Russia's Pricey New Tank Can't Top The T-34, Which Is Still Going Strong Decades Later

Military Tech

Russia put on an intimidating show of force in 2015 by unveiling the T-14 Armata main battle tank, which represented a bold new design billed as an unstoppable NATO tank killer.


Russia was to make and field 2,300 T-14s by 2025, but as of 2019 only has some 100 on order and less than two dozen operating in tests, The Diplomat reports.

Four years later, Russia has scrapped plans to reproduce the tank that sputtered and stalled in Moscow's Red Square in the 2015 Victory Day parade, and found an older tank to do its job instead.

Russia on Thursday announced it had bought 30 WWII-era T-34 battle tanks from Laos, which it said were combat-ready, but would be used in parades and making WWII movies.

As The Drive pointed out, this means Russia will buy more of the 70-year-old tanks than it will of its new T-14, and it indicates how Russian President Vladimir Putin has changed course after failing to modernize his military.

T-14: The NATO killer that died in budget cuts

A T-14 Armata main battle tank in the streets of Moscow n May 2015.(Wikimedia Commons/Vitaly V. Kuzmin)

The T-14 in 2015 cast a menacing figure. Russia, previously crippled by debt and still shrugging off the collapse of the Soviet Union, had updated its main battle tank, something Western countries had only done incrementally.

While the US was adapting its M1 Abrams tank to urban combat against weaker enemies in Iraq, Russia had devised a tank designed to kill other tanks.

With automatic loading, an unmanned turret, reactive and active armor, and a bigger gun than any Western tank, Moscow had announced its focus on a return to the kind of conventional ground war that rocked Europe throughout the 21st century.

But like with many Russian defense projects, the bark proved worse than the bite. In the following years, Russia announced the T-14 wouldn't see mass production. Instead, Russia would upgrade its capable T-80 and T-90 tanks which were seeing combat in Ukraine and Syria.

While the upgraded T-90 tanks proved effective in those battlefields, they lacked the propaganda boost of a new, unstoppable tank afforded Putin.

Pivot to the past

T-34 Tanks mod. 1942 made at the Uralmash plant headed to the front in February 1942(Wikimedia Commons/RIA Novosti archive)

Putin's bet on the T-14 as the future face of Russia's military power failed, but, ever resourceful, Russia has now pivoted to the past.

Soviet tankers with T-34s in the eastern front of WWII fought in grueling battles that eventually saw Adolf Hitler's Nazi forces overwhelmed and the Soviet flag planted atop the Reichstag in Berlin.

Putin has frequently tried to revise and leverage the Soviet's hard-fought success in World War II to bolster nationalism and support for his aggressive government, which stands accused of war crimes in Syria and backing separatist forces in Ukraine.

A state-funded film titled "T-34," which tells the story of a Russian tank crew escaping a Nazi camp, smashed box office records in Russia in January. The Associated Press reported that any criticisms of the film have been silenced.

Now Russia will seek to use the T-34s in other propaganda spectacles, it said.

Russians have every reason to be proud of their country's massive sacrifice in WWII and the tanks that have operated for seven decades.

But the tanks, be they T-34s or T-14s, won't lift Russians out of poverty or allow them to enjoy any new opportunities.

Nor will they fight in wars, as they've always been pawns in a propaganda game deftly executed by Putin to scare the West with paper tigers and feed the public with empty stories of bygone greatness.

Read more from Business Insider:

SEE ALSO: Russia Can't Afford Its Fancy New T-14 Armata Main Battle Tanks

WATCH NEXT: Missile Launch Fails At Russian Navy Parade In Annexed Crimea

The U.S. Coast Guard Legend-class maritime security cutter USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750) pulls into Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawii, U.S. to support the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 exercise in this June 29, 2012 handout photo. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jon Dasbach via Reuters)

The United States sent Navy and Coast Guard ships through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, the military said, as the United States increases the frequency of movement through the strategic waterway despite opposition from China.

The voyage risks further raising tensions with China but will likely be viewed by self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from Washington amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing.

Read More Show Less
U.S. President Donald Trump departs on travel to Palm Beach, Florida from the White House in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2019. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election did not find that any U.S. or Trump campaign officials knowingly conspired with Russia, according to details released on Sunday.

Attorney General William Barr sent a summary of conclusions from the report to congressional leaders and the media on Sunday afternoon. Mueller concluded his investigation on Friday after nearly two years, turning in a report to the top U.S. law enforcement officer.

Read Barr's letter to congressional leaders below:

This is a developing story and will be updated with new information as it becomes available.

Left, Sgt. 1st Class Will D. Lindsay; right, Spc. Joseph P. Collette (U.S. Army/Facebook)

The Department of Defense on Saturday identified the two soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan's Kunduz Province on Friday as an explosive ordnance disposal tech and a Green Beret.

Read More Show Less

CARACAS (Reuters) - Two Russian air force planes landed in Venezuela's main airport on Saturday carrying a Russian defense official and nearly 100 troops, according to a local journalist, amid strengthening ties between Caracas and Moscow.

A flight-tracking website showed that two planes left from a Russian military airport bound for Caracas on Friday, and another flight-tracking site showed that one plane left Caracas on Sunday.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

If the Marine Corps is serious about getting ready to take on a near-peer enemy like China in the future, then it's time to fold its 13-year-old special operations command and apply those resources elsewhere.

At least that's the argument one retired Marine officer made this week while presenting ways the service can better prepare for large-scale naval operations – and it's causing quite a stir in the Marine Corps special operations community.

Read More Show Less