The “Armata” Universal Combat Platform (Russian: Армата) is considered the most promising prototype – Out of many suggested designs – of an advanced, next generation heavy tracked vehicle platform. A common mistake of many people regarding this family of vehicles is that the MBT variant of the Armata family (T-14 Armata, right) is the namesake of the Armata platform, however this is not true. As the T-14 Armata MBT is not the only vehicle sharing the designation of “Armata”, this is in fact referring to an entire family of vehicles that all utilise the same hull/chassis, yet fulfil different roles depending on additional construction.
Designed by the “Ural Design Bureau of Transport Machine-Building” a sub-division of the company Uralvagonzavod, the Armata platform was intended to fill the roles of many different vehicles within the Russian military, eliminating the need for vast amounts of different vehicles that only managed to fulfil specialised roles within a combat and or logistical environment. The act of implementing the Armata platform in various versions would better standardise the Russian military’s armoured vehicle force, making construction, maintaining and training more effective due to similar vehicles adopting the roles of other, far different vehicles. The name Armata was derived from the Latin work of “Arma” which refers to weapons of war from the Russian 14th century.
Deployment and Development
The Russian military has been and always is finding new ways to modernise their military forces both at home and around the world. This can be seen by the reluctance to phase out older military vehicles such as the BTR-60 APC and the T-72 which entered service in 1959 and 1972 respectively. Rather than phasing out older vehicles in favour of more modern alternatives like many N.A.T.O nations do, they often opt for finding a method of increasing the lifetime of such vehicles by modifying them in such a manor that improves how they operate in attempts to bring them up to par with other vehicles.
Top – An older model T-72 with standard steel armour
As most of you will see, a rather different course was taken in the procurement of vehicles – Especially the T-14 MBT- of the Armata family. Development of the Armata platform began back in 2009 with the T-14 MBT being the flagship for the project as it would finally bridge the performance gap between current Russian MBT’s and those possessed by N.A.T.O. Whilst the Armata was being tested however, plans were made to once again modernise previous generation tanks, T-72B to the “T-72 BS” or “B Standard” This would be a stop gap until testing and production of the T-14 Armata was under way. This modernisation became more comparable to the more modern T-90 and at a fraction of the cost, leading to the rapid modernisation of the T-72B forces at about 200 a year over the production of seemingly more expensive and similarly performing T-90’s.
Prototypes of Armata vehicles were presented at the defence exhibition Russian Arms Expo in Nizhny Tagil in September 2013, with their unveiling to the public in 2015 during the Moscow Victory Day Parade. Its is believed that after the testing of the vehicles was complete, an order of about 2,300 T-14’s was placed and to be delivered by 2025 at the rate of around 200 per year. Though according to recent statements, various events over the last two years have led to this order being modified the events being the conflict in Ukraine and the heightened state of conflict between Russian and N.A.T.O forces. Moreover, Russia’s economic crises means that the budget for such an advantageous modernisation could be reduced, therefore potentially limiting the number of vehicles that could be ordered ($3,700,000 Per unit). Finally, being that the T-14 is so different in both operation and construction, additional time would need to be taken to train crew specifically for the T-14 over previously used tanks which are all rather similar and tank crews could and would regularly interchange them.
T-14 Armata MBT
The T-14 Armata is equipped with a 125mm mm smoothbore 2A82-1M gun, though the 125 mm gun has become synonymous with more modern Russian MBT’s, the configuration of such a gun as considered rather radical when compared with previous models. The 125mm main gun is mounted in an unmanned, radio-controlled turret. This both minimises the amount of crew needed to operate the tank as well as improve survivability rates if they were to come under fire. The T-14’s main gun is capable of firing 10-12 “Vacuum-1” sabot rounds per minute (The main gun is also capable of firing specially developed “3UBK21 “Sprinter” ATGM’s”) as well as “Telnik” HE-Frag shells in an auto loading configuration at a maximum effective range of about 8km. A single T-14 can carry 32 rounds in the auto loader that resides in the turret and stores an additional 13 rounds in the hull, making 45 in total. The rounds that are stored in the hull are normally the more volatile rounds of ammunition and are stored in very heavily armoured and reinforces ammo-racks, compared to inert rounds that are in the turret that are considerably less volatile if the tank was to be penetrated. In addition to the main gun, there is also both a 12.7mm Kord heavy machine gun co-axial machine gun (Down) and a roof mounted 7.62 PKTM Light machine gun that are both remote controlled from inside the vehicle to further protect the crew. It should also be noted that the Russian MOD has trifled with the idea of mounting a 30mm anti-aircraft gun rather than an additional 12.7mm Kord on the roof (Additionally to the 7.62 PKTM Light machine gun).
The detection range of the T-14’s optical sensors has been claimed to be more than 5 km for tank-sized targets at day, and at least 3.5 km at night through the thermal imaging channel. The gunner sight’s optical channel is equipped with 4x and 12x optical zoom. The laser rangefinder has a theoretical maximum range of 7.5 km. These systems are duplicated; in addition, there is a weaker third system which can be used to aid firing on the move. The crew uses a high-definition camera with a 360 degrees field of view.
The T-14 Armata is powered by a 2,000hp diesel engine that is limited to 1,500 for standard use to ensure the longevity of the vehicles power plant. With the T-14 weighing in at about 48 tonnes, this gives the vehicle a power to weight ratio of 31 horse power per tonne, allowing it to reach a rather impressive top speed of 90kph with and operating rank of 500km or 310 miles. An active suspension system improves the target lock time by approximately 2.2 seconds, and the timeframe between target detection and reaction is reduced by 31 percent, all due to the higher stability of the vehicle when on the move.
In addition to dual-reactive armour “Malachit”, which is largely comparable to the British made “Dorchester” composite armour that you see on the Challenger II. The T-14 possess an active protective system or “APS” called “Afghanit” (Left, the tubes below the turret) which can track and intercept incoming enemy munitions and defeat them before they even impact the armour of the vehicle. According to the Russian MOD, the T-14’s composite armour can withstand hits from all modern N.A.T.O vehicles, claiming that it is equivalent to 1,000–1,100 mm vs APFSDS and 1,200–1,400 mm vs HEAT against RHA (Rolled homogenous armour/Steel).The tank’s crew of three is protected by an internal armored capsule with more than 900 mm RHA equivalent. Finally, the deputy of the Uralvagonzavod has claimed that the T-14 would be invisible to radar and infrared detection through radar-absorbing paint and burying components with heat signatures deep in the hull, though this is heavily disputed.
The T-15 Armata (Russian: T-15 Армата) is another member of the Armata family, unlike its 125mm brother, the T-15 focus more on infantry support as the name suggests and is expected to replace the BMP-2 and all MT-LB based platforms due to how outdated the latter has become when compared to more western designs. The T-15 has additional ERA protection because of its roll as a troop carrier that can transport 9 infantry with the additional 3 crew members, sharing much of the same protection as the T-14 MBT. The T-15 features the “Bumerang-BM” remote controlled turret with a 2A42 30mm auto cannon (Right) with 500 rounds in 15 round magazines to provide supporting fire for infantry. In addition to this, the T-15 shares the same roof-mounted PKTM light machine gun as the T-14 and has an additional Kornet EM ATGM launcher to provide limited anti-armour support when needed. As the T-15 IFV was built to replace the BMP-2 which has a very similar armament, however it cannot offer the same protection to either the crew of the troops that it is carrying. Moreover, the engine in the T-15 is the same as the T-14 Armata although the engine is mounted in the front to allow extra space needed for the 9 troops that can be transported in the back of the T15 IFV.
Other variations of Armata’s
The BREM-T T-16 is another simple modernisation of previous, more outdated vehicles such as the BREM 1. This Armata hull will be fitted with vehicle recovery tools to aid in the recovery of military vehicles and other logistical needs. (BREM 1, Right)
The last variation of the Armata platform has not been manufactured yet, though we do know that it will be a mortar vehicle that will allow a heavy mortar to be mounted either on top or inside the Armata hull and be fired towards a target. This vehicle in the Armata family will use either the 2S12A “Sani” mortar or the 2B11 “Sani” mortar.
The BM-2 is the proposed upgrade for the already existing TOS-1 or “Buratino” (Right), which is a short-range armoured rocket artillery which fires 30 220mm rockets and was designed to defeat enemy personnel in fortifications. The BM-2 is simply the idea of replacing the old T-72 hull for a more protective and standardised Armata hull.