MOSCOW (MW) – With the Russian Army expected to place larger orders for the T-14 Armata main battle tank over the next five years, and with mass production now underway, development of new technologies for the armored platform have continued apace both to upgrade existing tanks and to improve the capabilities of future production models.
According to documents from 38th R&D and Testing Institute of Armoured Hardware and Armament, military specialists are proposing integrating a 152mm cannon onto the heavy tank – an option raised multiple times in the past which would give the Armata a major firepower increase over its current 125mm cannon.
The smaller weapon, the 2A82-1M, is currently deployed by both the T-14 and its lighter counterpart the T-90M, and while it is a large gun for the T-90, the Armata’s much greater size allows it to accommodate much larger weapons. Both of these cannons notably provide greater firepower than NATO tanks such as the American M1A2 and German Leopard 2 which rely on 120mm cannons.
The Soviet Union notably planned to integrate a 152mm cannon onto the T-80 heavy battle tank, which though larger than the T-90 is still considerably lighter than the T-14, and while this testing reached a prototype stage the state’s collapse led to the cancellation of the program. A separate program for a ‘superheavy’ tank, dubbed ’T-95,’ was expected to deploy a cannon that was 152mm or larger in size.
T-80 heavy tank with a massive 152mm prototype cannon
The T-14’s unmanned turret is quite unique today, and is one of the major features which distinguishes it from third-generation battle tank designs and places it as one of just three fourth-generation tanks in service today.
Specialists from the Testing Institute have proposed upgrades to the turret to integrate missiles based on the ‘fire and forget and fire again’ principle, an onboard reconnaissance and signal relay drone, supersonic sub-caliber armor-piercing projectiles and fuel-air explosive munitions.
Under the proposed upgraded program which would include the 152mm gun, the T-14 would also integrate subsystems for automatically detecting and striking targets in probable areas of tank approaches up to 1 km away, laser equipment for disabling anti-tank guided missiles and systems to remotely deactivate anti-tank mines.
T-14 Armata Next Generation Battle Tank
Further new technologies being proposed for the T-14 include a more efficient 1,500 hp diesel engine, dual manual control of both weapons and the engine, and improved ergonomics and habitability.
‘Transparent armor,’ a technology resembling the distributed aperture systems integrated onto Chinese J-20 stealth fighters, will improve the crew’s situational awareness, and advanced decision-making support systems able to automatically identify targets up to 6 km away have also been proposed to upgrade the Armata.
The upgrade will also provide defense against blinding laser weapons, all-out shielding against rocket-propelled grenade launchers and anti-tank guided missiles, and improved protection for onboard electronics against electromagnetic and microwave weapons.
It remains uncertain which, if any of these upgrades, will be integrated onto the T-90M tank, which entered service in 2020 as a lighter and cheaper counterpart to the T-90 and integrates many of the same technologies.
T-90M “Proryv 3”, the latest iteration of the famed T-90, featuring many of T-14’s technologies