These are important questions that the Russian military must have thought long and hard about.
Remember the armata design concept is not out of the blue... Russian tank designers have been grappling with the concept of a crew less turret with the T-95 and according to them it was ready for testing and service when it was cancelled.
The point is that armata, kurganets-25, boomerang-25, and typhoon (later bommerang-10), were military concepts of the idea vehicles for different weight class vehicle families to replace an enormous range of all sorts of different vehicle types. There would be multiple companies competing for such contracts, but certain companies will be in with the best shot.
The armata seams to be earily similar to some utterly failed tank prototypes like America's teledyne expeditionary tank, the M1 CCTB and the USSR's object 477. All of them had unmanned turrets.
And indeed the T-95 which was only ever designed as a MBT AFAIK.
It also hasnt been noticed that no unmanned turret tank has ever been in succesful service.
That may be because the unmanned turret concept has some major flaws:
lack of degraded mode which makes it unusable by the crew in battle if any of the gizmos in the turret fails
In a fluid dynamic situation like battle there is always situations where an unharmed crew needs to abandon a tank because of damage sustained in combat that prevents it from functioning... even track damage can immobilise a vehicle... a lucky hit to the turret ring that jams the turret, an enemy round to the main gun.
The point is that having two crew in a turret will not protect the main gun from being hit or the gunners optics being shattered, and there are very few things they can actually fix in the heat of battle that can get the vehicle fighting again... most of the time the solution will be to bail out and get the vehicle towed to safety and get repaired later... in which case having the three crew under the thickest and most sloped armour till you make that decision will keep them the safest. Anti spall liners and flak vests and helmets should offer excellent protection if something actually manages to penetrate... and not having them in a straight line in the hull will make lining up and killing all three with one shot unlikely.
stuffing the crew into one compartment will make them more vulnerable to shells and mine blasts since a single penetration into the capsule will kill off the entire crew
Sorry but that is a myth. The only time the entire crew is at risk is if they are sitting amongst ammo and fuel and a penetration of the armour ignites either... in which case the exploding fuel and ammo is what actually kills them.
As shown with the penetrations of western tanks in the Gulf where one crew is injured only because they were in the path of the penetration at the time, the risk is much lower when all that ammo and fuel is taken away from the crew compartment... which is the whole idea behind unmanned turrets.
lack of unrestricted top vision which is essential for survival in battle
This is critical... but keep in mind that the APS and Shtora both require 360 degree vision around the tank to function properly... now with the former likely useing MMW radar and the latter an optics system that detects IR sources and lasers you would think that it would not take a genius to realise that 360 degree continuous visual (optical and IR) and radar (MMW) scanning of the surroundings including directly up for diving top attack munitions could be translated into excellent situational awareness. Adding to that some form of anti sniper/optics system as shown in binocular based systems already deployed by Russian forces and sold overseas, and DIRCMs suddenly makes this an interesting vehicle. I rather suspect and audio anti sniper system that can detect shots... calibre and source would be standard equipment too.
Add to this the potential for UAV support and use for gods eye views of the target and the vehicle itself and I think putting all the crew down in the hull is looking better and better.
Do you think the armata will solve these problems?
I rather suspect they already solved those problems with the T-95 which also had an unmanned turret.
IMO they should designed it as a buffed up black eagle.
The Black Eagle would be rejected for the same reason the Burlak upgrade of the T-72 was rejected... all the ammo in the turret bustle is too vulnerable to enemy fire.
In the T-95 and armata the ammo will be stored in the turret below the level of the turret ring.
If I recall, I think the BMP-T turret is unmanned, with the flaw of reloading the missiles requires the crew to dismount.
The BMPT has two crew in the turret, though seated below the turret ring. It was this flaw of having to reload the missiles that I suggested an external 100mm rifled gun as a cheap alternative to putting HE down range with accuracy and lots of power.
.If Armata represents a truly defensive fighting vehicle,certainly it is not a tank.
I don't follow. A tank, by definition is a vehicle with heavy armour designed to carry a gun powerful enough to take on any enemy armour. A mobile gun platform able to deliver accurate and powerful hits on vehicles and structures and enemy troops in the open or behind cover.
Defensive tank killers have fixed guns and generally are older model tanks that are too small to take the big heavy gins of later tanks fitted to them in a turret so they have a fixed structure that greatly limits traverse.
Cheap to make and use they are better for defence than attack because they are not good for mobile warfare where you want the vehicle to move one way and shoot another.
This armata should be fine as an offensive and defensive tank.
Placing all 3 crew into a 56 ton behemoths central compartment is a bad idea,in regards to survivability,ergonomics and maintenance issues(t-72 crews cant repair a thrown track quickly without outside assistance).
The three crew are sitting at the front under the thickest and heaviest armour on the tank that is very steeply sloped to maximise protection... where else would you put them?
In real combat a crew doesn't leap out and change the tire... under enemy fire that would be suicide for any tank... they would abandon the tank... if they think the enemy might get it they would set it on fire before they left.
Follow up forces will recover the vehicle and put another track on it.
Train elite crew,put them in decent vehicles or remote ops gear.Survivability in any Russian built item has never been a high priority until now when Americans out number them 3/2.
Russia has always designed its items to do their job at acceptable risk. T-72s are low and well armoured, their main problem was extra ammo distribution in the crew compartment and the fact that early 80s models faced the latest western models in western combat experience.
American tanks are not relevant... Russia will fight American tanks with tactical nukes... Russia isn't invading NATO and if NATO invades then it will be nuclear very quickly.
The cold war is over.
The Nato MBT 70 was a commission produced vehicle,commissions always put all eggs in 1 basket and fail...result was M-1 Abrams and Leo-2,(T-90 is close)the finest MBTs in the world.Armata is a commission design vehicle,maybe the next design will be equally successful after Armatas trials fail.
Actually the real problem was that the countries interested in the MBT 70 all had different wants and needs and the result was two tanks... the M1, and the Leopard 2.
The MBT 70 actually did the opposite of the armata and had the driver in the turret with the other crew.
I read somewhere on this forum that their turbins suffered greatly in the mid east, therefore success wise, i'd consider the leopard 2 are greater success than the M1A2 can ever be.
The M1A2 is an evolution of a vehicle that started out with British armour and a British 105mm rifled gun.
The first major upgrade was to replace the British gun with a German 120mm smoothbore, and the next major step forward for the Abrams was new British armour...
the T-55 was faster, more mass produced, had as good a gun.
More importantly the T-64 and T-72 had better armour than the T-10 as well as a much more powerful gun.
The introduction of new western manufacturing machines led to vast improvements in Russian gun technology that have led to improvements in accuracy and power and performance... much the same as purchases of Japanese milling machines greatly improved the quietness of Soviet and Russian submarines because of their better quality propellers. They had the skills to design good guns and good propellers, they lacked the machine tools to make them to the precision needed to realise the designs performance.
OK so I get that most of these issues can be solved but what about lack of degraded mode? It would suck in the heat of battle the autoloader to malfunction so theirs no way to reload the tank and it cant be repaired right away?
Manual loading is awkward and slow, if the tank had an autoloader malfunction it makes more sense to withdraw that single vehicle to a rear area and get it fixed than to persist in combat.
The Russians have a lot of experience with autoloaders and not half the stories of tank men losing limbs or their lives are actually true.
Current autoloaders have lots of failsafes, but a damaged one would be a real problem in a current T-90. If you think about it the two turret crew sit side by side level with the gun, so reaching down to the under floor autoloader to get a round that weighs 10kgs and then load it manually into something beside you and then reach down and get the stub propellent charge and put it in the chamber behind the projectile and then close the mechanism and turn forward to find the target would not be a vehicle operating at peak performance anyway.
It would also suck for the engine to fail or the gun to fail... but sht happens and you deal with it.