An article from ISH ETH Zurich by Joseph Trevithick attempts to deflate some of the hype surrounding the new Russian T-14 Armada tank, declaring it to be pretty “stale.” The author of the piece seems to be basing his conclusions on some comments made by noted tank expert Steven Zaloga, who is quoted as saying “A lot of this stuff is really stale” in regards to the new family of Russian armored vehicles displayed during the May Victory Parade. Zaloga is also quoted as saying that in the end “the Russians are not leaping ahead” and that “this is an attempt to catch up.” Considering the amount of media hype and nationalistic pride that the Armata has attracted, these comments from one of the worlds foremost tank and AFV researchers are bound to grab some attention.
But despite these and other boasts, the Russia’s new fleet is much less impressive when compared to many Western designs, even some that are decades old at this point. The T-14 is lighter and not necessarily any better armed or armored than the American M1A2 Abrams, the British Challenger 2 or the German Leopard 2, according to an infographic originally specifications sheet made up by the Russian TASS news service. The specifications were later translated into English by the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO). Of course, both Moscow and Washington are generally tight-lipped about the exact details.
In terms of armor protection specifically, the T-14 is probably no more impressive than the tanks Washington and Berlin have had in service for two decades now, based on educated estimates. And while Western engineers have generally focused on passive armor, the Pentagon and others continue to experiment with their own active protection systems. The Armata’s Afghanit system is also just the latest development in a series countermeasures the Russian Army has been using since the fighting in Afghanistan – an experience the new device’s moniker clearly references. Soviet commanders – like their counterparts around the world – have found active protection systems and explosive reactive armor can be very dangerous to ground troops near vehicles equipped with these protective measures too.
As for armament, the range estimates for the T-14 seem generous. However, Leopard 2s can already hit targets at similar distances with the help of Israeli LAHAT missiles. Armata crews would probably have to fall back on gun-launched guided weapons when trying knock out enemies beyond some 5,000 to 6,000 meters too. Not that much of this matters, since the Russian sensors can’t necessarily find the mark much farther away. The “target detection range” is only vaguely “greater than 5,000 meters,” the TASS-provided specs said.