Russia’s T-14 Armata Next Gen. Tank Finally Deployed to Ukrainian Frontlines: What Will Its Value Be?

The Russian Military has begun deployments of T-14 Armata next generation battle tanks to Ukraine, with the vehicles having received special modification specifically for the combat conditions of the theatre where they face some of the West’s top anti tank missiles. Russian state media outlet Sputnik reported, citing an informed source, that the vehicles “have not yet participated in direct assault operations”, but they have been fitted with extra protection on their flanks and crews have undergone “combat coordination” at training grounds on Ukrainian soil. This indicated that the tanks were deployed near the frontlines, since much of Ukrainian territory currently held by Russian forces has been recognised since September 2022 as part of Russia and referred to as such.

Deployment of the T-14 has been speculated since the beginning of Russian military operations in Ukraine in late February 2022, with unconfirmed reports having frequently emerged of T-14s being fielded across the border only for these to later be debunked. The Russian Army only began to deploy its more capable tanks such as the T-90M to the theatre in April that year, however, and the fact that it had not been confirmed to have accepted the T-14 into service made deployments of the newest tank class appear particularly unlikely. Indeed, a possibility remains that this is still the case and that deployments in Ukraine are being made outside the Army and primarily to boost morale in the field. Images of T-14s modified as described may go some way to disproving this should they emerge. 

The T-14 and T-90M are currently the only Russian tank classes in production, and while it was previous presumed that a surge in Russian tank production would be allocated exclusively to the latter class the T-14’s possible belated acceptance into the Russian Army could allow it to be affected by expanded production. Close to 200 of the tanks were thought to have been produced before the outbreak of war in Ukraine, with the sharp rise in tensions with NATO since February 2022 potentially having stimulated an acceleration of work on making the Armata fully combat ready. Another major factor may be the acquisition of South Korean K2 tanks by Poland, which were delivered in December after an order was placed just six months prior. These cutting edge new vehicles leave older Russian tank classes at a significant disadvantage. The T-14 is a close contender with the K2 foe the title of the world’s most capable battle tank, with multiple outstanding features setting it apart from other vehicles both in Russia and abroad. The tank benefits very heavily from the largely completed T-95 developed in the Soviet Union, with which it shares many commonalities, although the newer Russian tank was reportedly designed to be significantly cheaper due to the country’s much smaller post Soviet defence budget. 

Among the T-14’s most notable features it’s Vacuum-1 APFSDS projectiles and ability to withstand hits from any known tank projectile, both of which are invaluable for potential clashes with Western armour including K2s and older lower end vehicles such as the German Leopard 2. The Armata’s frontal base armour protection of over 900mm, paired with Malachit explosive reactive armour and the AFGHANIT active protection system, can likely provide high survivability against handheld anti tank missiles such as the Javelin and NLAW which have reportedly been a major cause of Russian armour losses. The armour was reportedly specifically designed to be survivable against depleted uranium rounds, which it was confirmed in March are being supplied to Ukraine by Britain. The T-14 is also well suited to operating as a command tank due to its powerful sensors and protection systems which could allow even a limited number to serve as force multipliers for units of older vehicles such as T-90Ms. The tank’s potent anti infantry capabilities using Telnik high explosive fragmentation projectiles could be particularly prized against Ukraine’s mass infantry assaults, with infantry support having been a leading role for which tanks have been deployed by both sides throughout the war.