T-90 Main Battle Tank of Russia – 3rd Generation Russian Tank
T-90 is a Third Generation Russian Battle Tank that entered service in 1993. The Tank is a modern variation of the T-72B and incorporates many features found on the T-80U.
The T-90 Main Battle Tank (MBT) is a further development of the T-72. It was adopted by the Russian Army in 1993 and its low-rate production commenced in 1994. Currently Russian Army operates around 750 – 1 000 of these MBTs of all variants. It is the most modern tank currently in service with the Russian Army, which has a requirement for around 1 500 of these tanks. Also currently it is the only mass-produced MBT in Russia. The T-90 is considered to be among the 10 best main battle tanks in the world.
Currently it is the most commercially successful main battle tank on the global market. Export operators are Algeria (305), Azerbaijan (114), Turkmenistan (40) and Venezuela (50~100). The largest export operator is India which ordered 1 657 T-90S tanks. This Indian order included 248 tanks delivered from Russia, 409 tanks assembled locally from knock-down kits and another 1 000 tanks are being license-produced in India. Production was planned to be completed in 2020. Iraq recently ordered 73 of these Russian main battle tanks. Deliveries commenced in 2018. Vietnam ordered another 64 units.
The T-90 saw action during the military conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.
The T-90 MBT uses a well proven chassis of the T-72 and turret with all weapon systems of the T-80U.
It has a welded composite armor hull with a built-in Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armor blocks. Its protection is enhanced by Shtora-1 countermeasures system, which significantly reduces the chance of being hit by enemy anti-tank guided missiles with semi-automatic guidance. Early production tanks had a cast turret.
The T-90 main battle tank is a armed with a fully-stabilized 2A46M 125 mm smoothbore gun. This gun is also used to launch 9M119M Refleks (NATO designation AT-11 Sniper-B) anti-tank guided missies, in the same manner, as ordinary munitions. These missile has a range of 4-5 km and can also engage low-flying helicopters. Main gun of the T-90 is completed with a carousel-type autoloader. A total of 22 rounds are carried in the autoloader and are ready to fire.
However remaining ammunition is stored in the main compartment, rather than a separate compartment with a blow-out panels. This drawback was common to all Cold War era Soviet main battle tanks. Once the armor is penetrated it can trigger detonation of onboard ammunition. Effective range of fire with APFSDS round is 2 000-3 000 m day and 2 000-2 600 m at night. Armor penetration is around 590-630 mm at 2 000 m range.
Secondary armament consists of a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun and a roof mounted remotely-controlled 12.7 mm machine gun, used against both ground and air targets.
Fire control system of the T-90 was adequate for the 1990s. However currently it can not match similar systems of modern main battle tanks. The T-90 lacks advanced sights with thermal vision, as well as panoramic commander’s sight, which would allow to detect and engage targets faster.
This tank is operated by a crew of three, including commander, gunner and driver.
Initially production T-90 tanks were powered by a V-84MS multi-fuel diesel engine, developing 840 horsepower. However soon after the introduction, production switched to improved versions, powered by a V-92 engine, developing 1 000 hp. This Russian MBT is also completed with an auxiliary power unit, which powers all systems, when the main engine is turned off. It is worth mentioning that the original T-90 has a lower power-to-weight ration than most current MBTs, hence its vague mobility performance. Vehicle is fitted with a deep wading kit, that can be installed by tank’s crew within 20 minutes. The T-90 is also fitted with a self-entrenching blade.
This main battle tank has undergone continuous upgrades since it was first developed in the early 1990s.
T-90K command tank.
T-90S export variant (sometimes referred as the T-90E), powered by a V-92 diesel engine, developing 1 000 horsepower.
T-90SK command variant of the export version.
T-90 Bhishma or Bheeshma. It is an Indian license-built variant in service with the Indian army. It lacks Shtora countermeasures system, but retains the 9K119M Refleks ATGM capability. It is also powered by the 1 000 hp diesel engine.
T-90A improved Russian Army variant, fitted with a V-92 diesel engine, developing 1 000 hp. It also has some minor improvements comparing with original model. Russian Army operates over 400 of these MBTs.
T-90MS Tagil a recent version with some improvements, such as new turret, new composite armor, new Relikt explosive reactive armor, new V-92S2F engine developing 1 130 hp, new gun, updated observation and aiming systems.
T-90M and T-90AM are proposed upgrades for the older Russian Army T-90 tanks. It has some components of the T-90MS Tagil, such as Relikt add-on explosive reactive armor, new observation and aiming systems, added remotely controlled weapon station and some other improvements. Also it is armed with a new 2A46M-4 gun, which is 15-20% more accurate. This tank is powered by a 1 000 hp engine. This upgraded version was first publicly revealed in 2017. Deliveries of upgraded tanks to the Russian Army might begin in 2018.
BREM-1M armored recovery vehicle. It has been developed to support the export T-90S main battle tanks.
MTU-90 armored bridgelayer. It was designed to launch bridge across trenches and water obstacles in combat conditions.
IMR-3 armored engineer vehicle. Initially it was referred as the IMR-2MA. It carries the same equipment as the IMR-2 series vehicles. However it uses chassis of the T-90, rather than T-72 tank. Its production commenced in 1996. Deliveries to the Russian Army commenced in 1999.
BMR-3M mine clearing vehicle.
UBIM armored engineer vehicle. It was designed to replace a whole host of different older machines, such as armored engineer vehicles and tracklayers. It can also perform functions of mine clearing and armored recovery vehicles. This machine is operated by a crew of 2 and can carry 3 engineers, sappers or dismounts. It is powered by a V-92S2F engine, developing 1 130 hp. The UBIM was first publicly revealed in 2018.