Russia’s brand-new T-14 Armata main battle tank will finally enter service in 2019, but in numbers far fewer than originally anticipated. The manufacturer will deliver twelve Armatas and four armored recovery vehicle variants by the end of 2019. That’s far short of the thousand or more tanks that were originally supposed to be in service by now.
In 2015, Russia unexpectedly debuted a new main battle tank. Known as T-14 Armata, the tank was a break from previous Russian Army tanks and Moscow’s first “clean sheet” tank design in decades. Western media tabloids predicted that the tank was “20 years ahead of anything in the West.” The head of the Russian Ground Forces at the time, Colonel-General Oleg Salyukov, told state media that Russia would have 2,300 Armatas by 2020, by which time it would comprise 70 percent of Russia’s tank inventory.
Now, in early 2019, it’s being revealed that Russia will have only 12 Armatas by 2020. Russian tank company Uralvagonzavod will deliver 12 T-14s and 4 T-16 BREM tank recovery vehicles by the end of 2019. That will leave the Russian Ground Forces 2,288 tanks short of their stated goal. According to a January 2018 report, the 1st Guards Tank Army based in the Moscow, the 20th Guards Combined Arms Army, and the 8th Guards Combined Arms Army will receive the tanks.
What’s behind this slowdown in Aramata deliveries? Cost and development delays are two likely culprits. As a new generation tank Armata is bound to have issues cropping up with test tanks, although that testing was supposed to have been completed by 2016. Russia, under sanction for the occupation of the Crimea and other activities by NATO and the United States, is also likely having trouble sourcing parts. Flat panel screens, for example, are used throughout Armata’s interior but are not produced internally within Russia.