The Russian government has revealed that its new T-14 Armata main battle tank was shipped to Syria for use under “field conditions.” Armata, a brand new tank design, was apparently shipped to Russian forces in Syria but it is not clear if the tank actually saw combat. Moscow originally boasted it would have thousands of Armatas by 2020, but a half decade of production delays means it has at best a handful of the new fighting vehicles.
Russian state media site TASS reports that Armata tanks were sent to Syria by the Russian government. Denis Manturov, Minister for Industry and Trade told a state news show, “Yes, that’s right. They [Armata tanks] were used in Syria. They were used in field conditions, in Syria, so, we took into account all the nuances."
Russia is currently backing the Syrian government in a nearly 10-year-long war against separatist forces. Russia, which views Damascus as a client state and warm water port for the Russian Navy, has supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with weapons and Russian military forces. The Russian military has also taken the opportunity to use Syria as a testing ground for a variety of brand new weapons, including the Su-57 “Felon” fifth generation fighter and the Uran-9 robotic weapons carrier.
It’s not clear if Armata ever saw combat in Syria. It probably did not, as the embarrassment of losing one of the brand new tanks would outweigh any of the lessons learned. More likely the Russian Army was interested in how the new tank’s electronics, power pack, and other systems would perform in hot, dry desert conditions. Many of Russia’s military customers would potentially operate the Armata under similar conditions, countries such as India, Algeria, and even possibly Iran.
Armata is Russia’s first clean-sheet tank design since World War II. Until now, Russian tank designs have followed an evolutionary path, starting with theT-44tank introduced at the end of World War II. This later led to the T-55, then T-62, T-72, T-80, and T-90. A straight line evolutionary path can be traced from the T-44 to the Russian tanks of today.
Armata largely breaks with that path. Armata is armed with a 2A82-1M smoothbore gun, 57-millimeter grenade launcher, and 12.7-millimeter machine gun, all mounted in an unmanned turret. The three-man crew sits in an armored capsule inside the already heavily armored tank, providing increased protection over past tanks. Armata is equipped with the Afghanit active protection system, which detects incoming rockets and missiles and shoots them down before they can hit the tank.
Russia revealed Armata to the world in 2015, and the Russian government boasted that it would have 2,300 of the new tanks by 2020. That’s enough to arm at least seven tank divisions. In reality, the tank has still not entered mass production, with Moscow probably only having a handful of pre-production models at this time. Manturov says that serial production for the Russian Army will finally begin in 2021, and that Moscow is already talking to potential foreign customers.
Source: TASS (state-sponsored)