T-14 Armata MBT during military parade in Russia. Note commander situated in hull across from vehicle driver.
The T-14 Armata is the latest and most innovative MBT to be produced by the Russian Federation. Introducing a wide range of highly innovative technologies the vehicle in many regards can be considered to be a revolutionary development rather than only evolutionary in its approach. Based on a Universal Combat Platform, the vehicle chassis can be used as the baseline for other armored vehicles as well. As of 2015 there were 20 units produced as technology demonstrators. Russia claims to have now completed the vehicle design activity and states that they plan to produce 2,300 of the MBT for their own use by 2020 at a unit cost of $3.7 million US.
The T-14 is a heavy tracked MBT with a combat weight of 105,600 pounds (48 tonne). The vehicle is 35 feet (10.8 meters) long, 11 feet (3.5 meters) wide and 10 feet (3.3 meters) in height to the top of the turret roof. This is substantially larger than traditional Soviet armored units, which typically sought to have reduced silhouettes. The vehicle is powered by a gas-turbine engine with a 1500 hp output, similar to the approach used with the American M1 Abrams. The vehicle has an electric transmission to reduce weight and seven roadwheels to account for the greater vehicle length (all other modern tanks Russian other than the T80 have only 6). As with other Russian tanks, the drive sprocket is located at the rear of the vehicle in line with the engine, and the track idler is located at the front of the vehicle. Able to achieve roadspeeds of 50 mph (80 km/h) the vehicle has an operational range based on on-board fuel of over 300 miles (500 km).
The T-14 Armata began development in the 1990s and incorporated the lessons learned from battlefield experiences with the T-80 and T-90, as well as integrating the many new technologies developed and trialed on various proto-type vehicles. Designed by the Russian company Uralvagonzavod, the Armata involves a fundamentally new approach to MBT design. Rather than being based on the traditional Russian tank philosophy of using simple low cost components, the T-14, like the T-80, is a costly vehicle that integrates many highly sophisticated systems. As well the basic vehicle architecture and configuration mark a significant departure from traditional Russian MBT design philosophy, as well as from typical Western design.
Among the most radical differences in the T-14 is the incorporation of an unmanned turret and the placement of the entire tank crew in a ballistic compartment contained within the front of the vehicle. The driver sits to the left of the vehicle front, the commander sits to the right, and the gunner is located between them. The unmanned turret is fully remotely operated, including rotation, loading, aiming and firing. The vehicle also integrates many novel approaches to survivability including a comprehensive Active Protection System (APS), Electronic Jamming (i.e., dazzlers) and Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) suites, as well as automated threat detection and neutralization capabilities.
The T-14 Armata is also said to be a highly computerised tank. On-board computers continuously monitor the equipment status and report the data to the crew for their analysis. A fully encrypted communication suite enables integrated communication, command and control functions across a battlegroup with the command post. Multiple externally mounted cameras provide all crew members extensive situational awareness. This broad range of computational integration provides the capability for the vehicle to serve many other functions than those assumed by a traditional MBT, including artillery designation, air defense and reconnaissance duties.
The below image summarizes many of the signficant features of the T-14 Armata while the embedded schematic shows many of the vehicles innovative features.
Key features of the T-14
The T-14 Armata is meant to serve as a common platform for a full family of armored vehicles, proposed to include an IFV, a rocket transport, a self-propelled artillery vehicle, and an anti-tank unit mounting a proposed 152 mm main weapon, as shown below. Currently only the T-14 MBT and the T-15 IFV are designed.
The latest generation of the 125 mm (4.92 in) smoothbore, known as the 2A82-1M tank cannon, is situated in an unmanned fully automated auto-loading turret. The auto-loader carousel stores 32 rounds while another 13 rounds are stored within the vehicle. The fume extractor has been removed from the weapon as the unmanned turret makes it superfluous. The auto-loading cannon is claimed to have a firing rate of from 10 to 12 rounds a minute and to have an attack range of up to 5 miles (8 kms). The updated computerized Fire-Control System (FCS) is able to engage moving targets while the tank is on the move with a claimed very high first round hit probability. The system automatically calculates the optimal firing position for the cannon based on a number of sensor inputs, including lead angle measurement, muzzle reference system noting gun bend angle and a wind velocity sensor. It has been suggested that the chassis and turret are designed to be also be able to integrate the developmental 2A83 152mm cannon once it is fully qualified.
The schematics below show the turret with the auto-loading carousel external to the chassis and mounted in the chassis. The crew position in the front of the vehicle can be seen in relation to the turret. The main weapon ammunition and ammo for the secondary weapons can also be seen.
T-14 Turret extracted from vehicle chassis. Carousel and ammunition can be seen mounted under turret.
T-14 Turret dropped into vehicle chassis. Three crew members can be seen in forward section of vehicle. Secondary Weapons with ammo can be seen mounted on top of turret.
The unmanned turret is equipped with a sensor suite that provides the isolated crew members, through integrated computerised screens, the ability to optically detect armored targets at a 3 mile (5 km) distance, as well as having thermal imaging capabilities. The on-board laser rangefinder is stated to have a range of 7.5 km. The crew has 360 all-around view and the gunner’s optical channel also provides the option for up to a 12x zoom. All sensor suites are installed on the vehicle in multiple independent systems to ensure that the crew is not blinded by shots received to the sensors. For each system there is a minimum of two sets of sensors installed, with a third back-up system also installed with a lesser but functional capability. A close-up view of the 2A82-1M and the associated unmanned turret is shown below.
T-14 unmanned turret with 2A82-1M main cannon, showing many of the advanced sensors. The gunner’s sight can be seen to the left of the weapon barrel, shielded in this view by a folding ballistically protective layer. The fully rotating commander’s sight can be seen on top of the turret. The driver’s hatch can be seen open in front of the turret, while periscope sights for the commander can be seen on the opposing side.
A new APFSDS round is being developed specifically for the T-14. The Vacuum-1 has a 900 mm long penetrator and said to be able to penetrate 1000 mm of RHAe at a range of 2000 meters. A new HE-Frag projectile is also under development for the T-14. Known as the Telnik, the warhead is operated by a controlled-detonation fuse, providing the projectile an anti-aircraft capability. The 2A82-1M can also fire the standard Russian laser-guided missiles, with a new missile being developed specifically for the T-14. The 3UBK21 Sprinter ATGM is said to have a range out to 12 kms and is suitable for engaging air targets.
The T-14 is also equipped with a remotely controlled turret roof mounted 12.7 mm (0.50 in) Kord GRAU index 6P49 machine gun and a remotely controlled turret mounted 7.62 mm (0.30 in) PKTM 6P7К machine gun as secondary weapons. The former is supplied with 300 rounds of ammunition while the latter is provided with 1000 rounds of ammo. It has been suggested that the 12.7 mm weapon can also be replaced with a remotely controlled 57 mm grenade launcher or a remotely operated 30 mm anti-aircraft gun.
The T-14 Armata is protected by a multi-layered system against a range of threats, including Kinetic Energy Penetrators, Blast events, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs) and High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) Shaped Charge Warhead armed rockets and missiles. The survivability package consists of both passive and reactive armor components as well as sophisticated active protection system suites. Additionally the rear of the vehicle, near the engine inlet grills, is protected by standard bar-slat armor, known to provide protection against Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) with a 50-60% effectiveness. The vehicle also has a wide range of stealth technologies integrated into the vehicle to suppress radio, thermal, radar and visual signatures, rendering the tank more difficult to accurately identify in a battlefield setting.
The vehicle itself is fabricated from a new ballistic armor plate, known as 44S-sv-Sh. The baseline hull plate is said to provide STANAG 4569 Level 5 protection, including protection from 25 mm APDS-T rounds and 155 mm High Explosive shell fragments. The baseline vehicle is in turn protected by integrated dual-reactive armor. This latest Russian ERA, stated to be more advanced than either Kontakt-5 or Relict 9, is situated strategically along the front, sides and roof of both the vehicle chassis and turret. The crew of the vehicle are further protected by being positioned within an internalized armored capsule. The capsule alone is said to provide 900 mm RHAe. There is also an active mine/IED protection system mounted under the bottom front of the vehicle.
Mounted onto the vehicle is an Active Protection System (APS), known as Afghanit, which actively engages and defeats incoming threats. The Afghanit APS system is able to detect and actively track incoming threats using a millimeter-wavelength radar (has a high resolution, permitting the tracking of rapidly moving small objects). It then initiates a sequence on on-board counter-measures to defeat the threat as it approaches the vehicle. Afghanit employs both soft kill and hard kill mechanisms. The soft kill system employs a system of disruptive dazzlers to cause infrared and laser guided missiles to lose their target identification capability. The hard kill system discharges a physical counter-measure to neutralize the threat. It is believed that these consist of unguided High Explosive (HE) warheads and EFPs.
The APS is largely integrated into the unmanned turret. The threat detection and targeting sensors, believed to be electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR)-based laser warning receivers and millimeter wavelength radar, are mounted under the turret. The radar consists of a 26.5–40 GHz electronically scanned array radar. It is claimed that the system can independently track upwards of 25 ground based targets and 40 airborne targets, and that it is able to detect and track targets as small as 12 inches (0.3 meters) in length. The system is designed to provide the crew an automatic firing solution to most effectively neutralize the incoming threat.
Twelve counter-measure launch tubes are positioned strategically around the turret perimeter and on the turret roof. The system is said to provide all-around protection to the tank and to be able to neutralized kinetic energy projectiles, tandem warhead ATGMs and rocket propelled grenades. It is claimed that the system is effective against threats approaching the Armata as rapidly as 1,700 m/s, and that it is anticipated that future upgrades will be able to address threats moving as quickly as 3,000 m/s.
The below images identifies many of the key survivability features of the T-14, as well as major components, optics and sensors. Survivability systems noted include the bar armor, applique armor and APS radar, receivers and launchers. APS launchers included fixed and aimable (trainable) units, which come in both small (EFP based) and large (HE based) sizes, providing a capability against a broad range of rockets and missiles.
The images below further detail the APS system, as well as identify various sensors and other turret mounted systems, such as the Remote Weapon Station. It can be seen that the T-14 has a tremendous amount of highly advanced features directly integrated into the vehicle and marks a significant advancement in armored vehicle design.
Side view of T-14 turret, showing positions of large static HE based APS hard-kill launchers and small traversing EFP based APS hard-kill launchers. Note that turret can be aligned in direction of incoming threats to further optimize APS performance.
A closer view showing situational awareness cameras (1), APS radar (2), EO/IR APS receiver (3), traversing counter-measure launcher (4), fixed counter-measure launchers (5) and HE countermeasure (6)
View of the active mine blast / IED protection system, mounted under the front of the vehicle chassis.