Russia has acknowledged that it has been testing its new T-14 Armata battle tank in Syria, aiming to identify and solve any issues with the new production before it is ready for delivery in 2021.
In an interview with Russian television channel Rossiya-1 yesterday, head of Russia's Ministry of Industry and Trade, Denis Manturov, said: "Yes, that's right. The T-14 Armata was used in Syria. We observed the tank's performance in field conditions."
The testing is being carried out in preparation for the new tank model to be mass produced and delivered starting next year, with Manturov confirming that "We are planning to obtain an export certificate for the T-14 next year. We already have advance orders for the tank."
According to information released by the country's Ministry of Defence website, Russian forces in Syria were to receive the delivery of the tanks in mid-March in order to begin testing their capabilities on the battlefield as part of Russia's military support for the Syrian regime throughout the course of the ongoing nine-year-long civil war.
The delivery of the tanks to the Syrian battlefield comes two months after Alexander Potapov, the CEO of Uravagonzavod – the company that manufactured the tank – reportedly said that the armoured combat vehicles would be delivered and supplied to the Russian military this year.
The T-14 Armata, Russia's 5th generation main battle tank, is reportedly the first tank in the world which incorporates "network centric warfare" technology, enabling it to be used for the purposes of target designation and fire adjustment for self-propelled guns, reconnaissance, as well as for holding surface-to-air missile systems.
It is operated by a three-member crew placed in an armoured capsule at the front of the tank, and has arms capabilities including a 7.62mm remote-control machine gun and 125mm smoothbore cannon. The MoD and manufacturers are also planning an unmanned version of the T-14 Armata which is currently in development.
Throughout Russia's military presence in Syria, it has long been accused of using the country's territory to test its various arms developments, with reports emerging last year that it was testing its new S-500 missile defence system in the country. Reports it denied.