On September 10, 2016, the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Red Army establishing a holiday in honor of the tankists who just a year and a half before had smashed into the heart of Hitler's Third Reich in Berlin, the Russian Defense Ministry released its first video of the first batch of T-14 Armata main battle tanks undergoing simulated combat trials. As the Nixon Center's magazine The National Interest reported back in March 2016, Russia's ability to put the highly advanced Armata into production despite economic problems and T-72B3 upgrades underway in lieu of fielding more T-90 MBTs has come as a surprise to NATO military analysts.
According to an interview with the world's largest tank manufacturer Uralvagonzavod translated by Ft. Russ this week, teething problems with the Armata's 125mm main gun are reportedly being ironed out. The Russia Analyst has previously speculated that China with its T99 based on a T72 chassis which also fields a 125 mm gun has been part of that process. Despite the major advancements in firepower, active protection systems, and crew survivability that the Armata represents, as well as its lighter weight and lower diesel fuel consumption that would make it more survivable and sustainable in an actual war in Eastern Europe than its heavier and gas guzzling NATO adversaries (the modernized M1A1 and the German Leopard 2), The National Interest also reports that Russian tank designers are already looking beyond the Armata itself:
Essentially, what the Armata represents is not only a revolution in tank design, but more critically an entire family of manned armored vehicles including the T-15 Kurganets APC which can launch fleets of armored drones. These small armored drones or robot tanks would act as scouts, and take out anti-tank missileer infantry and shoot down enemy drones in order to make way for the manned vehicles. As we mentioned in prior JWS/RM reports on the conflict in Syria, Russia has already combat tested small tracked hunter killer drones superficially similar to the T-1s envisioned in the movie Terminator 3. These machines have been combat tested in firing Kornet anti-tank missiles against CIA-supplied TOW gunners in the Latakia hills near the Turkish border. Here is a video where you can see a test model being put through its paces (video by the Russian Defense Ministry channel Zvezda TV):
As the Guerrilla has mentioned a time or two on his program, pound for pound the best anti-tank missile in the world for the money is the Russian Kornet (here's a video of Yemeni Houthi fighters incinerating a Saudi Abrams tank using one). The fact that U.S. tanks like the M1A1 lack the active protection systems of their Russian counterparts such as the less heavy T-90 was part of the reason why U.S. Army generals admitted to the House Armed Services Committee in April (after a RAND Corporation study essentially said the same thing in early spring) that NATO could not successfully repulse a Russian armored push into the Baltics, much less eastern Ukraine (even if it doubled or tripled the size of the present 'tripwire' force scheduled for deployment to the small nations Washington has turned into front line states).
The U.S. Army also spent considerable time, money and resources investigating the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in which the IDF's ultra-modern Merkava MBTs experienced significant losses at the hands of Hezbollah infantry equipped with Kornets (even less advanced ATGMs in the hands of the Kurds have taken out Turkey's Israeli made M-60 Sabra tanks). The fact that many of those same Hezbollah fighters who killed Israeli tankers in 2006 would have been ready to defend Damascus to the death was one of the hidden reasons why the Joint Chiefs of Staff revolted against President Barack Obama's 'red line' plans to launch an all out U.S. campaign against Assad after the East Ghouta chemical false flag of August 2013.
Some members of Team RogueMoney may recall that the late Michael Rosecliff was a fan of the T-14 Armata design. We decided to post these videos here as a tribute to him and the Evolution Consulting platform he helped to create. As we used to jokingly tweet to Mike when he was on Twitter -- tanks you.