Forbes (USA): Russia is reluctant to sell their latest T-14, but who is willing to buy them?

Recently Dmitry Sugarev, head of the Federal service for military-technical cooperation, in an interview with TASS reported that Moscow “is engaged in promotion of its latest T-14 “Armata”.

“The Russian Minister of industry and trade Denis Manturov said in April that Russia plans in 2021 to start working with foreign customers in respect of tank “Armata” and has already received several preliminary bids,” — said the Agency TASS.

After the first presentation of this tank in 2015 Russia does not cease to extoll the virtues of T-14, tank to the next generation with the latest features. These include the active protection system, capable of destroying anti-tank missiles, advanced sensors and the ability to handle network data, a high level of automation, especially, mention should be made of 125-mm gun in an uninhabited tower, while the crew safely housed in thick armor protected the hull. In fact, “Armata” is a whole family of armored vehicles, created on a common chassis, including an infantry fighting vehicle and tank destroyer.

Some Western experts believe that “Armata” is superior developed in the cold war period tanks, which constitute today the backbone of the armored forces of NATO. We are talking about such tanks as the American M-1 “Abrams”, the German “Leopard 2” and the British “Challenger”. Despite the fact that these countries are already working on creating their own tanks next generation — including unmanned and still have years to go before they begin to enter the army.

Although Russia will probably not appreciate such a comparison, not without reason to say that “Armata” is a departure from the traditional design of world war II and the Cold war — from tanks such as the T-34, T-55 and T-72. At that time the focus was on manufacturing simple and not designed for long term use — tanks. While T-14 is closer to the Western concept of production a smaller amount expensive and equipped with the latest technology vehicles.

It is not surprising that Russia would like to export its T-14. Modern weapons are so expensive that advanced military powers have always consider offers of foreign States in order to avoid the cost of developing your own samples. Imagine what would happen with the American program of creation of the F-35, which spent a trillion dollars, if Britain, Japan, Israel and a dozen other countries kindly offered to spend its taxpayers ‘ money for the procurement of hundreds of fighters of this model.

However, foreign consumers are convinced regarding the F-35 is the fact that the American military is planning to acquire 2456 of these fighters. This circumstance points to the first problem associated with the export of tanks “Armata” — Russia itself is not buying the tanks, at least not buying them in large quantities. The Russian army refused to purchase a large number of tanks T-14 (the cost of each is $ 4 million). Originally planned to buy 2300 tanks “Armata” until 2025, but then this number in the new defense budget of Russia was reduced to 132. Not free T-14 and from technical problems, and, in addition, some of his design decisions seem controversial, said one Russian military expert. Apparently, instead of buying expensive tanks “Armata” the Russian Army prefers to use the approach of Western armies against their tanks during the Cold war, namely, to upgrade existing fleets of T-72, T-80 and T-90.

But what the countries intend, presumably, to buy the tanks “Armata”? As possible buyers mentioned India and China, as well as Egypt and Algeria, which recently acquired Russian BMPT-72 “Terminator” — a new complex of fire support on the chassis of tank T-72.

“Normally, Russia began selling arms to the consumers in the middle East only after it is already included in the Russian military structure, — said in a conversation with me Bendett Samuel (Samuel Bendett), an expert located in the United States the Center for naval analysis (Center for Naval Analyses). — If there is interest, it is likely that sales will begin already after the Russian armed forces will be able to use this tank”.

In this regard, there is another obstacle for the tank “Armata”: what States are able to exploit it? Russian weapons, including a Kalashnikov, famous for the fact that it is easy to use, while the tanks of the next generation, including the “Armata” will be very far from that.

“Given the complexity of the tank “Armata” the number of buyers in the middle East, even if they appear, will be very small, — said Bendett. — I would point to the United Arab Emirates and Egypt as to possible buyers who have experience with sophisticated European, American and Russian equipment. Algeria may also become a potential destination, given the fact that he already has sophisticated Russian military equipment, including the recently delivered “the Terminator” to fight tanks. And finally, India is a key consumer of Russian military technology, including tanks T-90″.

As for the possibility of acquisition by the Chinese of the T-14, Chinese manufacturer Norinco claims that the tank VT-4 is the “Armata”. In addition, the Russian aircraft manufacturers can confirm that the sale of tanks “Armata” China may lead to the appearance of tanks made in China, very similar to the T-14.

However, tanks of the cold war era gradually become obsolete. At some point they will be replaced. Replace their tanks “Armata” — this question remains open.