Russia’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has acknowledged that it has been testing its new T-14 Armata battle tank in Syria, aiming to identify and solve any issues with the new production before it is ready for delivery in 2021. The testing is being carried out in preparation for the new tank model to be mass produced and delivered starting next year. Russia are planning to obtain an export certificate for the T-14 next year. The testing was the latest example of Russia’s military checking the capabilities of its advanced weapons systems in Syria. It previously tested the Kh-101 and Kalibr cruise missiles, Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bomber, Sukhoi Su-35 mulitrole fighter and the Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighter, among others.
Russian forces in Syria were to receive the delivery of the tanks in mid-March in order to begin testing their capabilities on the battlefield as part of Russia’s military support for the Syrian regime throughout the course of the ongoing nine-year-long civil war. The delivery of the tanks to the Syrian battlefield comes two months after Uravagonzavod – the company that manufactured the tank – reportedly said that the armoured combat vehicles would be delivered and supplied to the Russian military this year.
The T-14 Armata is a next-generation Russian main battle tank based on the Armata Universal Combat Platform—the first series-produced next-generation tank. The Russian Army initially planned to acquire 2,300 T-14s between 2015 and 2020. Production and fiscal shortfalls delayed this to 2025, and then to the cancellation of the main production run. The test batch of 100 is to be delivered and deployed to the 2nd Guards Tamanskaya Motor Rifle Division, with delivery expected in 2020 or later; tanks will be transferred only after the completion of all state tests.
The Armata was designed over the course of five years, and features a number of innovative characteristics, including an unmanned turret. The crew of three is seated in an armoured capsule in the front of the hull, which will also include a toilet for the crew. It has a 125mm cannon capable of firing munitions to a range of up to 7km; a dual explosive reactive armor system; an unmanned turret; next-generation fire control and data sharing systems; counter-mine defenses; high-resolution video cameras allowing 360-degree awareness; and an active defense system that uses radar for detection of anti-tank missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and other projectiles. Russia Armed Forces already have advance orders for the tank.