TechBritish report: Russia avoids using T-14 tanks, Su-57 jets in Ukraine

British report: Russia avoids using T‑14 tanks, Su‑57 jets in Ukraine

Su-57
Su-57
Images source: © Licensor

12:26 PM EST, March 7, 2024

The Kremlin appears to be particularly cautious about preserving the image of its top military assets, opting not to deploy the T-14 Armata, Russia's most advanced main battle tank, in Ukraine. British intelligence underscores the near certainty that these units have not seen action in Ukraine.

Russians wary of harming the T-14's image

As previously reported, the T-14 tank, portrayed by the Kremlin as a superweapon, has been identified as a failed, costly endeavor. This admission came from Sergei Chemezov, head of the Russian state corporation Rostec, and former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Chemezov remarked that deploying the T-14 Armata in Ukraine would be too expensive, while Medvedev highlighted its lack of cost-efficiency compared to other Russian tanks.

British sources recall spotting the T-14 Armata during exercises in southern Russia in December 2022, sparking speculation about its potential deployment to the front lines. However, it seems the Kremlin hesitated, possibly to avoid the T-14 suffering the same fate as its predecessors, the T-90, T-80, and T-72. Another concern might be the risk of the tank being captured by Ukrainian forces and analyzed by Western experts, potentially revealing the technology behind the T-14.

The T-14 stands out for its mass of approximately 55 tons, dimensions of 35.4 feet in length, 11.5 feet in width, and a height of 10.8 feet. It was the first mass-produced modern main battle tank to feature an unmanned turret. It was designed to address the common issue of turret detachment due to armor penetration and explosive detonation within. It can reach speeds up to 56 miles per hour and travel about 310 miles on a single tank of fuel, its armament includes a 125 mm smoothbore cannon 2A82-1M, and 7.62 mm machine guns.

Why is the Su-57 notably absent over Ukraine?

The T-14 Armata isn't the only piece of military hardware Russia is holding back. The fifth-generation Su-57 fighters are also notably absent from Ukrainian airspace, rumored to be due to fears of them meeting the same fate as the Su-34 bombers. Norbert Garbarek, a journalist at WP Tech, reported that in the last fortnight of February 2024, at least six Su-34 planes failed to return to their bases.

The Sukhoi Su-57, Russia's most advanced fighter, was designed to refresh the aging fleets of MiG-29 and Su-27 fighters. Western analysts speculate that its development was Russia's answer to America's Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program and the F-22 Raptor. Initiating in 2001, with its prototype first taking to the sky in January 2010, the aircraft's mass production kicked off in 2019 despite earlier plans for a 2017-2018 service entry. President Vladimir Putin lauded the Su-57's capabilities, asserting it to be the premier military aircraft globally, as reported by Rzeczpospolita.

With a length of over 65.6 feet, a height of 15 feet, and a wingspan of about 45.9 feet, the Su-57 boasts twin Saturn AL-41F turbofan engines, reaching a maximum speed of Mach 2 (over 1,522 miles per hour) and a cruising speed of Mach 1.3 (about 994 miles per hour). Its main armament is a 1 × 30 mm cannon 9A-4071K, supplemented with 6 internal and 6 external hardpoints for missiles.

The fighter's first combat deployment occurred in 2018 during air raids in the Syrian Arab Republic. Although it has been used over Ukraine, its appearances remain rare, relegating it to the status of "Putin's parade equipment," similar to the T-14 Armata tanks that are more often displayed at military parades than seen on the battlefield. Moreover, British intelligence has indicated a deliberate strategy to prevent the loss of even a single Su-57 in combat.

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