Trophy doesn’t appear to provide this capability, in a 2016 meeting with the Congressional Research Service, discussing the use of APS on American combat vehicles, Rafale said Trophy “provides protection against all known chemical energy threats, including chemical energy tank rounds.” Nothing was mentioned about APFSDS rounds. Chemical energy tank rounds (commonly known as HEAT rounds) travel more slowly and are easier to intercept than APFSDS rounds. Thus, the Armata is probably significantly more survivable than the M1A2 SEP v3 and could potentially defeat American rounds before they even hit the armor. Whether it’s actually possible for an APS to intercept the hypersonic APFSDS rounds has yet to be seen.
Despite its superior APS, the thin armor on the Armata’s turret could be its undoing. An autocannon could potentially knock out the sights of the Armata by shooting through lightly armored cover. The earlier mockups suggest such a shot could be taken from a rather wide arc, as opposed to on other Western tanks where the sight is more smoothly integrated into the hull. The gunner’s sight being outside of the main armor on the Armata makes it a larger target than the gunner’s sight on the M1A2 SEP v3. The commander’s sights on both tanks are about equally exposed. If a modern M829A4 round got through the APS of the Armata and struck the turret, it would likely knock out the gun mechanism and take the Armata out of the fight, although the crew would probably survive.
To conclude, the new design of the Armata makes its full crew far more likely to survive an engagement than the M1A2 SEP v3. It also makes it more vulnerable to a mission kill, even from lighter vehicles. The M1A2 SEP v3 is likely to spot and shoot the Armata first, although the Afghanit APS might negate this first shot advantage and provide the Armata crew a vector in which they could return fire. In the end, both the M1A2 SEP v3 and the T-14 Armata will likely see changes to their technical characteristics, capabilities, and systems before they enter service, as they are both still in heavy development.
Charlie Gao studied political and computer science at Grinnell College and is a frequent commentator on defense and national-security issues.
Image: Wikimedia Commons