- Russia’s cutting-edge T-14 Armata tanks have arrived in Ukraine, state media reported.
- But the high-tech armored vehicles have yet to truly get in on the action of the war.
- The T-14 program has been plagued by setbacks in recent months.
The Russian Army has finally brought its top-tier T-14 Armata tanks to the fighting in Ukraine, according to Russian state media — but the armored vehicles are thus far serving more as propaganda than potential military power.
The RIA state news agency reported Tuesday that the much-awaited T-14 tanks have made it to Ukraine, citing an “informed source.”
But the high-tech tanks are yet to get in on the action of the stalemated front lines, instead firing on Ukraine’s forces from a distance, according to RIA.
“Russian troops have begun to use the latest Armata tanks to fire on Ukrainian positions,” the unnamed source told the outlet. “They have not yet participated in direct assault operations.”
British intelligence in January predicted that Russia was on the brink of deploying the tanks in Ukraine, but suggested the vehicles would participate in little actual fighting, with the British Ministry of Defense citing satellite imagery of the tanks in a Russian pre-deployment training zone.
The tanks, which have been eleven years in the making, are so new that deploying them to fight in Ukraine would be a “high-risk decision,” the British Defense Ministry said earlier this year.
“If Russia deploys T-14, it will likely primarily be for propaganda purposes,” the British Defense Ministry said in January. “Production is probably only in the low tens, while commanders are unlikely to trust the vehicle in combat.”
The decision to introduce the tanks into the war comes after Russia’s T-14 program was bogged down by delays, struck with a reduction in the size of its planned fleet, and hindered by manufacturing problems, according to the British intelligence report.
But should the vehicles ever truly join the fray, they could ostensibly offer Russia a powerful advantage.
The T-14 Armata is equipped with defense systems that can shoot down the anti-tank rockets on which Ukraine has so heavily relied to block Russia’s ongoing assaults throughout the war, and RIA said this week that the vehicles can reach a speed of 80 kilometers on a highway.
The outlet said Russian combat crews have been undergoing training to use the tanks in Ukraine since the end of last year.
RIA described the T-14 as an “uninhabited tower,” in which three crew members sit in an isolated armored capsule in the front of the vehicle’s hull, from where they remotely control the capsule.