Here's why NATO is afraid of Russia's new Armata T-14
March 14, 2016 -
By J. Arnoldski for Fort Russ
“The Armata is a source of major concern for Western armies” were the mild words which The National Interest defense editor Dave Majumdar attached to the news that Russia’s new T-14 Armata is already in production. Moreover, just as two strikes brings the out-maneuvered player dangerously close to the third, final strike, so is this “major concern” stuttered by Majumdar twofold. Firstly, the hordes of “Kremlinologists” and Western defense analysts hellbent on forging a picture of an economically devastated and hopelessly desperate Russia fell for their own trick. They did not anticipate that the T-14 would already be in production, much less that the project would still be pursued despite economic slowdown. Secondly, and perhaps most concerning of all, not only is the T-14 already becoming a serial-produced reality, it is indeed a terrifying and shocking reality for the militaries of the US and NATO which have been flexing their muscles and creeping towards Russia’s borders, all the while unprepared to face the new T-14.
The innovative and state-of-the art T-14 first publicly displayed during the 2015 Victory Day parade in Moscow represents a new generation of tank which, as Majumdar worryingly quotes, “will change battlefield dynamics by increasing the importance of cannon, anti-tank guns, and tanks,” the very factors for which the Armata is expected to give the advantage to Russia. All of the scenarios or factors that prove a tank’s worth as laid out by Majumdar for The National Interest seem to point towards the Armata T-14’s superiority.
“[T]he best way to survive on the battlefield is [sic] to not be seen in the first place” or “a question of who sees the other first”, Majumdar writes. Not only has special attention been paid to guaranteeing a reduction in the Armada’s radar and infrared signature, but, in the case of being detected, the T-14 boasts a secret composition of double-layered explosive reactive armor, passive armor, slat armor for grenade-vulnerable areas, and “perhaps the most impressive feature,” the Afghanit active protection system which “uses a 360 active electronically scanned array radar and a potent electronic warfare system to disrupt the guidance of incoming rounds” plus a laser guidance jamming countermeasure and interceptor rounds that might prove to be effective against kinetic energy rounds.
In terms of adaptability and technological points, the Armata represents a complete departure from the Russian tank design tradition handed down from the Second World War which NATO militaries have trained to fight against. The advanced technological features of the T-14 include “what immediately sets the Armata apart from any other operational tank” - an unmanned turret which, touching on yet another crucial factor of tank warfare, means unparalleled crew survivability. These game-changing leaps stand in stark contrast to the United States’ persistent reliance on upgrading Cold War version tanks.
The T-14, in addition, is not alone. The 2,300 that are to be produced by 2020 come in a larger set, the Armata Universal Combat Platform, which includes the T-14 tank itself, the T-15 heavy infantry fighting vehicle, and the T-16 armored recovery vehicle along with a companion of other support vehicles, self-propelled artillery, and equipment which make the Armata Platform a strike or defense force all by itself.
As a whole, as NATO analysts feared, the Armata T-14 is 20 years ahead of the West. In response, Germany has sought to increase the firepower of its Leopard 2 and is scrambling to develop plans for a new battle tank, the Main Ground Combat System. The US, on the other hand, is striving to make its Abrams tanks lighter and more mobile with sleeker guns. But these are all just reactions and attempted compensations. NATO has not only underestimated Russia’s ability to realize the Armata project, but also seems unprepared for the fact that the Armata is a new generation of tank for a new generation of warfare. Meanwhile, NATO militaries and their American overlord seem to just be fiddling with weapon sizes, mobility, and target distance.
Despite having described the breathtaking features of Russia’s intimidating new tank which, according to his own standards, threaten to overwhelm NATO’s armor, he rests assured that “the specter of a massive armored Red Army juggernaut smashing its way through the Fula Gap is long past” and that "there is the question of whether the T-14 can be produced in numbers…given the state of Russia’s economy.” Such self-assurance is the same arrogance that bit NATO propagandists in the tail when the T-14 entered production. By the time that NATO’s yes-men realize that they’ve brought knives to a gunfight, or Abrams up against the T-14, it’ll be too late to call off their crusade charge of “democracy and human rights” against Russia’s new St. George ribbon-adorned Armata cavalry.
Majumdar, Dave. "Surprise: Russia's Lethal T-14 Armata Tank Is in Production." The National Interest. 13 March, 2016.
Majumdar, Dave. "Russia's Armata T-14 Tank vs. America's M-1 Abrams: Who Wins?" The National Interest. 11 Sept. 2015.