Russia’s Newest Tank Can Fire a Shell 7 Miles

A new tank-mounted cannon can shell a target from 7 miles away. What’s a gun like that good for?

An earlier configuration of the T-14 Armata. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

An earlier configuration of the T-14 Armata. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

The Russian military has begun testing a powerful new long-range cannon that will be the primary weapon of its T-14 Armata tank.

At the Stratatel firing range, the machine building company Uralvagonzavod (UVZ) spent a sunny Siberian day testing its new 125mm 2A82 smoothbore gun by picking off decommissioned tanks well down range. During the live fire exercises the Armata’s weapon was tested to see how it would perform when asked to precisely hit targets. 

While these firing tests are considered a good measure of how the machine will perform in the field, the Russian military will begin true operational evaluation of the war machine sometime in 2019.

“…2019 is already the commencement of the Armata’s operational evaluation,” said Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. “The tank will go to military practice ranges rather than to factory testing area, which will be followed by serial production”.

While the addition of a new weapon to the Russian military’s arsenal is always something interesting to behold, there’s another aspect to the 2A82 smoothbore that’s arresting—its range.

According to Kyle Mizokami of Popular Mechanics the new smoothbore gun will be capable of firing a shell 7 miles. Put another way, the T-14 Armata will be able to launch a projectile well beyond the range that’s typically visible for humans.

But there’s a catch: the T-14 will only be able to fire a specific projectile, the 3UBK21 Sprinter missile. When armed with that munition a lethal range of 7 miles will be in the cards.

But what good is a weapon with such prodigious range?

Defensive capabilities of tank systems have improved quite a bit over the last few decades, and countermeasures would likely be able to detect and destroy any Russian missile lobbed over a 7 mile span. That fact limits the 2A82’s effectiveness as a tank killer, but shelling stationary targets like forward operating bases or enemy compounds could be one use for such a long range gun.

Another more intriguing possibility for a cannon that can shoot with such range is the chance that it might be able to fire off a Sprinter and take down a drone or gunship. That capability could make the T-14 an excellent mobile platform for disrupting enemy surveillance efforts and stymying forward operating units like helicopter gunships.

Watch the T-14’s live fire exercise:

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