Russia's new tank reportedly will be faster than America's Abrams, may have a larger main gun and could be part of a 13-vehicle system that will put everything from personnel carriers to self-propelled artillery onto the same chassis.
The T-14 Armata also could become "fully robotic," Russia's RT news reported. But until Monday, its public appearances came with a decidedly low-tech camouflage system: Fabric covering the turret.
Now, the wraps are off in time for the tank to take center stage in Saturday's Victory Parade: May 9 marks Russia's version of V-E Day, when the nation will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the fall of Nazi Germany.
Experts say the first real public showcase of the T-14's capabilities could come at the annual Russian Arms Expo in September, but for now, here's what you need to know:
1. Armata 101. The new tank will weigh 48 tons and could hit speeds of more than 50 miles per hour, according to a spec sheet released by Russia's TASS news agency and translated by the U.S. Army's Foreign Military Studies Office. The three-person tank will be able to fire up to 12 rounds per minute from a 125 mm main gun that can fire multiple types of munitions, including guided missiles, with a range topping out at 8,000 meters.
High-tech highlights include circular-view cameras, a heat sensor and the Afganit active protection complex, which reportedly uses radar to detect incoming threats and destroys them with a rocket.
Abrams variants weigh in between 65 and 70 tons, according to General Dynamics Land Systems spec sheets, with a top speed of just more than 40 mph.
2. Ready to roll. A Russian military official said the tank will enter service next year. Within five years, more than 2,300 Armatas are set to reach Russian troops.
Sales of the tank to other nations could begin in five years. No potential buyers have been discussed; India makes its own version of Russia's current T-90 tank under a licensing agreement.
New Russian military vehicles, including the T-14 Armata tank, make their way toward Moscow's Red Square during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade.
Photo Credit: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP
Variants of the Armata could include a 152 mm self-propelled howitzer, a bridge layer, a mine layer, various transport vehicles, even a "launch vehicle in system for heavy rocket propelled flame throwers," according to the March issue of FMSO's OE Watch magazine.
4. Safety first? The T-14 includes a "multi-layer armored capsule separated from the ammunition container," RT news reported, an arrangement that creates a safer, roomier environment. As one FMSO analyst put it in the March OE Watch, "Unlike previous Soviet/Russian vehicles, crew safety (survivability) and comfort appear to be a concern."
5. And in this corner ... The U.S. Army pulled all its tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles out of Europe in 2013, but they were back the next year, used in training at Grafenwoehr, Germany.
In January 2015, the service announced plans to include about 150 Abrams tanks within its European Activity Set by the end of the year. The increase came in response to a more aggressive Russian presence in the region: Annexing the Crimea region, destabilizing Eastern Ukraine and launching more active aerial patrols, including buzzing U.S. warships.