The T-14, like the Su-57 fighter, is considered to be Russia’s most advanced war machine.
A limited number have been produced and shown in parades, but Russia has never deployed them in a conflict. About 20 T-14 Armatas have been built and delivered. But, why has it not been deployed to the Ukrainian battlefield to demonstrate its capabilities?
The Armata is considered a large technological leap from Soviet-era military hardware designs. Innovations include adding cutting-edge features to Russia’s cadre of MBTs, such as an unmanned turret with a remote controlled 125mm 2A82-1M smoothbore main gun with fully automated loading and a total of 45 rounds of ammunition.
Moscow also wants the ability to fire laser-guided missiles and the ability to be fitted with secondary weapons such as a Kord 12.7mm machine gun or PKTM 7.62mm machine gun. On top of this, the Armata class boasts excellent meteorological sensors, satellite communications capabilities, a global navigation satellite system and data-link and radio communications antennae.
Despite the T-14 being initially unveiled in 2015 at Russia’s Victory Day Parade in Moscow, mass production of the tank has famously stalled for years. And with intensive economic sanctions recently leveled against Moscow as a result of its 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the T-14 will again be delayed.
Apparently, Russia doesn’t have enough tanks to have a real effect on the battlefield, if it were to be sent to Ukraine. Indeed, when originally conceived, it was thought the Armata program would produce upwards of 2,300 MBTs by 2020. It may be that lacking sufficient numbers, it is not worth utilizing such precious equipment in the current conflict.
Although the T-14’s armor and anti-tank defensive systems should theoretically protect it from any Ukrainian firepower, a T-90M MBT—considerably well-armored, was recently destroyed by Ukraine. The destruction of that vehicle has been utilized with great effect by Ukraine and its media partners in the information battle. The destruction of even a single T-14 would be a massive reputational loss for Russia.
Yet given the T-14’s truly superior capabilities and Russia’s failure to so far achieve its war aims, its lack of deployment to Ukraine is still seen as confusing to some. While it is true that hundreds of Russian tanks have been destroyed during the invasion, most of these are rather dated. The T-14 would have been able to cross large swaths of territory quickly due to its 1,500 horsepower engine and long range. It also would have been able to neutralize Ukrainian infantry from afar using its new anti-infantry rounds.