Russia's Deputy Defence Minister Yuri Borisov has confirmed that the country's ground forces have placed an order for two battalions of T-14 Armata main battle tanks. These came alongside an order for T-15 heavy infantry fighting vehicles, and represents a critical part of the modernisation of the Russian Army. Minister Borisov stated on a tour of the Uralvagonzavod factory in Russia's Nizhny Tagil: “It’s no secret that we already have a contract for trials and combat operations: two battalions of Armata tanks and one battalion of heavy infantry fighting vehicles.” The T-15 is itself based on the T-14's chassis, and the body of the versatile new Russian platform is set to replace that of the T-72 as the most widely used throughout the Russia ground forces. With the T-72 chassis being used for the BMPT-72 tank support vehicle, the T-90M2 advanced battle tank, the TOS-1 Thermobaric Rocket Launcher and the MTU-72 armoured bridge layer among several other Russian platforms, the T-15 likely represents the first of many armoured vehicles which will be based on the body of the T-72's successor.
The T-14 represents one of only three fourth generation tank platforms in service today, the other two being South Korea's K2 Black Panther and Japan's Type-10. With the tank planned for production in far greater numbers than the two East Asian platforms, it is set to be by far the most cost effective of the three next generation tanks - though perhaps not the most sophisticated. Minister Borisov reported on the current status of the Armata programme that trials would begin in 2018 and continue until the end of 2019. Afterwards in 2020, all new models would be complete and only then would a decision on large contracts for serial production be made. With the Russian and Soviet militaries having produced well over 25,000 T-72 battle tanks over several decades, and today being by far the world's largest operator of battle tanks, the Armata is likely set to be produced in very large numbers in future. With approximately 9,000 T-72s in service in the Russian armed forces alone, the T-14 is unlikely to be produced large enough numbers to replace its predecesssor entirely in the near future. Production of several hundred units in the 2020s remains highly likely however, particularly with signs of high demand from export clients for the next generation technology. While exports of South Korean and Japanese battle tanks are as of yet somewhat limited, exports of the T-14 could well prove highly successful based on both Russia's better established position as a longstanding exporter of armoured vehicles and the far lower cost of its next generation platform relative to its competitors.