The strength differential between Russia and Ukraine is huge, and Global Firepower reports that Russia operates up to 12,000 tanks. As a result, an advancing Russian tank column is likely to prevail in any full-scale ground invasion of Ukraine.
With more than 150,000 Russian troops expected to be deployed near the Ukrainian border, any invasion force would contain thousands of tanks. The Russian tank force likely includes Cold War-era T-72 tanks, T-90 tanks, and a smaller number of newer T-14 Armata tanks. The T-14 Armata, which has received significant attention in the Russian press, is said to be extremely advanced, although specific information on its capabilities is not readily available.
Would these T-14 Armata tanks be used in an invasion of Ukraine? While certainly possible, production plans for the T-14 seem to have fluctuated in recent years. TASS, a Russian state media, suggested that the Russian military now operates twenty T-14s
Is the tank as amazing as the Russian media claims? Although there are many unknowns, the T-14 would be faster and more mobile than most existing tanks. The T-14 would operate at speeds of up to fifty-five miles per hour and weigh only fifty-five tons. This would allow it to cross bridges, urban areas, or other places where a heavier tank might be challenged to operate.
Perhaps the T-14’s biggest advantage, however, is its unmanned turret, which allows gunners to target threats without being exposed to enemy fire. Unmanned turrets have been under development in the United States for many years, so it is unclear how much of an advantage the T-14’s unmanned turret would be.
The biggest margin of difference may be in the range, resolution, and precision targeting capabilities provided by the T-14’s thermal sights. This technology could allow a T-14 crew to destroy an enemy target without being identified by hostile forces.
Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a highly trained expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. Osborn also worked as an on-air military anchor and specialist on national television networks. He has appeared as a guest military pundit on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also holds an MA in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.