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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Russia Aims to Begin T-14 MBT Production in 2018

T-14 'Armata' Main Battle Tank. (c) Vitaly V. Kuzmin

Russia plans to begin producing its latest main battle tank in 2018.


Almost two years after Russia's latest tank, the T-14 'Armata,' was first unveiled, Russian officials have stated that the vehicle are soon to go into serial production. Speaking to reporters, the CEO of UralVagonZavod (UVZ), which manufactures the tanks, confirmed that the tank would be produced starting in 2018.

Sputnik International quoted the UVZ CEO, Oleg Sienko, as saying, "This will be next -- 2018 -- year, but we need to cut back tests." He was responding to the question of when the tanks would be put into production.

Russia's state armaments program initially set a goal of acquiring 2,300 T-14 tanks by 2020. It is likely, however, that budgetary constraints pushed that deadline back, probably at least to 2025. The combination of low energy prices and economic sanctions have forced Russia to cut its defense budget and downsize some military programs, at least for the time being.

The initial order calls for at least 100 tanks for the military -- seemingly in addition to the 20 T-14s already conducting troop testing with the armed forces -- which will be put through the military's own testing and be used in regular service. In September 2016, Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov confirmed that a contract with UVZ had been reached. At the Army-2016 military exhibition, he said, "We have a contract for the pilot batch of 100 plus machines, they are used in trials and combat operations."

Over time, Russia is hoping that the T-14 will become its primary tank, and the chassis it is built on (referred to as the Armata chassis) can be adapted into a range of different vehicles. One version, an infantry fighting vehicle called the T-15, is undergoing testing and may be introduced into service within the next few years.

Russian Defense Ministry official Alexander Shevchenko told Sputnik International in September 2016 that the T-15 as well as a repair vehicle based on the Armata chassis would be joining the T-14 in testing throughout 2017. "If there are positive results from tests in 2017, then the three models will be accepted immediately," Shevchenko said.

Once Russia has begun accepting the T-14, as well as its modifications, into service, the country will likely seek to export variants of the vehicles to Russian allies. Russian officials have continually touted the T-14 as being superior to Western tanks while also being cheaper, a clear advertising bid for the tank.

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