Bill Collier- With a turret wrapped in concealing tarps, the newest Russian tank, the T-14, is showing more than teething problems. Analysts report that the T-14, which is priced at twice the cost of the T-90 MBT, has been breaking down and is not up to the standards set for it by the military. But the T-14 project continues forward, regardless of these concerns.
Uralvagonzavod, the manufacturer, has answered concerns by the Russian Ministry of Defense about the cost by claiming it can reduce the cost. Originally, the Russians planned on building 2300 of these new tanks, which are of a modular design to allow for adaption to multiple vehicle configurations, including command, engineer, mechanized infantry, and bridge-laying vehicles.
The plan represents a significant increase in Russian armored power and observers note that the Russians have moved away from high-quantity and relatively lower quality versus the West toward lower quantity and higher quality. This applies both to equipment, which has been swapped out over the past 15 years, and training, which is much more intense. Today's Russian military is not the Soviet military- similarities in equipment appearance are only superficial.
One approach being considered is upgrading the T-90 tanks, and even building more T-90's, to the highest standard. This includes reactive armor, active counter measures (such a small missile that interects enemy anti-tank missiles), and superior sensors and targeting systems. The Russians rely more on defeating enemy attacks on their tanks with counter-measures than heavy armor that can simply absorb hits.
The Armata, the name for the T-14, is based on this concept, according to observers, but nobody can say for sure. What is significant in both the upgraded T-90 and the Armata is that the Russians no longer follow the philosophy that tanks have a short lifespan on the battlefield and that they are significantly increasing their armor- without plans to decommission their existing inventory of tanks.
I note that the "sophistication" behind the concept of using active counter measures is problematic. The Israelis use BOTH heavy armor and active counter-measures, for instance, the the US relies on its armor. The Russian approach is technology dependent and if their systems malfunction in the field, the tank is extremely vulnerable as it does not have heavy armor. This concept has yet to be tested in battle and if it works it would represent a major change in the way tanks are designed and deployed.
Pictured, the T-14 with tarps concealing the turret design-