Russia has started testing the unmanned version of its T-14 Armata tank, first revealed during the Army-2020 Forum.
“The Armata tank was originally designed as a crew-driven vehicle. But the level of modern technology today makes it possible to turn it into an unmanned vehicle. We have carried out the appropriate tests and they were successful," Vladimir Artyakov, first deputy general director of Rostec, was quoted as saying by the Russian defense ministry-owned Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper.
Sergei Chemezov, head of Rostec, had earlier stated that the project to build the unmanned variant of the tank will not enter serial production. “Of course not. We are testing unmanned technologies on this machine. It is mainly used as a crew-driven vehicle,” he had said.
“If we talk about the Armata, then everything will be as automated as possible. For example, the crew of the Armata does not need to aim precisely, it is only necessary to approximately aim the gun at the target. That is, this machine uses elements of artificial intelligence (AI) that help the crew to fire. Again, the operator only needs to indicate the direction to the target, then everything is done independently,” Chemezov said.
Russia will start serial production of the T-14 Armata next year.
UralVagonZavod, the Russian machine building company, hinted at a possible development of the tank’s unmanned version in August last year during the International Military-Technical Forum “Army-2020” held in Moscow.
“The appearance of heavy unmanned combat vehicles is a matter of the near future. Within the framework of R&D commissioned by the Ministry of Defense, the company's specialists are working to create robotic combat vehicles of the front edge. During the work, the T-14 Armata tank was also tested in unmanned mode," the company announced during the show.
The T-14 Armata is a Russian 5th generation main battle tank based on the Armata Universal Combat Platform. The tank is operated by a three-member crew from an armored capsule at the front. The T-14 can be used as a reconnaissance, target designation and fire adjustment vehicle for self-propelled guns, surface-to-air missile systems and T-90 tanks.
It is said to be the first tank in the world to incorporate “network centric warfare” technologies. Another unique feature of the tank is the placement of crew in an armored capsule, separated from the ammunition load.
The tank’s armament includes a 7.62mm remote-control machine gun and 125mm smoothbore cannon. An unmanned version of the Armata is planned and is currently in development.
The T-14 has been painted with anti-slip coating, and features a lavatory to provide comforts to the crew during long combat missions.