Russia’s T-14 Armata tanks aren’t ready to fight in Ukraine war

T-14 Armata tank was sensationally unveiled at the 9 May Victory Day parade in 2015, it embarrassingly broke down in front of thousands of onlookers during rehearsals.

According to information published on January 25 by British Defense Intelligence, Russia has been working on preparing the first operational deployment of a small number of the latest-generation T-14 Armata main battle tanks in Ukraine.

However, Defense Intelligence reports that deployed Russian troops were reluctant to accept the first batch of T-14 Armata’s allocated to them because the vehicles were in very poor condition. It is unclear what aspects of the vehicles prompted this reluctance but, within the last three years, Russian officials have publicly described problems with the engine and thermal imaging systems. In 2021, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu described the planned production run for 2022 as only an “experimental-industrial” batch. Therefore, it is unlikely that any deployed T-14 Armata wil have met the usual standards for new equipment to be deemed operational.

Regarding the failing thermal cameras, a piece of news published by TASS on January 25 may partially address the matter: the Rostov Optical and Mechanical Plant (ROMZ) in the Yaroslavl region has begun the delivery of new-generation thermal cameras TKN-3TP to the Russian army, ROMZ press service said.

At the moment, armored vehicles equipped with night vision devices have giveaway signs, which make them detectable to the enemy. The Rostov Optical and Mechanical Plant has developed and launched the production of a TKN-3TP thermal camera, which makes it possible to detect targets located at a distance of more than 1km.

“Russian Vice-Premier Denis Manturov, who visited the ROMZ enterprise last August and saw the unique solutions used in the devices, ordered command and control organizations to strike a contract for their delivery. The contract has been signed and is being implemented at the moment. The first shipments of thermal cameras were delivered to the army late last year,” the plant’s press service said. Besides, the enterprise increased its industrial output under the state arms procurement order more than 1.5 times in the first half of 2022 largely due to the batch production of TKN-3TP thermal cameras.

ROMZ has submitted an application for a state subsidy necessary for expanding its production and technological capacities. “The subsidy will make it possible to liquidate the bottlenecks and increase manifold the plant’s production capacities for the fulfillment of the state arms procurement order and the solution of objectives of the special military operation,” Viktor Belyayev, chairman of the plant’s board of directors, said.

Products manufactured by the Rostov Optical and Mechanical Plant are widely used in the naval, border, land and armored vehicles and hardware. The enterprise also produces civilian products such as short-range, medium-range and long-range thermal imaging sights; optical devices for daytime, night and day-night vision as well as thermal cameras.

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