Russia has deployed its new T-14 Armata battle tank for the first time in Ukraine, a move it hopes will turn the tide of the ground war ahead of an expected spring offensive by Kyiv’s forces.
According to The National, the tank “represents a major departure from Russian armoured vehicle designs in recent decades”. Moscow military chiefs hope it will “outclass the latest Nato armour” being supplied to Ukraine.
Fitted with extra protection on its flanks, the T-14 tank has an unmanned turret equipped with a five-mile range gun that can be remotely controlled by the specially trained crew. The tanks have a maximum speed of 50mph and are covered by a special stealth coating called Mantiya that makes it invisible to enemy radar.
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“The thermal signature of the functioning engines is reduced to background level, so one is blurred with the other, which reduces its ability to be detected,” said The Sun.
Quoting a “source close to the matter”, the RIA Russian state-owned news agency said the tanks have begun to fire on Ukrainian positions but “have not yet participated in direct assault operations”, said Reuters
Yet any deployment of the T-14 would likely be a “high-risk decision” for Russia, and one taken primarily for propaganda purposes, according to British military intelligence.
A report from the Ministry of Defence in January claimed Russian forces in Ukraine were reluctant to accept the first tranche of the tanks due to their “poor condition”.
“Eleven years in development, the programme has been dogged with delays, reduction in planned fleet size, and reports of manufacturing problems,” said the report. “Production is probably only in the low tens, while commanders are unlikely to trust the vehicle in combat.”
By contrast, Ukraine could soon receive state-of-the-art tanks from Nato members, including the UK Challenger II and German-built Leopard tanks from Poland.
The Sun reported that “the US is dramatically speeding up the timeline for the Ukrainians to get M1 Abrams tanks, with training on the vehicles to begin next month”.
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