

Afghanit Active Protection System (Hard Kill).

Given the combat-proven effectiveness of the Israeli Trophy hard-kill active protection system, as well as Russia’s long history developing and fielding active protection systems, the Afghanit system may be effective in swatting down rocket propelled grenades and most low-flying anti-tank guided missiles. However, the hard-kill interceptors’ horizontal orientation means they are incapable of stopping top-attack missiles.

The publication Izvetsia also claims the Afghanit will work against kinetic anti-tank shells ie. the armor-piercing main gun rounds of an opposing tank, at speed of up to 1,700 meters a second — a claim most Western analysts are skeptical of. Consider, first of all, that a tank shell is smaller and travels many times faster than an anti-tank missile, making it harder to detect, giving the active protection system less time to react, and presenting a much harder target to intercept. However, in the event the Afghanit manages to hit an incoming shell, physics still presents a problem: the vast kinetic energy of a tank shell cannot be negated by the Afghanit’s smaller, low-velocity projectiles. That is to say, even if hit by an Afghanit interceptor round, a tank shell would possess sufficient force to continue towards its target. However, an intercepted shell may be deflected off course, and its penetration could be degraded by a few hundred millimeters, giving the tank’s armor a better chance of resisting. Thus, it seems that if the Afghanit is capable of contributing at all to defense against its kinetic shells, it may do so at the margins.

Malachit Reactive Armor
The Armata also boasts the new Malachit explosive reactive armor (ERA), thought to be an evolution of the earlier Relikt ERA. Reactive armor involves an array of explosive bricks set on the hull of a tank that blast outward to disrupt and deflect incoming shaped charge warheads. Traditional ERA is useful against missiles, rockets and HEAT shells, which project a jet of molten metal into the target when impacted. However, traditional ERA is largely ineffective against kinetic shells. Relikt and now Malachit use a radar system to detect incoming shells and detonate the reactive armor before the moment of impact. Relikt also differs from earlier forms of ERA by using small explosives between reactive armor plates that feed the metal plates laterally into the path of a projectile, causing the penetration rods of sabot shells to warp and possibly shatter. Thus, Russia claims that Relikt and its successor Malachit are both effective at degrading kinetic tank shells. Relikt is also a dual-layer ERA intended to counteract tandem charge warheads. Details of how Malachit differs from Relikt are scant. The U.S. Army developed the new M829A4 120 millimeter sabot shell as means to counteract Relikt ERA, so perhaps the new reactive armor may be designed to counter the latest American shell.

Armor
The Armata has a composite armor made of ceramic and a a new steel alloy made through electroslag melting which Russian designers maintain enables better performance for the same weight. The T-14 also has slat armor on the rear hull sides to protect the vulnerable engine compartment and air intakes against rocket propelled grenades. Russian media claims the T-14 has a maximum protection equivalent to 1.1 to 1.3 meters of Rolled Homogenous Armor verses HEAT munitions. This would suffice to block many older anti-tank missiles such as the TOW, which can penetrate a maximum of 900 millimeters. Against armor piercing rounds, the T-14’s armor supposedly is equivalent to 1 meter RHA.

Some observers, however, feel that the T-14’s weight and size don’t add up to such formidable levels of protection. The Armata weighs just 50 tons compared to the 72 ton M1A2, which in later iterations is estimated as having 0.95 meters of protection against kinetic rounds. Proponents of the T-14 maintain this is simply because the Armata has a smaller volume to protect. But while the Armata’s smaller turret could account for some of the difference, it is taller and actually has a longer hull than the M1A2 at 8.5 meters compared to 7.9 meters. The use of extremely expensive metals also seems unlikely given the T-14’s projected cost. For this reason, many Western observers believe the Armata remains overall less well armored than an M1.

One common theory is that the T-14’s turret is lightly armored — perhaps just enough to protect against the automatic cannons common on infantry fighting vehicles — while heavy armor protection is reserved for the manned front hull. This might reconcile the high claimed maximum armor value for a vehicle that weighs significantly less than its Western counterparts, and may rely on its reactive armor and active protection system to protect against missile and rocket threats from the sides and rear.

Other Defensive Systems
The T-14 has four turret-mounted Laser Warning Receivers. These would alert the crew if they are being painted by the laser targeted of an enemy tank or missile system, giving the T-14 crew a chance to orient the turret towards the adversary and back the vehicle out of danger. It is also said to have a magnetic-countermeasure system on the rear hull intended to disrupt electronics on remotely-detonated IEDs or possibly even incoming missiles. The Moscow Times also claims the T-14 will be coated with radar absorbent paint and that its heat-emitting components have been recessed within the vehicle to lower its infrared signature, making the T-14 a “stealth tank”. However, analysts are skeptical that the T-14’s engine can be significantly hidden from modern IR sensors, or that anti-radar paint can have a significant effect on detection when not combined with other measures to reduce radar cross section

As one can see, the Armata’s multi-layered defensive system could be particularly effective against direct fire missiles.

As one can see, the Armata’s multi-layered defensive system could be particularly effective against direct fire missiles.

 
Mobility
Initial widely publicized claims of a 1,500 horsepower turbocharged diesel engine for the Armata have been downgraded to a 1,350 horsepower engine. Other sources state the engine is governed to 1,200 horsepower. Armata designers insist they will eventually field a model with a fully-powered 1,500 horsepower engine.

Due to the T-14’s comparatively low weight, it can still attain a maximum road speed of 50 mph (80 km/h) or more — 5 mph (8 km/h) faster than even a Leopard 2 or Leclerc, and 35% faster than a Challenger 2 or a T-90. The T-14 reportedly has an automatic gear box suspension, allowing it to move in reverse as quickly as forward. Reports that the T-14 has hydrostatic transmission, by contrast, are likely inaccurate due to the expense of such a system.

The Armata is claimed to have an operational range of 310 miles (500 km), putting it in between the T-72 and T-90. Of course, Russia will have to hope that the T-14 demonstrates greater reliability than the vehicle that stopped up on the 2015 Victory Day parade rehearsal. The official explanation: an inadequately trained driver didn’t realize he had the parking brake on. Towards that end, the Armata will also come with its own automated diagnostic system, another feature that has come into fashion on Western battle tanks.

Further Development
Pravda claims that the Armata will come with its own dedicated Pterodactyl lightweight drones tethered by a power cable to the vehicles, which will fly dozens of meters high to aid in spotting adversaries.

Russian media also touts the future deployment of entirely remote-controlled Armatas. This seems plausible in the sense that the crew already relies on externally mounted cameras to look upon the world, the Armata’s main and secondary weapon are remotely controlled, and the main gun uses as an autoloader. Thus, the crew of remotely-operated Armata could use the same controls to operate an Armata from a place of safety, allowing the Russian military to field battle tanks without putting their crews at risk. However, though robot tanks may lie in the future, Moscow has yet to present a prototype. There are also practical considerations. Maintaining datalinks in battlefield conditions secured from hacking, jamming and other natural or artificial sources of interference would be of vital importance for a remote tank, and represent a new electronic Achilles Heel for adversaries to exploit.

 
Conclusion
Obviously, there’s considerable uncertainty given the information available on the T-14. This is what the currently available evidence suggests to the author:

  • The 2A82 cannon may be effective against current Western tanks at medium combat ranges — if the new ammunition is as effective as claimed, and is actually produced in quantity.
  • The T-14’s sensors and fire control systems are likely inferior to modernized Western counterparts, given the information available.
  • The T-14’s multi-layered Active Protection Systems and Explosive Reactive armor will likely give it good protection against direct-fire anti-tank missiles and rocket propelled grenades. However, top-attack munitions will only face the soft-kill countermeasures of the Afghanit system.
  • The usefulness of the Afghanit system against kinetic armor piercing rounds is in doubt. The effectiveness of the Malachit ERA against armor-piercing sabots is an unknown quantity, though Relikt ERA appears to have inspired the United States to develop a new armor piercing round.
  • The Armata’s significantly lower weight implies less conventional armor than on the M1 Abrams or Leopard 2. It is possible that the armor may be concentrated on the crew compartment.
  • The Armata will have greater crew survivability than earlier Russian tanks.
  • The T-14 is faster than modern Western tanks.
  • For the time being, Russia is unable to afford large-volume production of the T-14. Thus, the Russian army will field mostly T-72s into the 2020s.

About Sébastien Roblin

Sebastien Roblin holds a Master's Degree in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States.
This entry was posted in Armed Forces, International, Sébastien Roblin, Technology.

4 Responses to Can the T-14 Armata Main Battle Tank Possibly Match Its Hype?

  1. Anthony Ronin says:

    Can the T-14 Armata main battle tank possibly match its hype? Certainly, if you look closer.

    Posted on: a day off work

    By Anthony Ronin. He holds a degree of conflict in finding a resolution from Western opinions on the T14 considering he himself is from the West. He has served as a firearms instructor for paintball during time in the United States, France, Germany and Austria. He has also worked in vain at times, editing, and refuting commentary from around the globe. He one day hopes his anonymous resume will give him credentials that will enforce his published opinions. Forgive his plagiarist paragraphing as he does not have the benefit of sub-linking or highlighting intended counter commentary.

    Few tanks have received as much attention in peacetime as the Armata T14. Russian state media has published numerous articles in its praise to help promote awareness of innovation and change after decades of unrelenting Western media rubbishing Soviet designs. Most has been based on unbalanced reporting of previous conflicts. Yet this time around Western media has reciprocated with pieces depicting the Armata as heralding the end of NATO’s military superiority in main battle tanks. Maybe the fact that several of those Western NATO countries are now making serious design changes or working on completely new platforms is a true indication the age old battle of “sword versus shield” is in full swing and no hyperbole. Then, of course there have also been other pieces of scribble, such as “Russia’s new tanks are pretty stale” by Joseph Trevithick that truly showed how unbalanced a publication could be by not sufficiently covering the 3 core values of a modern tank, firepower, protection and mobility. While current circumstances influence Moscow’s economic plans I will attempt to show that even if Russia can only afford to produce more than a battalion full of them in the near term what actual relevance this has to diminish its capability or innovation.

    While the author of this article has stated that early claims about the T-14’s armament and engine have been demonstrably scaled back with time there is also evidence to suggest just the opposite or at least an ongoing notable advantage over Western analogues. In the case of the 152mm 2A83 there has been articles claiming development of a nuclear shell, that’s right, nuclear shell. How this could be a scale down of a “claim” is beyond most readers and myself included, let’s just hope it’s never implemented. As for the engine, it has been clearly written in many articles from the start there is a veritable range of horsepower settings to achieve either longevity or outright performance, the scales begin from 1200hp to a potential as high as 2000hp, most except 1500hp yet a claim of 1350hp would be within the realms of its specification. Power-to-weight ratio even at 1350hp would be around 28hp per ton, in comparison to the Abrams at 24per ton, this still equals close to 20% advantage.

    PRODUCTION:
    Russian Army currently has ordered 100 T14 tanks, sufficient to equip several battalions, true. Perhaps the first relevant statistic one should look at is whether the T-14’s effectiveness for the Russian Army is comparable to other taunted highest level MBTs.
    GERMANY: The only Leopard 2 series tank at the absolute elite level is the impressive 2A7 (+) of which the German Army ordered the first batch of 20 MBTs upgraded from existing elite Leopard 2A6 tanks. The first Leopard 2A7 tanks were delivered to the German Army in 2014. Recently it’s been published the tank fleet of Leopard 2’s will receive a sizable 40% increase to a grand total of “320” main battle tanks. The revamped Leopards will be made to 2A7 spec and will enter service between 2019 and 2023. Even going off a British intelligence report that estimates only 120 T14s will be produced annually we can hypothetically calculate between mid-2017 to mid-2023 a total of 720 Armata T14 tanks will be in service. This equals close to 125% advantage of numbers. In fact ask yourself what percentage-numbers of Western tanks are at their nominated highest level, M1A2SEP/v3/V4, Leclerc and Challenger 2 for example.
    While this quick analysis does not count limited numbers earlier 2A4/5 models or the inventory of other neighbouring NATO forces nor do I include the constant ongoing modernizations of T72B3+B4 or T80BV/U-E1 or T90M series tanks, which grand total in substantial numbers. It is merely to show how some media portrays the Armata numbers as a failing. Nonetheless, there are have been published media reports from mid-2016 stating the cost of the Armata T14 could go as low as $3.1million per unit during full scale production, going off outdated early 2015 figures of “roughly $4-5 million” only a motley fool could ignore the massive price advantage over Western competitors.
    Worst case scenario: T14 $5million versus 2A7 $6.7million = 35% adv.
    Best case scenario: T14 $3.1million versus 2A7 $6.7million = 115% adv.
    Median case scenario: T14 $4.05million versus 2A7 $6.7million = 65% adv.

    Interestingly a recent publication in a touted pro U.S media outlet stated,
    [The Russian ruble hit an all-time low in early 2016 when oil prices fell to around $26 a barrel]
    [Oil prices are up to nearly $50 a barrel today and the ruble has found a second wind too, up 14% in the last 12 months]
    [In March (2017) the country bought $13.5 billion of US government bonds — better known as “Treasury securities.” Russia’s total holdings of US debt have now increased to nearly $100 billion, according to recently released Treasury Department data]
    [Russia is buying up more of America’s debt] (Google the 3 paragraphs if in doubt)

    $13.5billion is meniscal in comparison to America’s liable debt of $20trillion + non-liable unfunded debt of $100trillion. What it does tell you is that within a short period of 12months+ they had enough money to “theoretically buy” over 3300+ T14 units at a median price of $4million each, more than 1000 units than the total complete requirement. The true purpose of the money is being used to re-stock their reserve for “raining days”, in other words spare money. While some might say it’s still raining in Russia there is enough data to say their umbrella and projected forecasts will endure. I ask you is $120trillion debt a sunny day in America?

    [Sorry haters, Russia has survived sanctions. It survived $35 oil. And it survived two years of recession. Say what you will about Vladimir Putin, Russia’s economic management team has got its stuff together. And for that reason, BlackRock says Russia is a buy] (Google the paragraph if in doubt)

    [Even before the U.S. presidential election raised hopes of warmer ties with the Kremlin, some big Western companies were betting Russia’s economy will soon come out of the deep freeze. Big retailers like Sweden’s Ikea Group and France’s Leroy Merlin SA have begun pumping billions of dollars in new stores and factories, counting on Russia’s consumers to start emerging from hibernation after two years of recession] (Google the paragraph if in doubt)

    [Recent open source assessments suggest that Russia has made substantial progress towards the goals of its current State Armaments Programme, even if some delays and challenges have (inevitably) appeared in some specific areas. Overall, a large part of the programme is likely to be fulfilled by 2020, with some rescheduling of specific procurement objectives into the forthcoming new State Armaments Programme, which should span the period 2017-2025. In any case, the analysis developed in this article suggests that Russia’s economic challenges are insufficiently severe to force any significant slowdown or curtailment of the nation’s current military modernisation effort] (Google the paragraph if in doubt)

    Now something from the past that effects today

    [Despite the collapse of the USSR, the Russian Tank industry has managed to maintain itself and its expertise in armour production, resulting in modern designs (such as the T-90, the T-95 and mysterious Black Eagle) to replace the, surprisingly, still effective Soviet era tanks] ((Google the paragraph if in doubt)

    OFFENSIVE CAPABILITIES
    MAIN GUN:
    For nearly three decades, several generations of Russian tanks relied on the 2A46 125mm gun. A weapon which famously dominated the respected British Chieftain, American M60, and even controversially, Merkava Mk1. Yet despite the unmentioned fact it was the first 72 series export model it still failed to penetrate the DU armor of the M1A1 Abrams with its infamous “training rounds” supplied via the Soviet Union prior to the 1991 Gulf War. Since other top-of-the-line Western main battle tanks boasted similar levels of protection to the then homeland T72A1 + T72B1 fitted with Kontact-1 heavy ERA and not the lesser exported T72M this was a rather obvious outcome, don’t judge a book by its cover.

    The T-14 has a new 125mm gun, 2A82-1M and is reported to be 600mm shorter than the barrel of Leopard 2’s L55. If this is correct it would give a calibre length of L48 which is similar to the early version 2A46 125mm gun. Russia claims the 2A82 generates 17% more muzzle energy than the 120mm L/55 gun. There are recently posted pictures online of overhead views with an Armata T14 and T90A side by side during parade and the barrel lengths (excluding unseen breach) are almost identical in length leading to my conclusion that the 2A82-1M is indeed shorter than the 6.6mtr L55, at least from the outside of turret.

    I would assume this is the correct method of measurement benchmarked against the L44-to-L55 where 1300mm was added to the “end” of the barrel while the geometry/design/breach remand the same. Russia claims the 2A82-1M ammunition can pierce the equivalent of 1000mm RHa @ 2km. Germany, 2011, published acknowledgement of ballistic tests for 2A46M5 125mm gun confirmed it to be equivalent to the L55 in performance and therefore this leaves little doubt the newer high-powered 2A82-1M claim to be viable. This, like the 2A46M5 pose a real threat to top Western main battle tanks even at medium combat ranges.

    Other claims by Russia they will upgrade the T-14 with a 2A83 152mm main gun in the future appear to have more validity with the previously mentioned development of a “nuclear shell” ammunition. The 152mm 2A83 was always touted from the beginning as a possibility. Assertions that a tank-mounted 152mm gun was just around the corner date back to the 1990s and correspond with 130mm/140mm counter claims from multiple Western countries. There is also information suggesting the Russians have decided to developed electrochemical version of the 2A82-1M as the Germans with their L55. Look out for “lefty” and “lefty-M”.

    Unlike most Western tanks — bar the Merkava + Leopard 2— the T-14 can fire anti-tank missiles from its main gun. Although tank-launched missiles have seen little use in combat we have witnessed the devastating effects of portable ATGMs on Abrams M1A2S /Leopard 2A4 during recent conflicts and are able to imagine the outcome should ever an engagement occur between two foes. Remembering that some of the portable ATGMs come from a common family related to the ATGMs fired from a tank gun. There is a particularly interesting online video showing a Saudi Abrams being struck from either turret or hull side by an ATGM. Regardless of whether it was or wasn’t shielded by DU armor (on the side??) the following internal detonations reveal catastrophic combustion not only from the touted turret bustle ammo storage but throughout the entire tank including the hull. Unknown to many novice there is 6 rounds held in storage within the hull below the turret. The Leopard holds 27 in its front-left-hull.

    Vaccum-1 (suck-one?)
    [The new ammunition for the 2A82 guns of the T-14 successfully passed state tests in 2013 and was accepted for supply. They began mass production, the first batch was taken by the representatives of the Ministry of defence in 2013 and sent to arsenals for the formation of regulatory reserves. By the time armament of the main tank of the “Armata” family will be created, both the normative ammunition stockpiles, and the current need for combat training is provided] (Google this paragraph in Russian if in doubt)

    SIGHTS and SENSORS:
    While larger numbers may seem impressive it should be noted in the fields of observation terminology can hold subtle differences.
    The phrase “optical zoom” is used to indicate the strength of a given lens and is the only phrase you should pay attention to when speaking of “zoom” capabilities.
    The lone phrase “magnification” can and could relate to the “digital zoom”, an additional magnification achieved through camera/sights internal cropping abilities, by way of software. It does not physically zoom any further – it merely enlarges a section of the image already set up. This is by no means to devalue the abilities of the “Abrams sight”, however it is to open the understanding of terminology and areas of possible confusion. Considering the basis of the Russian optics are French Thales it would seem unlikely the Russian’s acquired a system with over 4 times disparity of their known Western counterparts being viewed as, X50 vs X12 “magnification”.

    Regardless, in actual battle scenarios Russian/French optics are proving to be as good as their claims.

    [If the war in Eastern Ukraine were a real-world test, the Russian T-90 tank passed with flying colors. The tank had seen action in Dagestan and Syria, but has been particularly decisive in Ukraine. The Ukrainians, Karber said, “have not been able to record one single kill on a T-90. They have the new French optics on them. The Russians actually designed them to take advantage of low light, foggy, winter conditions] (Google the paragraph if in doubt)

    It addition to viewing cameras, forward-looking infrared sensors and thermographic/electromagnetic channels the T14 is backed up by conventional viewing channels should the electronic versions become incapacitated in reference to some articles alluding to the limited ability to see outside when compared to conventional analogues. Meaning, apart from a commander sticking his head outside the turret hatch there would be little difference as the conventional sighting aids cover the full spectrum required in the event of electronic failures.

    French Thales sights evolve to Russian made for T14

    [The source of the publication in the defense-industrial complex said that the sights of the prototypes of the experienced cars were French]

    [The import substitution in this area was entrusted to the Central Research Institute “Cyclone”, which specializes in the development and creation of modern optoelectronic systems and devices. In the published annual report of the enterprise for 2014 it is specified that the CSRI Cyclone is the only integrated developer and manufacturer of thermal imaging equipment in Russia: “Only microbolometric matrices of the required format are bought abroad. And further development and production are based on our own forces, “the document says]

    [The head of the institute, Alexander Borisov, said during the Defense Ministry’s quarterly single day of military production on Friday that the technology, mastered in Russia, became the fourth in the world after the US, France and China. According to him, the production of micro displays with a production volume of up to 10 thousand pieces per year has been created. “To ensure the practical implementation of the achieved results and the speedy introduction of new domestic developments in the field of thermal imaging into weapons, it is necessary to create a modern serial production of microbolometric matrices]

    [As for import substitution for armored vehicles, as early as September 2015, at the Russia Arms Expo RAE 2015, Deputy Defense Minister for Armament Yury Borisov reported that the agency was “in principle satisfied” with the dynamics of import substitution of its components, and “in certain areas” of the program, he noted even leads graphs] (Google the 4 paragraphs in Russian if in doubt)

    [The latest variants of the T-72 and T-90, as well as the T-14, are all equipped with the Kalina computerized fire control systems. However, only the T-14 has so far been fitted with the latest version of Russia’s most advanced fire control system] (google paragraph if in doubt)

    Ballistic computer FCS

    While there is little fully detailed current generational information available to the public it would be fair to say in the past Soviet systems lacked the sophistication of Western Analogues. However since the collapse of the Soviet Union and especially in the last 10 years there has been a notable change. For me the indications of change are from both online information and actual scenarios.

    Online publications

    Uralvagonzavod are the manufacturers of T90 tank including export sales. They have an online informative video on the capabilities of the latest generation T90 series. This video is basically a selling tool for the company, no different to any other arms manufacturer. Within the video are statistical claims and some are stated as world leading, especially the performance of 2A46M5 ballistic qualities that is controlled by the FCS (ballistic computer). Now, call those claims whatever but sooner or later a customer is going to ask for verification. Making a claim needs confidence in the product.

    Scenarios

    [2006 the Saudi army carried out desert trials on the tanks to test their capability under the scorching desert conditions in the Kingdom. In Saudi Arabia, according to Igor Karavayev, Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s (Minpromtorg) Defense-Industrial Complex Development Department, the T-90A was the only tank to destroy more than 60 percent of its targets after a road march. Karavayev continued: “The tests conducted in Saudi Arabia as part of an open tender fully and completely contradict the Glavkom’s [Ground Troops CINC, General-Colonel Aleksandr Postnikov’s] assertions” [that Russian arms aren’t up to snuff]. This T-90 modification supposedly had a new turret, a 1,000-hp engine, an improved thermal sight, new active defense measures, and a number of other improvements] (Google the paragraph if in doubt)

    [Well, what can a professional have been demonstrated at the T-90 tank show of one of the foreign delegations. Quite an experienced gunner, performing a shooting exercise, first hit the target guided by a rocket at a distance of 4 km, and then for 54 seconds at a speed of 25 km / h hit 7 real armored targets located at ranges of 1500-2500 m, and returning to the original position, handed the management of the fire the commander of the tank, which is dubbed the shooting mode “stern” tank shot 4 more goals. Shooting from a tank is always impressive with its power, especially it is spectacular and visually in mountainous conditions, where the targets are in the palm of your hand, and quite literally behind them there are 3 km of rocks, no more. However, when measuring range with a laser rangefinder, it appears that up to these rocks a minimum of 6-7 km, and to targets – at least 2.5 km. In such conditions, the trajectory of the projectiles’ flight is very clearly visible] (Google paragraph in Russian if in doubt)

    SECONDARY ARMAMENT:
    Through early 2015, it was reported the T-14 would be armed with a 30mm auto cannon as a secondary armament for engaging infantry, helicopters and incoming missiles. I personally was disappointed not to see this feature fitted to the “prototypes” on parade May 2015 regardless of their claimed efficiency it was more for the pure visual effect and awe. Possibility of a 12.7mm remotely operated MG has also been claimed, this machine gun could be automatically controlled by the T-14’s radar to serve as a back-up hard-kill active protection system, top attack defense would make this logical.

    PROTECTION
    CREW SURVIVABILITY:
    The T-14 has an unmanned turret. A manned turret with auto-loader saves between 10-15tons of equivalent conventional armor required to protect a manned crew. An unmanned turret with auto-loader could save an additional 5tons giving a potential weight saving of 15-20tons conservatively. Although the Armata turret does appear to have some degree of volume the reduced tonnage is probably closer to 15tons, more about this later. The thin passive armour shrouds covering the turret creates the deceiving appearance of actual turret size and shape.
    [Autoloaders are often implemented in an attempt to save on tank size. The T64 is an example of this. The current generation of tanks using autoloaders (Russian T90 and T14, Japanese Type 90 and Type 10, Chinese Type 98, Korea K2 Black Panther, French Leclerc, Pakistan Al-Khalid) all weigh between 45–55 tons. Tanks that do not use autoloaders tend to weigh in the 55–70 ton range (American M1A2, German Leopard 2, British Challenger 2)] (Google paragraph if in doubt)

    The crew of three — a commander, gunner, and driver — instead reside in an armored capsule in the front hull. Ammunition is stowed separately from the crew in a rotating carousel below the turret via a protective bulkhead. Meaning penetrating hits to the turret or carousel are very unlikely to kill due to total crew isolation. This is a significant innovation and feature for not only domestic Russian design but also Western.

    Curiously, the author chose to seemingly mislead readers by saying the height of 3.3 meters tall is a full meter taller than Abrams, yet in reality it was taken from the top of the remote weapon station and commanders viewing sight. At range this has a minimal square meterage surface value in comparison to a dedicated “turret height” surface value. The overall height from ground to turret top is around 2.6mtrs for the T14. It’s also worth mentioning the Abrams is listed as 2.4mtrs from ground to turret top but this increases to 2.88mtrs [113.60 MAX INCHES] counting the CITV sight assembly. Why was this not mentioned?
    3300mm – 2880mm = 420mm
    Difference between the two vehicles at maximum measurement is 420mm height x say 600mm wide = 0.25m2, that’s about the size of a large pizza box in difference and if that was the only exposed area at normal battle range it would certainly not result in a fatal ending for the T14.

    Noted in this article is the reference there is very little machinery standing in between the crew and any shells or missiles that penetrate the front hull, yet 1st, we must dismiss the APS system designed to stop such events happening, 2nd, you must have the ability to successfully defeat an armor value estimate of 1000mm+RHa, 3rd, the RHa protection values equals/exceeds Western analogues in frontal hull layout, 4th, if the author is alluding to the front engine Merkava it should be pointed out its lack of engine in the rear has be known to be catastrophic when struck from behind by armed insurgents bearing portable HEAT weapons (pre-Trophy APS)

    AFGHANIT ACTIVE PROTECTION SYSTEM (APS)
    Undoubtedly the most ambitious development of the Armata family in the view of the author. I must ask, is it because of the system being Russian or is it the shear disbelief of any APS capabilities. Especially concerning the defeat of Kinetic penetrators (K.E) or Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot rounds (APFSDS). Maybe it’s a combination of both. Russian APS systems have been developed over longer periods of time than in the West. Members of NATO, being the Germans and French have attended demonstrations of previous generation APS, Arena, over 20 years ago.

    [The Arena defense aid suite (DAS) was developed by Russia around 1993 and currently has no counterpart. The Russians have demonstrated the system to the Germans and French, and it is reported to have performed as advertised. The French were involved in further development of the system, as of 1997] (Google paragraph if in doubt, 1998 article)

    [The Russian APS systems introduced innovative and proven defeat mechanisms against CE and KE threats] (Google paragraph if in doubt, 2004 article)

    The Germans went on to develop their own APS systems and successful achieved similar results, a newer model is now in service.

    [AWiSS is designed to defeat RPGs and other Anti-Tank munitions fired from close range, as well as standoff AT missiles. It also offers significant reduction of a Kinetic Energy (KE) projectile’s penetration capability]

    [AWiSS defeated a MILAN ATGM in 2006 using an interceptor with HE-fragmentation warhead. The fragmentation warhead proved to be more effective in defeating rockets and missiles with shaped charge warheads, while the blast grenade performed superior against kinetic energy penetrators] (Google the 2 paragraphs if in doubt)

    Given the body of information published freely online by reputable Western sources it would be a fair assessment to say the Russian’s are more than competent in the field. Hopefully this may go some way to putting the authors lack of conviction at ease. Ironically the Western analysts who have been “sceptical” concerning the Afghanit’s ability vs K.E threats may not have realized in “principle” this had already been achieved in the West, or, is it denial of Russia’s own achievements in a propaganda smear?

    (From a Russia source, below)

    [System operates on the principle of a “shock core”. In principle, the impact core resembles a cumulative motley, but it does not form when the projectile strikes an obstacle, but is formed by the explosion of a metal-clad ammunition of a special shape. The thus obtained molten metal ball has the properties of a conventional kinetic armor-piercing projectile (such as a subcalibre, in the jargon – “scrap”, “pig”), accelerated to a speed of several thousand meters per second. In this case, the shape of the charge is selected so that after the shot the impact nucleus in flight is stretched, forms a head and a “skirt” -stabilizer in the rear part] (Google paragraph in Russian if in doubt)

    The Afghanit includes both soft-kill measures and a hard-kill system. The soft-kill measures are designed to increase successful diversion in warding off against deadly infrared guided Javelin or laser-guided Kornet missiles. While some might suggest modern IR sensors are sufficiently powerful not to be confused by such a cloud the IR sensors only needs to be partially inhibited to diminish a 100% guaranteed strike.

    [Masking agent named Mantiya has been specially developed for the T14]

    [As a result the vehicle stops being visible to weapons like the US military’s Javelin’s homing warheads that use thermal detection to hit targets] (Google the 2 paragraphs if in doubt)

    Combine the specialized multi-spectrum aerosols with the thermal reducing paint and the 1st stage of overhead defeat, in place.

    [“Afghani” the first time you plan to use protective ammunition warhead explosively formed penetrator type described in the Russian patent RU 2,263,268 . Launcher mast consists of rotating in the vertical and horizontal planes. Additional guidance shock kernel on the target by using a programmed initiation of detonators, arranged in a matrix on the rear side block explosive warhead] (google paragraph in Russian if in doubt)

    Hard-kill component consists of five tubes carrying interceptor charges nestled under each side of the turret and assisted by a millimetre-wave length AESA radar system. The hard-kill interceptors’ horizontal orientation appears to be incapable of stopping top-attack missiles at first sight however close detailed inspection of the tubes indicates the possibility of rotating adjustment, taking into account the outer passive turret armor appears removable. 2nd stage of overhead defeat a possibility, in place.

    MALACHIT REACTIVE ARMOR
    The new Malachit explosive reactive armor (ERA) is an evolution of the earlier Relikt ERA which itself was claimed to be greater than 50% more capable than Kontact-5. However the statement of traditional ERA is largely ineffective against kinetic shells is quite ironic considering for first official “sword vs shield” encounter from a domestic NATO 120mm sabot round ( a.k.a silver bullet M829A1) to a domestic Soviet ERA (Kontact-1) resulted in the below confirmation by U.S military’

    [The combined protection of the standard armour and the ERA gives the tanks a level of protection equal to our own. The myth of Soviet inferiority in this sector of arms production that has been perpetuated by the failure of downgraded T-72 export tanks in the Gulf Wars has, finally, been laid to rest. The results of these tests show that if a NATO/Warsaw Pact confrontation had erupted in Europe, the Soviets would have had parity (or perhaps even superiority) in armour” – U.S. Army Spokesperson at the show] (Google paragraph if in doubt)

    Relikt and now Malachit use a radar system to detect incoming shells and fire off up to several meters away intercepting the incoming round before the otherwise “moment of impact” upon the vehicle. Technical details of how Malachit differs from Relikt are like other critical components, still classified. The U.S. Army developed the new M829A4 as means to theoretically counteract Relikt ERA, so as theoretical “sword vs shield” claims are made the new reactive armor (shield) may theoretically be designed to counter the latest American shell (sword)

    ARMOR:
    The Armata T14 has a composite armor made of ceramic and a new steel alloy armour called 44S-SV-SH that does not lose its qualities and can be operated at Arctic temperatures. Made through electro-slag melting which Russian designers maintain enables better performance for the same weight by a margin of 15%. The T-14’s armor is rated equivalent to 1000mm RHa.
    Although some observers conclude the T-14’s weight and size don’t add up to such formidable levels of protection it only takes simple arithmetic to see where the numbers align.

    [The planned advantage of the new Armata tank is its lightweight armour. The developers managed to increase the hardness of steel while retaining its plasticity. This combination allows the reduction of the thickness of the armour plate by 15 percent without reducing its security features. It’s also planned to use the new material to upgrade existing military machines] (Google paragraph if in doubt)

    Meaning the “armor” is 15% lighter than equivalent Rolled Homogenous Armor (RHa). For example, if a tank is built using 44S-SV-SH to a nominated weight of 50tons there is an increased protection equivalence of 15%. To build the T14 out of conventional RHa and get the same level of protection it would weigh 15% heavier, get it?
    50tons + 15% = 57.5 tons T14 built from conventional RHa, base weight.
    Remembering T14 has a reduce turret weight of around 15 tons vs a conventional manned turret like Abrams. You can do this two ways to get a final number but I’ll choose to reduce 15tons off Abrams claimed combat weight of 72tons. Interestingly, the author only chose its maximum “combat” weight and compared it the base weight of T14, why?

    Abrams @ 72tons – 15tons = 57tons, combat weight (unmanned turret equivalent Abrams, just like the T14)
    The T14’s weight that is commonly quoted is the base weight which excludes its combat weight by 5-7 tons
    T14 @ 57.5tons + 5tons = 62.5tons, combat weight

    Results achieved using the minimum parity weights being 15tons for unmanned turret difference and 5tons for extra combat weight allows a conservative margin. For this reason, many Western observers who believe the Abrams has more armor protection values have missed the point. Weight alone doesn’t tell the full story.

    Depleted Uranium: The use of this component within the Abrams armor is also worth noting. By comparison to lead it is 68.4% denser, meaning it’s a heavier metal and would add several tons to the overall weight, versus using conventional RHa.

    Therefore, T14 achieves protection levels via lighter weight 44S-SV-SH/ERA/Composite armor and Abrams achieves protection levels via heavy weight DU/composite armor.

    OTHER DEFENSIVE SYSTEMS:
    Top Attack Munitions defence, noted on the graph provided [ERA doesn’t seem present on top of turret] then in reference to ERA on top-of-hull [No, but crew shielded by unmanned turret] even though they sit at least a full metre forward of the turret as previously stated by the author, [a commander, gunner, and driver — instead reside in an armored capsule in the front hull] (lol)

    Possibly the author used a posted graph from another source without checking the information claimed. Some Western media outlets tend to provide these types of graphs to demonstrate a comprehensive assessment on the topic at hand in the hope this will endorse their opinion. It’s all in their own national interest I’d say. Yet, one of the most important features has been overlooked by both the original producer of the graph and the author of this published article. And, here lies the 3rd stage of overhead defeat, in place.

    MALACHIT ERA is not typically attached or even shaped the same as previously familiar Kontact-5. If an overhead view is closely examined of the T15 heavy IFV you will see the same smooth fitting rectangular block patterns covering a high percentage of the skyward facing hull. Those rectangular block patterns are also present on the T14 hull and top-of-turret, try to find a high resolution image online. Because the MALACHIT ERA is activated via the AESA radar system, interception of top attack munitions is covered when the ERA is fired in advance of the incoming projectile and striking it dead several metres above. Smoke grenades, Mantiya thermal reducing paint and MALACHIT ERA ensure substantial protection from overhead threats, even if we exclude AESA assisted machine gun and rotating vertical plane launcher possibilities. Now, over to you Abrams?

    MOBILITY:
    Publicized claims of a 1,500 horsepower turbocharged diesel engine are still widely published.
    As previously mentioned the 1350hp rating falls within its specified range and still has a power-to-weight ratio greater than Abrams, Leopard and Challenger 2. Another observation is the author likely chose the information from state funded media outlet, Sputniknews, going by the sub-link. If I’m correct the article’s information was updated 20.4.2016, yet for the next 12 months its very easy to find 1500hp claims, so why did the author choose the 2016 article?

    [Armata’s operational engine has parameters of up to 1,800 horsepower, with the tank’s basic version equipped with a 1,500-horsepower engine] (Sputniknews 20 February 2017)

    [Armata’s operational engine has parameters of up to 1,800 horsepower, with the tank’s basic version equipped with a 1,500-horsepower engine.] (Sputniknews 7 February 2017)

    [Armata’s operational engine has parameters of up to 1,800 horsepower, with the tank’s basic version equipped with a 1,500-horsepower engine.] (Sputniknews 6 November 2017)

    [The Armata’s 12H360 power plant, designed by the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant, features a 12-cylinder multi-fuel turbocharged engine producing between 1,200 and 1,800 horsepower. The powertrain features a 16-gear automatic transmission. The engine’s design and placement makes it possible to switch out and replace a damaged engine in 30 minutes. The 1,200hp engine is designed for 10,000 hours of guaranteed operating life –that is, for the duration of the tank’s operation] (Sputniknews 5 September 2017)

    Suspension? Was it even covered?

    [The road wheels are reportedly based upon the T-80 tank and were used because they were significantly lighter than the T-72 wheels (120kg vs. 194 kg, resulting in an approximately one-ton savings in weight. The T-14 tank will be equipped with an adjustable suspension capable of adapting to varying relief, terrain type, and vehicle speed, resulting in increased speed while moving in columns, as well as over rugged terrain. The suspension system will also alleviate crew fatigue, while assisting the fire control system to deliver accurate fire while on the move] (Google paragraph if in doubt)

    The Armata is claimed to have an operational range of 310 miles (500 km), putting it in between the T72 and T90.

    (Of course, Russia will have to hope that the T-14 demonstrates greater reliability than the vehicle that stopped up on the 2015 Victory Day parade rehearsal?)

    Of course, America will have to hope that the RD180 rockets being purchased from Russia over the last decade or more demonstrate greater reliability than the previously supplied Lockheed Martin design that cost significantly more, yet produced lower outputs.

    Russian media also touts the future deployment of entirely remote-controlled Armata tank. This seems plausible in the sense that the crew already relies on externally mounted cameras to look upon the world, the Armata’s main and secondary weapon are remotely controlled, and the main gun uses as an autoloader. Thus, the crew of remotely-operated Armata could use the same controls to operate an Armata from a place of safety, allowing the Russian military to field battle tanks without putting their crews at risk. However, though robot tanks may lie in the future, Moscow has yet to present a prototype. There are also practical considerations. Maintaining datalinks in battlefield conditions secured from hacking, jamming and other natural or artificial sources of interference would be of vital importance for a remote tank.

    Speaking of new electronic Achilles Heel to exploit, there has been considerable online information to show it is not the Russians who should be concerned. Recent conflicts in Ukraine and Syria have shown electronic warfare is a forte of the Russian military. This has been confirmed at all military levels and is of great concern to NATO. This is not based on theory, Western militaries are facing a new generation of Russian EW equipment and the results are substantial.

    [The article states that sources close to frontline forces have revealed that two Tornado missions and one Typhoon mission was directly interfered with by Russian ground equipment which tried to jam the GPS guidance system fitted to the RAF’s Enhanced Paveway precision guided munitions (PGMs)] (Google paragraph if in doubt)

    [Russia maintains an ability to destroy command-and-control networks by jamming radio communications, radars and GPS signals, according to Laurie Buckhout, former chief of the US Army’s electronic warfare division] (Google paragraph if in doubt)

    [The former head of the US Army REW Lori Bakhut on this occasion said: “Our main problem is that we have not fought in conditions of jammed communications for several decades, so we have no idea how to act in such a situation. We have no strategy and algorithm of actions, we are absolutely not prepared to conduct combat operations in the absence of communication. US does not have such extensive capabilities or REW what Russia has. We have a very good radio intelligence, and we can conduct wiretapping round the clock, but when it comes to shutting down enemy hardware – our abilities are not even one tenth of what Russian army can do] (Google paragraph if in doubt)

    CONCLUSION:

    The sword versus shield battle is alive and well. Commitment confirms it with new counter platforms and armaments are underway. A new era in main battle tanks is born. For the sceptics I’ll use the last sentence to say my piece.
    The only thing constant is change, those who ignore change get left behind.

    (sorry if there are grammar errors, not enough coffee!)

  2. Anthony Ronin says:

    Ah the missing coffee!

    correction of dates below

    (Sputniknews 6 November 2016) not 2017!

    (Sputniknews 5 September 2016) not 2017!

    (Touted) not taunted!

  3. Robert says:

    Thank You Indeed Mr. Roblin.

    Probably I should just write a mixture of short remarks… Mostly positive remarks because Mr Roblin really deserved a strong good appreciation for his job.
    His text has touched general as well as a couple of more specific -ideas which have been haunting myself for some time and some of them will continue in the future.
    Mr. Roblin had navigated very close of a magnificent discovery using almost holistic approach (which in my opinion is the most prospective one) and then suddenly abandoned the course/opportunity. There are few “Ts” which had had to be crossed but unfortunately hadn’t been .
    Understandably, the very nature of subject is causing conditional approach. Either understandable is that the author try to keep an impartial balance. But on other hand the same conditionality demands to outline a few most essential bottom lines or focal points in order to avoid a random relativism. It would be done in very few additional sentences supported by links if necessary.
    Auxiliary, Mr. Roblin’s text recalled my memories with slightly sentimental charge.
    For these reasons above, I have written an essay-like piece instead of one-page-long compacted remarks.

    Pre-motivation
    Two years ago I had arranged series of meetings with my Old Mentor. The date day of the first one was 2 May 2015. Suddenly just before our meeting the Internet started boiling of photos made during the Moscow-victory-parade’s rehearsal. More precisely- of “veiled” latest military-hardware pieces. Then between the first and the second our conversation Russians “unveiled” them (3-4 of May). So this topic overwhelmed our talks despite they were planned for different subject. The original subject was Russia’s informal war on the West and its allies/wannabe allies which we have named War by Available Means (WAM)
    At that first day we were discussing “Russian novelties” instead of the planned topic and then over the course of few subsequent discussions (within 2015) where these novelties played some role in, we came to realisation that actually we didn’t abandon the original subject even for a short moment – that discussions series upon Russian novelties (including T14) was in fact mostly about a psy-ops being a dominating part of the WAM, yet.

    ***
    The thesis of my essay inter-actively reflects a paradigm chosen by Mr. Roblin for his writing and it is:
    The T14’s case is worth of diligent observation even after two years without considerable development of the thank (MBT) per se. Even despite the fact that that every piece of information (including photographs) is probable instrument of manipulation and everyone (except photographs) is a product of fabrication (doesn’t matter if this or that is not because we cannot distinguish one from another with satisfying certainty).
    The T14’s case should be observed because it is unique case study- Not just like any other case study hinted somehow by analyst’s metaphorical mood but the case study effectively indicated by Russians themselves.
    The “case” is the key-word. And this accentuation prompts automatically a few additional postulates. – Notably, not the tank, but the broadly understood case of T14 or a multi-domain and multilayer phenomenon should be the subject of observation or scrutiny. In other words the truth of T14’s case rarely can be find where it supposed to be.
    It has to be embraced exactly as the case due to unique circumstances of its introduction process not easily approachable for regular readers nor even for some number of professionals of relevant domains (what was observable in plenty of publication over the course of last two years).
    Almost from the beginning of its true (or not-true) media-story we know that the latest Russian tank by itself isn’t worth of a huge interest.- A sober appraisal shows that it scarcely meets standards of 40 years old western MBTs and even this isn’t certainly granted.
    Whatever is true about T14 it is not a milestone of tanks’ design in any respect whereas those 40 years old MBT-grandpas were. They came on the military rivalry scene as game-changers though it hadn’t been practically confirmed until the operation Desert Storm happened. They were game-changers whilst T14 isn’t – it is that simple.
    This simplicity crashes a narrative about T14 as a tank of 21century on technological and military level. But it isn’t the end of story – the case/phenomenon of T14 remains very alive despite any sober assessment and this is a beginning of actual true/untrue story.
    However the tank may appear even to some extent insignificant component of the case/phenomenon, though a proper analysis cannot be performed without the tank per se. It is because in this piece of weaponry are deposed some “cryptographic” hints. It is crucial to discern what is “an encoded truth” and what is “a code” or something else.
    The first purpose is deposed in a case-study character of this phenomenon. The case-study signals one thing vital for us even without any Russian context. The thing is: A tangibly increasing need for some new formulation or/and -for abandoning traditional templates. Templates being still in fact more-or-less “de-professionalised” form of old-fashioned strictly professional reports. Professional reports which by themselves are obsoletely tied to 19th century perception of technology and its applications generally or application to industrial-type of wars, in particular.
    The 19th century paradigm demands very strict and dry approach to a subject of description. Factually this approach had never been the most adequate but its vices become really counterproductive or even detrimental only recently in 21th century. Now, a realisation that we do not write for readers living in vacuum or wonderland (except hobbyists who do or try to do this way fuelled by professional/semi-professional publications) becomes crucial as never before.
    Alike important is a parallel realisation that we do not write about technology being run in the vacuum (even if one is just writing about the space industry).
    Both these realisation are not new at least since the times of George F. Kennan. Nevertheless probably a proportion between given physical subject vs. its “cloud” has never been like it is happening currently and a power of the last one never been such overwhelming. It is because the broadly understood manipulation became a branch of civil economy relatively late and its technology has been systematised even later while “the beigest guns” or sub-branches of the economy (like digitalisation, Internet or Big-Data-industry) are completely newly emerged.
    In Russia this is even more overwhelming than in democratic world though for different or rather for antithetical reasons.
    Notable: Russian reasons are not easily comprehensive or even not approachable for common sense/knowledge of regular Westerner. Thus fresh and unconventional solutions are so vital to address the unique circumstances. Especially now when the War by Available Means (WAM) is so much in the process.
    What attributes these circumstances in scope of T14 is a game derived rather from psy-ops’ playbook then from marketing or field-manuals. However the game exploits all three and not only these.
    Factually Russians plays some equivocal game around this particular project (notably: not around the rest of 2015’s premieres). The game is played in two seemingly contradictory modes:
    The first is aimed to make public (internal and external) believing that the extinction of Russian defence-industry (industry enclosing a lion’s part of entire high-tech-economy of Russia) doesn’t happening or they [Russia’s rulers] are able to revers it by creating wunderwaffe-like field-weaponry.
    The second is an inclusion of this very material weapon into battlefields of the informal psy-ops war (what would encompass also some limited physical fielding in undefined future).
    On this war’s battlefields we are facing paradoxical situations where the new tank is redundant and indispensable at the same time.
    We don’t need PhDs in Russian peculiar patterns to comprehend this idiosyncratic rationality – What we need the most is a critical thinking and a bit of universal historical perspective.
    The history is saturated by cases of outstanding weaponry.
    A rising fame of one such weapon was usually bringing some additional measurable advantages for its users -material benefits from immaterial sphere. In all such cases inevitable condition has been that the fame was starting on some real battlefield though it would be developed then by other (non-military, non-technological) means. Still however, the development was supposed to enlarge efficiency of given weapon on the next real battlefield.
    Here is the colossal difference between e.g. hyperbolised fame of T34 and phenomenon of T14.
    The last one not only already got its “fame” but it is currently fighting in just happening war regardless the fact that as a physically existing tank (multiplied prototypes most likely) it did not take part in any real battle – did not get to field unites – and even did not get to mass-production .
    It sounds insane. Yes, but this is entirely feasible in such type of war like WAM, though on other hand it raises a bunch of agonising questions :
    Is this tank for such type of war only?
    And if not only, then for what type except that ?
    Or maybe it is fully universal one? Maybe it is set to turn upside-down entire art of war and draw new boundaries of future battlefields -set to impose new principles what would make it the fully universal one ?
    All the above must lead to assumption that a very idea to take Russian revelations as they were just mixture of a truth and a sells pitch, is a fundamental misconception not only under Putin&co. Although the last nearly 2 decades long fabrication of reality is undoubtedly unprecedented even in comparison to Soviet Union reality. Nevertheless Cold War episodes should be still considered as “goldmines” of ideas for the reformulation of discourse upon defence issues (not only Russians ones). As it was a common practice during SU-era, a focus should be kept on reading data from photographs or indirect sources contextualise with universal physics principle and circumstantial premises, instead of Russian data (both, from official sources either “private” media).
    Russian publication are not only over-optimistic like any other sells pitch in the world. They are not only falsified for reasons oscillating between propaganda and paranoia as it was happening in the SU. They are instrument of multi-layered weaponised disinformation and manipulation.
    What definitely has changed amid these measures since SU-times is an appearance of “Russian ping-pong method”.
    In short: This method employs perpetual modifications responding to external reactions. As far we know about centralised institutions fabricating and coordinating emission of weaponised information, in most cases we shouldn’t contextualise one media-source by another (indifferently what country it is from) because there exists the primeval source or a sources-converter which is one of Russian government-dependent institutions.
    It is basic principle of any research – to not contextualise one source by the same one. Although in real life it is much more difficult than it seems to be in principle. Amiss often, we cannot just simpli separate Russian and non-Russian sources.
    Nonetheless we are not powerless.
    Liars and cons are not so skilful if their products are consequently contextualised through a deeper perspective.
    To avoid theory I prefer to adduce one almost anecdotical true story. The story is about fabrication of technical-data by Russian media and/or -by spatialised agencies:
    In May 2015 and over the course of several mouths none of Russian sources did mention a hovering observation platform called PTERODACTYL. In early May 2015 I published fragmentary transcript of our discussion with my Old Mentor on my blog. My interlocutor mentioned his first innovation idea which he had (unsuccessfully) proposed to his superiors at turn of 1970s-1980s. Amid this conversation he (unpretentiously) compared that with much more modern resolution of the same issue presented 10-15 years later by some British desk-study. The British concept was exactly the same as this what Russian media described as element of T14’s development called PTERODACTYL. The British concept had been repeatedly published by several professional magazines some 20 years ago, thus (theoretically) Russian professionals should be familiarized with that. In reality however it looks like they weren’t till some people (me and my Old Mentor among others) started writing about T14’s missing features of real innovativeness or prospectivness.
    Why I am so sure that they weren’t familiar with these old publications?
    Maybe they just tried to keep PTERODACTYL in secrecy?
    Maybe. Then why they ceased the secrecy after people around the world started “complaining” about absent features of prospectivness in their tank?
    Why research upon such equipment must be kept in secret at all seeing that the desk-study had been already published long time ago in a couple of languages and by completely unrelated [to Russia] designers/analysts?
    How to explain this and many others inconsistencies environs T14 for 2 years?
    The most moderate explanation would be:
    A significant part (or more) of revelations about T14 is not originating in the designers team of Uralvagonzavod. It looks like that most of these rumours pretending to be professional is (at best) a sells pitch fabricated by PR-team or even just fantasies being produced by so called “journalists”.
    Although not only media or low-profile officials play the game – time to time even top officials act as “megaphones” of Russian psy-ops.
    A perfect case-study is minister Shoygu’s declaration quoted by Mr. Roblin (unfortunately without adequate commentary)
    It is about: “How the latest main gun 2A82 ( amid several others sub-systems) would be transplanted into being modernised T72/90”
    There are however some bitchy technicalities which we can employ to protect ourselves against being duped.
    The 2A82 gun doesn’t have a bore evacuator. A fume extraction makes little point with an unmanned turret (T14) while it is essential for crews of T72/90.
    But this is still an easy part.
    Much more bitchy is an ammunition-issue. The 2A82 gun uses single-piece ammunition while 2A46 gun of T72/90 two-piece what demands subsequent changes in the gun, though it is still not the nasties problem. The nasties is fact that T72/90 has no space to accommodate autoloader for such ammunition and 2 crewman together.
    Only these facts above make Shoygu’s declaration about an upgrade of T90s with T14’s technology quite amusing puzzle.
    There is no space for illusions – The adaptation of the new gun to old tanks implies a designing of ANOTHER NEW GUN or A NEW AUTOLOADER, period.
    There cannot be other option in terms of enginery… except designing a new tank… but the new tank (allegedly) already exists… doesn’t it? Maybe doesn’t.
    Let stay focused on two initial options. A development of new gun requires time and money, so a fast-track-application of T14’s technology into t72/90 is just a delusion or a lie.
    But carousel-system isn’t the only one known way. Indeed there is an available thoroughly tested autoloader-system suitable for T72/90 which requires less space and fewer changes in the gun itself . This one demands instead redesign/rebuild of the tank – this option demands “in exchange” a completely new turret (at least)… so time and money
    On the margin: Russians probably were trying to exploit this option in 1990s in project called Black Eagle, so it looks like another techno-historical-loop.
    Hence, if Shoygu’s statement about acquisition of 400 upgraded T90 is true, this implies that there are two (or even three) advanced time-and-money-thirsty programs to be financed instead of one. Subsequently, it means that project T14 is death as the new weapon of Russia’s land forces . – Or in other words, – that the T-90-upgrad-program has factually replaced the T14’s one and the last will remain in history as an example of multi-media-weaponry only.
    Russians (ministers alike lowest rank trolls) are continuously pumping their poisoned puzzles into the worlds info-space. A quantity of these puzzles is multiplicated then as collateral effect of mutual contradictions between those intentionally fabricated “facts”. Time to time there appears some real information most often as collateral effect too, but as indistinguishable from fabrications is usually worthless.
    Whether thus, writings upon Russian defence issues are factually materials observers of Russian-ping-pong scheme, not for observers of the defence?
    Nonetheless, in boundaries of military/technological domain, all these and several others factors are causing total chaos which plays in favour of the Russian non-kinetic measures being components the War by Available Means (WAM)
    Traditional techno-military-writing-convention is becoming more and more helpless day by day because of its simplistic structure it is easily penetrable and susceptible for manipulation.
    Therefore I am postulating to rethink our concepts in proportions and dislocation of accents. Such restructuring is not condemning our writings to be long and boring (like my text most likely will be qualified by some number of readers).
    I do not see my text as template of new-approach. I just sharing several indication for the new formulation with descriptions motivating their necessity.
    Let’s take one more exemplary sample from my Old Mentor’s recordings:
    [quote]… In 1970s and early 1980s endurance of T72’ barrels was lamentedly poor. A main gun accuracy was falling below any standards after firing approx.100 (put together) live-rounds.
    What is our prospect to find out real endurability of T14’ barrels? Practically ZERO.
    This not my speciality are but even such dinosaur like me knows that, there are only two hypothetical occasions able to fill in this info-gap with reliable data.
    The first would be a foreign purchase of T14s. However we cannot be absolutely certain of a foreign user’s sincerity. Especially if Russians would succeed in trick like this India (in case of PAK-FA) – No one would like to be seen as a fool.
    The second hypothetical occasion would be provided by Russian soldiers via social-media. A probability of such event is low and a quality of data provided in such way rather dubious.
    Do we really need to solve such dubious puzzles?
    Not in 21th century.
    Time to abandon the obsolete reactive mode chasing Russian chaos. Time to define what we really need on given moment or given task

    Military community has intelligence-sources. So, what they want from open-sources is not “an alternative intelligence-ish staff” but samples of unconventional embracement of current situation even if they are derived from historical perspective.
    Everyone who need to explore Russia’s defence domain should relay rather on critical thinking and manageable data. – all of these is available within our world. I would like to say: just connect dots. But it isn’t that easy. We must examining dots-like elements before we can recognise them as what they supposed to be. Even critically attituded western mind is exposed for traps in unexpected areas – sometimes even common sense may lead us to such trap.
    We had accustomed probably too much to such way of thinking where all Russian idiosyncrasies are treated as negligible attributes of local colourfulness. And because of that we are naturally inclined for skipping such details focusing on more rational components of information. However, even this problem is reparable through knowledgeable examination.
    One of the most common cause of misinterpretations observable in plenty of texts is a seemingly logical assumption:
    As Soviet R&D system had been doing well enough in competition with the West for long time and failed due to underinvestment and lack of access to world market [COCOM], therefore improvements of these two parameters must have revitalised Russia’s R&D during Putin’s era. Actually not only “revitalise” but even make Russia’s R&D more efficient than the Soviet one.
    The seemingly logical construct is almost entirely wrong. To make our thinking immune for such traps we need a little more historical perspective than analysing some western processes.
    Saying in extremely compacted form: Soviet R&D system has not been capable to be dehibernated (over last two decades course) just by adding two revitalising components (mentioned above) because of variety of factors. And it cannot be considered as deposited/inherited potential at all because this had been completely dismantled (after COCOM dissolution). Furthermore, it happened without replacement. Although Russians has tried create completely new system absorbing already existing relics of Soviet one what (among others factors) made their efforts inefficient or rather counterproductive. And it is not going to be changed anytime soon.
    Thus, If having all these in mind we take a look at one narrow aspect of T14’s story, we can realise that there is no need to sunk into Russian conundrums.
    For instance: I can bet that Russian metallurgy is almost on the same level like in 1980s.
    Russian allegedly have new main gun in their new MBT made with new metallurgy’s technologies… Where from we know this?
    From Russians.
    Where from are allegedly existing new Russian metallurgical technologies while their R&D system is only able to re-re-re-adaptation of Soviet blueprints?
    What is their viability without western components supplies?
    There would be of course a German-Russian-metallurgy but this is a blind road anyway, the road just approaching its very end.
    Maybe it would be wiser to ask western providers of these technologies(?)
    Even if they (e.g. Germans) are to lie, we have our own investigative journalism capable to diel with such lies whiles we don’t have such device towards Russia’s reality and we cannot rely on this type Russian journalists because they are instrumentalized by Russian psy-ops institution (sometimes being unaware of it).
    [unquote]
    Therefore the new-formulation should not be seen as negligible in domain of Russian queries but not only there. The new-formulation, a new redefined and re-structuralised approach of differently located accents (located sometimes out of seemingly obvious spots) are a challenge but simultaneously – also an opportunity of our own future even without any kind of Russia in proximity.

    Stop – recon – rethink – regroup.
    The need of approach re-structualization met very telling illustration in commentaries referring to the famous T14’s breakdown during a 2015 parade’s rehearsal. As far I know, all commentators have employed only two types of approaches to this occurrence (plus the third one being a mix of those two). However many clues had been reported, no one has explored properly a really informative area which is:
    How Russians were dealing with the very problem on Red Square and what NOT-engineering/NOT-technological deeds conveyed such problem there?
    Paradoxically, the most intend to the NOT-engineering analysis were commentators belittling significance of the breakdown.
    Since 8 May 2015 my Old Mentor was repeatedly expressing his equal irritation over both dominating group of comments -those thoughtlessly celebrating “an own goal”, a self-harm of a Russian hubris, either those trying to erase humiliating facts.
    Nonetheless the event probably encapsulating all factors decisive for the Russia’s defence’s present and its future, has remained unpacked.
    Let me quote original record of my Old Mentor’s comment:
    [quote]…Undoubtedly, the single T14 suddenly stopped passing central spot of Red Square.
    Undoubtedly, its engine was working during the incident (within boundaries of 20 minutes).
    Undoubtedly, a recovery vehicle (based on T72/90) was vainly trying to taw malfunctioning T14 away from the spot.
    Undoubtedly, none of observable reparations had been done before the tank moved from the spot.
    (almost) Undoubtedly, an official explanation of incident was “inexperienced driver accidently pushed a button of handbrake/parking brake”
    First of all, some moron ordered the recovery tank (designed for T72/90) to tow a heavier vehicle with blocked chassis. Apparently without any evaluation of the malfunction’s reasons neither contact attempt with someone competent.
    This fact alone tells us several unfavourable things about “basic tissue” of Russian defence and even more general things.
    Secondly, We do not know exactly what happened but we know, it did not required observable reparations what hints that the thig was small. Although it doesn’t exclude big problems for a T14’ battle-efficiency (at least in proximate perspective). – Small thigs are bitchy capable to cause big problems, especially under fire.
    Russia (deservedly or not) has been famous for weaponry largely independent from a burdens which could be called “small-thing-big-problem” , e.g. AK47 designed as “a brand-new-clunker”.
    This time Russians have entered mostly uncharted territory. Uncharted yet not only for them – no one army relies on MBTs with unmanned turrets alike no one have dared for the crew-capsule/pod application, mostly because of “small-things-terror”(Swedes ones went very close of accomplishment and they gave up). Hence, reading (here and there) about “insignificances of small electronic malfunction of T14” (conveyed in absolving tone) I am getting amused… a bit
    It must be ultimately emphasised – This tank has no chance to act as a tank without absolutely perfectly functioning systems or subsystems depended on pyramid of small things which none of Russian weaponry had not been ever depended on.
    Maybe the official version tells the truth?
    Maybe, but it is even worse.
    In Warsaw-Pact-armies ( SU-army too) prime series of new armament had never been staffed by inexperienced soldiers. – On the contrary, there were extraordinary arrangements to complete crews of the best and most trustful servicemen. Furthermore, even these extraordinarily selected soldiers were acting in accordance to uncommon regulation over the course of introductory period.
    Russian army consists of some 800 000 service people plus definitely experienced manufacturer’s test crews, whereas for the parade were required some 20 of them what makes 0,0025% or even less.
    If somebody try to make me believing that current Russian decision-makers (military or civilian) are not able to arrange and conduct properly a highest-profile presentation… OK then. However it means that they are more incompetent than their predecessors back in Warsaw-Pact’s times. OK then, I am happy with this info – adversary sloppier than was the Warsaw-Pact’s average can win only in case of West’s unconditional capitulation. Is this a part of Russian “cunning plan”?
    This or another way, the official version is a stupid lie or exemplifies mendacious stupidity of entire Russian decision-system (both, civilian and military).
    There is also one more (more general) obvious thing :
    The T14 is supposed to be fielded before 2020 (declaratively). So, it would happen some 40 years after Merkava Leopard2, M1Abrams or Challenger1 and over 20 years after Type90, Leclerc or Challenger2.
    Then, where is T14s superiority over these “grandpas” ? – T14 is scarcely equal with all these above… And even this equality cannot be taken as granted.
    Hence, certainly it is not the tank of future.
    This is tank of the past made for future.
    Then what is this really for?
    Is this like British Churchill – the best tank of the First World War designed and fielded some 20 years afterwards? The tank which showed its superiority over others only ones when in Tunisia happened the heaviest rain of century(?) Is T14 that “unique”?
    Maybe T14 is designed for next looting of Georgia or for a similar scenario’s repetition in Estonia, or for a Russian civil war? Its max-speed would be useful in a looting-action while the hard-kill component of AFGANIT APS(after attaching a manual-mode) could be effective in demonstrations-crushing.
    Maybe it is for battlefields of psychological war extorting unconditional capitulation of adversary?
    One would say that, I am ignoring some applications which does not have any other MBT on the Earth. I don’t. I am just compering the revolutionary turn brought by new tanks’ generation of 1970s-1980s with absent equivalent which should be brought by fairly modern tank in 2015 or 2020s.
    No turn, no glory – paraphrasing an old proverb.
    The historic turn 40 years ago was truly revolutionary because that generation of western tanks was designed to fight efficiently against overwhelming numbers of adversary’s tanks. They were game-changers 40 years ago and still are fully capable competitors even in their basic versions.
    On the margin: a hypothetical future game-changer-tank will have some innovative sub-systems (maybe even a capsule detaching itself from vehicle’s structure in ultimately lethal situation) but not features of single vehicle will make the future weapon system ceiling-breaker. This will be an innovatively set platoon as basic entity of such revolutionary weapon-system.
    What such usefully revolutionary attributes the “Russian panzer-wunderwaffe T14” ?
    Nothing – Because it is not the game-changer in any respect.
    T14 has nothing in respect to warfare and technological issues… So, in these both respects it belongs to the past. T14 belongs to wars which had happened (e.g. looting of Georgia in 2008) or were supposed to happen bud didn’t (e.g. a war on NATO in 1980s).
    Unless, there is some third one, but if the third option exists it doesn’t belong to domain of mine.
    Amiss, in real terms all these observations above don’t make war less probable (even the last option doesn’t rule out low-intensity kinetic actions) because as somebody concluded ones “the most stupid people are not aware of their own stupidity” thus they are more inclined to do terrible things being not able to anticipate even consequences unpleasant for themselves. Such people are capable to re-enact episodes of the past by instigation of a war without really developed T14s or even without any underdeveloped T14 fielded. …[unquote]

    On this stage I would add one more remark to my Old Mentor words:
    Continuously kremlin’s tries to intimidate stronger countries despite Russian army is not going to be able to fight on such adversary. So, it looks like they want to make us poor and weak or at least to perceive ourselves in this way.
    What would make EU/NATO countries “poor and weak” enough for Russian army?
    Only we by ourselves can provide kremlin with this so Russian need us suffering Stockholm’s Syndrome before we even get to be caught by them.
    Is this that much nonsense as it seems to be at first glance? … In 1940 British- French-coalition was unquestionable winner of emerging confrontation in every rational anticipations or betting, whereas eventually they lose after battling only one week longer then underinvested Polish army being attacked by the Hitler-Stalin coalition (1939). It is always worth of a few minutes of meditation as overture any defence issues analysis.

    Purpose
    In own Mr. S. Roblin’s words about his text :
    [quote] This article reviews the claims that have been made about the T-14 and its various systems, considers what these claims imply and, where evidence is available, whether the claims stand up to scrutiny. The reader should keep in mind that in regards to certain issues, such as the configuration of the T-14 armour, it is only possible to speculate. In other cases, the officially available data may be open to question.
    The author invites the reader to interpret the same set of data to their own satisfaction, and to offer their own insight on any data that has been overlooked or not given the consideration it is due. [unquote]
    I am genuinely grateful for this invitation.
    I like this idea, there are however a few things which haunt me.
    After all, any factual development of the very tank apparently has stuck some 2 years ago (or even earlier), alike a development in availability of (more-or-less) credible data.
    Almost everyone chunk of available information is more or less directly linked to government which had built its power on a propaganda and which is just conducting (at least) an information/cyber-war on the West.
    Even if among information from these sources are true particles they are indistinguishable amid mendacious mass. Or even if sometimes we can distinguish good-ones, then only after very complicated critical process giving rather limited certainty.
    Sometimes happen lucky accident telling a little more, with a little stronger certainty, but still we cannot forget about conditionality of the running information-war.
    The latest of such lucky accidents was probably a downgrade in initially claimed engine-power.
    The piece of data had not been reduced because of Russians modesty or fairness. There are (rather rare) situations when a sells-pitch is being (at least partially) replaced by hard data, though such things happen. These situations emerge usually from within advanced trade talks. The most probable occasion for a leak about underdeveloped engine were talks with Egyptians or some potential buyers from Asia.
    Or maybe the source was somewhere else?
    Maybe, such “meddlesome” analysts like Pavel E. Felgenhauer who allegedly has his own sources in Russian military, just confronted official claims with factual assortment of engines (available now or very soon) by Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant(?)
    Or maybe, some countries intelligence made “a controlled leak” ? But what for? Maybe because the NORINCO and its government are keen to quash their closest competitor?
    I chose a little more speculative mode for the section above, deliberately. It is to illustrate – What credibility of data are we facing with (at best).
    Summarising this stage: There is actually nothing to talk about in terms of technology or armoured warfare, whereas there are plenty of motives to talk about T14s’ “staring” as murky phenomenon in the War by Available Means (WAM) spectacle.
    Paradoxically, we have to talk about this “nothing” to penetrate issues really crucial for us. So after all there must be discussed What hypothetical changes would bring eventual T14’s fielding from our perspective? and What these potential changes mean for our security, defence preparations, investments or our coexistence with Russia as whole (still in boundaries readable from T14’s case or related topics)?
    Now is the time to portrayed the issue by prism of details.

    Family chronicle
    1944-1948-1963(?)-1982-1991

    On this stage it is time to dive even deeper by contextualisation the T14s’ crews survivability-level by analogy to entire line of Russian carousel-tanks predeceasing this one.
    However I haven’t expected vast panoramas of historical backgrounds from any text about Russian 2015-novelties, nonetheless the eternal lack of references to the lamentable misconception which has been the carousel-tanks-family must be considered as serious deficiency. It is why I will write a bit too much about autoloaders.
    In 1944 Germans were straggling with shortage of experienced tank-crews. This fact pushed designers to create a concept of tank based on a naval auto-loader. The automation was supposed to reduce number of crewmen and (what even more important) a pace of new crews training.
    The autoloader was using a carousel-magazine. It is exactly where Russian concept came from though this German project has never materialised as far it is known.
    Just after 2WW the German project had been analysed by French researchers and they refused it. Possibly the most important reason why French dropped this idea was the survivability of crews. This interpretation is supported by fact what system of auto-loader was eventually chosen by them – The system which transferred munition feasibly out of crew’s compartment (AMX13, AMX50).
    The heritage of those French research is affecting tanks design to this day even in types not-equipped with autoloaders. The very idea of crews-protection by isolation from ammunition prompted other inventions e.g. reportedly fully effective (in this respect) munition-storage structure of M1 Abrams.
    Generally speaking, “a holy grail” of western engineers-researchers became a transfer ammunition out of crew’s compartment, or -crew’s out of ammunition compartment.
    At the turn of 1950s-1960s Russians took different lessons from German concept. Possibly they understood this very literally – apparently they recognised a fewer crewmen and -quicker training as most beneficial factors of a victorious war conducting.
    Only problem with German design they recognised was a height of machinery which was determining the tank’s height or unacceptable augmentation of entire tank (if munition is stored horizontally). The problem has been resolved by separation of cartridges into 2 segments. This move has had its cost in effectiveness of energy-kinetic-penetrators though in 1960s it wasn’t as much harsh cost as it became in 1970s-1980s.
    The genius Russian solution had deposed in “carrousel family” one more cost which remained unrecognised until battle of Bekaa Valley (1982). Even after this episode very few professionals in the world had realised meaning of this lesson until it has been confirmed by Desert Storm’s aftermath almost 10 years later.
    In 1982 within soviet-bloc access to some information was often restricted even for these professionals who should have such for absolutely obvious reasons – There was very complicated way to obtain special permissions and high secrecy regime afterwards for these who got one. Furthermore, many of them who were preparing reports for highest officials either majority of those officials were not keen to believe simplest facts about T72 ( what means in extension, about all types equipped with carousel autoloader). This is why over some period fallowing Bekaa battle had been produced so many reports founded on “a creative” analysis/a politicized science. These reports are repeatedly echoing in various forms and domains to these days especially in Russia. The knowledge has remined unpopular and vastly downplayed to our days. Possibly it has been uncomfortable for number of reasons, for various users, manufacturers and even for their rivals (in some perverse way) – reasons often contradictory motivated within the same countries or organisations.
    Nonetheless not everyone within soviet-bloc went this way – some professionals or even officials absorbed the lesson and some of these few (much fewer) started thinking about new tank… a tank without “the carousel of death” [it found its partial embodiment in black eagle project of 1990s].
    Since 1982 my Old Mentor developed “his new custom”. When some of acquaintance professionals was initiating discussion about new tank version being proposed by one of carousel-tanks-manufacturers, my mentor was instantly asking: Is there still the “carousel of death”? Are there “kids” on it?… Then it isn’t new version if this couple still remains in place…
    Each single time the same repetition, till appeared Ukrainian Oplot M/Yatagan.
    Over 50 years ago soviet designers put crews into deadly trap. Then after realisation of 1982 the “politicized engineering” restrained their own honesty even in that basic-extent to admit mistake and move on other direction. And finally the long-lasting dreadful trap become “new normal” after collapse of SU.
    Even such serious modernisation programs abroad former SU like Polish PT91 TWARDY didn’t tear this “vicious circle” of “carousel-family”. This time have decided money-shortage and old inert habits of decision-makers – Who knows which of these two was more appalling? The crews’ survivability has been left behind…ones again.
    Discussing the Russian tank of future we cannot skip those two bitter questions set by my old mentor:
    Is there still the “carousel of death”?
    The answer is – There is one.
    In this respect nothing has changed . Nothing except form of munition. T14’s auto-loader is just closing a techno-historical-loop returning to the original German concept working with one-piece-ammunition.
    The munition is still stored in bottom turret section what practically means – in very centre of tank’s hall, ergo potential munition explosion must turn a tank to practically irreparable scrap or more exactly – irreparable neither quickly nor within in front support area. A consequence of this fact is necessity to establish a very high reserves’ level(somehow around 100%) what subsequently implies a huge acquisition of T14… so, time and money.
    And the second:
    Are there “kids”(crew) on it?
    The answer is – Not.
    Luckily for Russian crews this has been changed. Instead of transferring munition storage out of crew’s compartment they moved crew to the separate capsule-compartment located in the front section of (still) the same hall.
    The idea of capsule/pod is very old. All known studies of this concept came to binary conclusion that the capsule has to be technologically absolutely perfect or it shouldn’t be taken under consideration at all.
    In opinion of my Old Mentor it is impossible that these days Russian industry had reached that level of perfectness, thus this new compartment cannot be a real capsule. He made reservation that this is mostly intuitive opinion though basing on professional expertise – not on a hunch. He added also such remark:
    [quote] The theory that Russians just arranged the peculiar crew-compartment instead of real capsule (just to isolate crews from munition) is an optimistic version, because if this is wannabe-capsule reflecting their current technological capabilities then a fate of crews would be horrible. [unquote]
    There cannot be ruled out that one deadly trap has been replaced by another deadly trap, but this dilemma would be resolved only by some “future 1982” which perhaps will never happen for mixture of reasons.

    Turning back to the most “meddlesome” question:

    What kind of war is the T14 really for?
    Let work out this thing trough prisms of chosen technological, industrial and military queries or in other words, decrypt it by the tank itself and its background .
    As it was aptly pointed by Mr. Roblin, an inconsistency between declared total mass of T14 and its armour-protection-level indicates that highest protection got only the special crew’s compartment. In other words it benefits the crew’s survivability only. Whereas the survivability of Russian crews is irrelevant for a hypothetical NATO field-officer whose job would be to defeat Russian opponents. A battle is not about killing enemy servicemen. In real terms the field officer prepares his/her unite not to the kill but to strip the adversaries of their ability to perform their tasks what is defined here by knocking-out tanks, not by killing their crews. In other words, NATO officer sees actually every specific issue by prism of questions: Is the T14 bringing some massive shift in combating it? Or, just any shift?
    Is there anything we have to change in procedures worked out against T72/90?
    Is the T14 more likely [than T72/90] to knock-out us before we knock-out it?
    Under such examination most of means undertaken by Russians to increase survivability seem rather counterproductive for endurance of T14’s offensive capabilities in confrontation with NATO troops. For NATO soldiers T14 is equally capable/incapable opponent like T72/90.
    Furthermore it could be even inferior to its predecessors in several considerable battlefield’s situations.
    On the margin: This partial inferiority implies some unconventional use of T14. However I cannot write about this particular thread on open forum.
    In some circumstances the T14’-crews-survivability would be seen as linked to the query of Russia’s tanks’ manufacturing capabilities.
    If Russians would be able to transfer every survived crew to spare tank of the same type, then must be considered other means aimed to reduce the transfer. What implies to restrain the adversary-crews-survivability as one of available options. This would be game-changing-factor brought by the T14’s case despite that the T14 tank isn’t the game-changer per se. However it is unenforceable without a re-transformation entire country into very form of Soviet Union and additional decades of time.
    Thus ones again – T14 is not to fight war on NATO due to its dependence on Russian industry/front-support-area capabilities which must be enormously magnified to do so… And again – time and money.
    A list of arguments – Why T14 is not for battle against NATO? – is much longer.
    Let’s skip them to analyse options of low-intensity-conflicts:
    My Old Mentor used to say that: A cooperation with infantry, a tactics and recon are three initial layers of tank’s armour, often much more crucial than actual one.
    At least the first one is existentially important amid guerrilla-like-war-environment and an usefulness of AFGANIT-hard-kill applies mostly to this type operations. Ergo, there is probable contradiction in T14’s very concept (potentially interested for tacticians or strategists ).
    Israeli who have similar system already operational are declaring 99% security guaranty for personnel. Contextualising this sells pitch by Israelis’ highest-standard-approach to their soldiers security we would be sure that such assurance is (at worse) narrowly overrated if it is at all. Whereas, similar certainty cannot be considered as indicator in Russian reality.
    As we can responsibly take assumption, that Israeli APS is not less capable then Russian one, than logically we must reject Russians’ claims about their system’s efficiency against kinetic projectiles. Israeli declared only initial R&D-efforts to extend their APS’s capabilities to make it useful against kinetic-projectiles whilst Russians just declare such capability of their APS as fully operational… True or false?
    Even rational authors who had detected this aspect’s regularity are associating it in most cases automatically with a hypothetical tanks battle. This atomized intellectual reflex perfectly illustrates, how western common sense/common knowledge misses crucial components of Russian reality in pre-conscious way.
    A western mind is automatically inclined to associate exclusively a kinetic-projectiles-theme with tanks’ encounters skipping some endemic facts.
    One of such facts is a peculiar feature of Russian-Ukrainian war in in Donbas:
    A big part of both sides artillery there are towed anti-tank guns.
    Specialised anti-tank-guns had been decommissioned from western armies long time ago. – A number of observers rightly sees this category as a relict.
    Military/political observers obviously know about this weaponry use in Donbas but they qualify this fact only as a make-shift substitution of proper artillery pieces. Or, as a trick bypassing restriction of the Minsk’s Cease-Fire Agreement.
    All of these is also true but there is something much more important for T14’s context.
    Here is encrypted very crucial middle-long-term-clue referring to low-intensity-conflicts of approaching future or potential battlefields for T14.
    In Donbas towed anti-tanks guns play usually role of general-purpose artillery using mostly ammunition effective against personnel or battle-shelters but they are design to fight on tanks using kinetic projectiles. The most modern and ipso facto the most ominous for T14 is type 2A45 being in Ukrainian service too. If T14 appeared in Donbas, its most deadly enemy would turn out not Ukrainian tanks but ambushes equipped in such towed guns.
    Just imagine “a bounty-hunters’ spirit” and enthusiasm rising among Ukrainian soldiers prompted by a rumour about T14s’ presence in Donbas. – Sending T14 on this war weren’t be good idea, especially in limited numbers (as a propaganda-campaign-element). It would be equally stupid like show-off which killed the Kursk-submarine though probably less murderous.
    On the ambush occasion T14 desperately needs excellent cooperation with own infantry while the infantry would be not really motivated to cooperate with the tank which would kill own infantry (by hard-kill-AFGANIT APS).
    There is also another related factor shaping characteristic of potential battlefield for T14. The largest user of anti-tank 2A45 gun is Russian army. In case of potential Russian civil war this fact implies that it is statistically impossible to avoid a transfer of such guns into hands of hypothetical insurgents.
    Neither on low-intensity-battlefield nor on regular one, cannot be downplayed an impact of small-calibre-guns on tank that much dependant on its sensors as T14. Especially when a development of intelligent-small-calibre-ammunition just accelerates. As it had been pointed by my Old Mentor, this tank cannot do anything without perfectly functional sensors. Whereas it would be easily deprived of them even by small-calibre guns.
    There is no means available yet to protect sensors with satisfying efficiency and this is probably the main reason why no other MBT in the world hasn’t unmanned turret.
    In practical terms it means that in battle NATO IFVs are perfectly capable to suppress T14s using their guns. Blinded tanks can only retreat being exposed on attack of guided anti-tank missiles.
    There is also variety of other munition in NATO service capable to make T14 inoperative even if it would avoid destruction – it must be constantly kept in mind that this tank cannot even basically defend itself without functioning sensors while nothing really protects these sensors especially against attack from upper hemisphere.
    It looks not much better on battlefield of low-intensity-conflict. – Probably there T14s would escape ultimate destruction after being blinded. However it is only matter of time when on such battlefields will appear more modern missiles operating from upper hemisphere (where AFGANIT APS is practically useless).

    Only one type of battlefield where T14 remines very strong competitor remines the multi-media or non-kinetic one.
    Hence, Whether T14 is really a tank (in real military sense) or just a prop? – The prop in Russian informal (only partially kinetic) war on the West and its allies/aspiring allies? Or still the prop but employed to something less sinister like imperial global bullying spectacle?
    If this is not real MBT but the prop, it makes T14 scarcely linked to its seemingly obvious applications.
    But I must recall my Old Mentor’s reflection ones again : Inability of T14 or entire Russian war machine to battle on NATO doesn’t make the war less probable because not a reasonable assessment will be the decisive one.

    Summary
    In the same 1982, in the same loction, during the same Israeli operation occurred something what partially overshadowed horror of carousel-tanks defeat – it was defeat/disaster of Syrian air force (equipped in Russian aircrafts) and Syrian ground-air-defence (not only using Russian SAMs but entirely staffed by Russian military personnel). Israeli had achieved magnificent victory employing completely new tactics based on AWACS-category aircrafts and surveillance UAVs/drones. The AWACS-category was theoretically already in service of Russian military though their usefulness was largely downplayed/neglected and surveillance UAVs/drones were a novelty for everybody. The Bekaa Battle-aftermath significantly accelerated development of both means in SU.
    35 years had passed since that event. Thus, as we can observe over few recent years Ukrainian pictographic materials about Russian surveillance UAVs/drones shot down in Donbas we should see as well largely developed Soviet designs of 1980s… Whereas they are made by IAI or under Israeli licence just assembled of Israeli parts in Russia. Everything what relay on modern expertise and technology in these drones is Israeli-made.
    Of course you can find by internet also marks of use Soviet-rooted drones in Donbas, but this is rather sample of the ping-pong-method in actual action. Most probable motive for “excavation” old soviet drones is fact that western media started showing Israeli-made Russian ones. Even a camouflage of these “excavated artefacts” hints that they were in possession of some underinvested research-facility or just museums.
    The example presents what these-days Russian defence industry really is.
    The old Soviet R&D ,or more precisely, a technology-russification-system was obtaining technologies from abroad, sometimes more or less legally [2WW] sometimes completely illegally [2WW and spy-wars during the Cold War] and subsequently processed adjustment of them in accordance to Russian capabilities. In the third step each of subsystems was assigned to particular factory by central planning.
    Why this system died and why Russians failed in building sustainable replacement of it(?) – this is material for a colossal monograph.
    Nevertheless, even without such monograph we have enough material to be sure of several simple conclusion:
    At first – T14 is a media-tank.
    Second – It has zero-perspective to become tank of kinetic battlefield , besides rare isolated episodes when a battle-appearance would be part of media-narratives.
    Third – the most sinister offensive ability of T14 are probably malware codes encrypted within footages of it and other materials posted in Internet.
    Broadly understood defence issues of any country do not function as isolated from politics and marketing creating hyperbolised postures or national sentiments but nothing of these in West doesn’t compare to Russian versions.
    It isn’t a new phenomenon – This has always been there at least since Romanovs’ era. Then Soviet Union brought additional nationwide hyperbolicities which were “upgraded” in Russian Federation by western media/marketing/digital technologies. And that way Russian version entered a sort of “warp speed”.
    We cannot effort in building “USS Enterprise” to chase their centrally conducted nationwide simulacra with global ambitions…But, do we really should to try?
    Let them fly to the end of universe on their own expense.
    The entire new Russian military hardware doesn’t change much from our defenders perspective or possibly change even nothing.
    We have to develop means to fight the Russian War by Available Means (WAM) but what has to be done in this domain is mostly irrelevant to the new Russian military hardware.

    Closing my overview I must highlight one more postulate:
    Looking for impartial balance between multiple lies, untruths and rare truths we are condemning ourselves to produce only additional untruths. The impartiality isn’t worth of that.

    http://wstegamobiusa.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/szczescie-na-wstedze-mobiusa-thank-you.html

  4. Ric says:

    Some thoughts/questions

    What if the T-14 series of vehicles; especially Terminator and hardened IFV are designed for the US Marines’ concept of megacity warfare? The T-14 Terminator in many was fulfills the same function as dismounted infantry without the dangers to biologics; and it also has the same benefits as a WW2 British Infantry Tank or German support gun.

    I would submit that the T-14 should not be considered in isolation but with the Terminator and other support vehicles, but as a system. If considered as a system, then maybe it has merits that traditional criticism has not considered.

    These comments are considered from a Sapper’s and Grunt’s viewpoint.

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