The T-90 is the newest main battle tank (MBT) in service with the Russian army, a further development of the T-72.

The T-90 with an 840 hp (630 kW) engine went into low-level production in 1993, based on a prototype designated T-72BU. The T-90 was developed by Russia's Kartsev-Venediktov Design Bureau at the Uralvagonzavod factory in Nizhny Tagil. The T-90 features a new generation of Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armor on its hull and turret. Two variants, the T-90S and T-90E, have been identified as possible export models.

By mid-1996, some 107 T-90 tanks had gone into service in the Russian Far Eastern Military District.

1999 saw the appearance of a new model of T-90, featuring the fully welded turret of the Obyekt 187 experimental MBT instead of the original T-90's cast turret. This new model is called "Vladimir" in honour of T-90 Chief Designer Vladimir Potkin, who died in 1999. It is unknown how this design affects the protection and layout of the turret, or whether the tank's hull armour layout was changed.

Currently, there are 241 T-90 tanks serving in the Russian Army's 5th Tank Division, stationed in the Siberian Military District, and seven T-90 tanks in the Navy. On May 15, 2006, Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Belousov announced that along with other purchases, some thirty new T-90s will be produced for the Russian Army.

The T-90S version is in service with the Indian Army, and the indigenous production of T-90S Bhishma tanks will start in India in 2006–2007. Bhishma (also spelt as Bishma) is a character from the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. In 2001, India bought 310 T-90S tanks from Russia, of which 120 were delivered complete, 90 in semi-knocked down kits, and 100 in completely-knocked down kits. T-90S were made by Uralvagonzavod and the uprated 1,000-hp engines were delivered by Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant. The T-90 was selected because it is a direct development of the T-72 which India already employs, simplifying training and maintenance. India bought the T-90 after the failure to establish production of the domestically developed Arjun main battle tank, and to counter Pakistani deployment of the Ukrainian T-80UD/T-84 in 1995–97, and planned purchase of the Chinese/Ukrainian Al Khalid.

The deal between India and Russia, estimated at a value of USD $750 million, also included the complete transfer of T-90 technology and weapon systems to India. With Russian and French assistance, India developed an improved version of T-90S, known as the Bhishma. However, India has reported that problems have arisen with the French-designed thermal sights used on the T-90 due to intense desert heat. In 2006, the Indian Government awarded the Ordnance Factory Board a USD $2.5 billion deal to manufacture 1,000 T-90 Bhishma tanks for the Indian army. On October 26, 2006, India signed another deal with Russia for 800 million USD for 330 T-90s tanks.


* T-90 — Original production model
* T-90S — Later production, with welded turret. Sometimes called T-90 Vladimir or T-90C (Russian Cyrillic letter es looks like a Latin c)
* T-90S Bhishma — T-90S in Indian service, without Shtora active protection system

The T-90's main armament is the 2A46M 125 mm smoothbore gun. This is a highly modified version of the Sprut anti-tank gun, and is the same gun used as the main armament on the T-80-series tanks. It can be replaced without dismantling the inner turret and is capable of firing armour-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS), high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT-FS), high explosive fragmentation (HE-FRAG), Fragmentation-FS, and 9M119M Reflex anti-tank guided missile.

The T-90M and the T-90 Bhishma variants can fire the 9M119M Reflex missile, which has semi-automatic laser beam-riding guidance and a hollow-charge HEAT warhead. The missile has an effective range of 100 m to 5000 m, and takes 17.5 seconds to reach maximum range. It can penetrate 900 mm of steel armour, and can engage low-flying air targets such as helicopters at a range of up to 5,000 metres. Allowing T-90 to engage other tanks outside of their range, except maybe for Israeli Merkava tanks armed with LAHAT missles with a range of 8 km.

The NSVT remote-controlled 12.7mm antiaircraft machine gun has a range of 2 km and rate of fire of 210 rounds per minute. The PKT 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun weighs about 10.5 kg while the ammunition box carries 250 rounds and weighs an additional 9.5 kg.

The T-90 is fitted with conventional armour plating and nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection equipment.

The glacis and the turret of T-90 are covered by the third generation Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armour (ERA). The tank's low rounded turret is centered on the hull and is covered by ERA bricks. This ERA gives the turret an angled appearance, with the ERA bricks forming a clam shell appearance. ERA bricks on the turret roof provide protection from top-attack weapons.

The T-90 is equipped with the Shtora-1 (Russian: Штора-1 or "curtain" in English) countermeasures suite, produced by Electronintorg of Russia. This system includes infrared jammer, laser warning system with four laser warning receivers, grenade discharging system which produces an aerosol screen and a computerised control system. The laser warning system warns the tank's crew when the tank has been 'painted' by a weapon-guidance laser. The T-90's electro-optical jammer, the Shtora-1 EOCMDAS, jams the enemy’s semiautomatic command to line of sight (SACLOS) antitank guided missiles, laser rangefinders, and target designators. Indian T-90S tanks are not equipped with Shtora.

While the T-90 continues the Soviet tradition of strong and weight-efficient protection (the Soviets used combination armour before the West, as well as anti-APFSDS effective ERA), as an evolutionary follow-on to the T-72, it by design does not include some survivability features (if penetrated) that are built in some Western MBTs that may keep its crew alive after suffering penetration by enemy projectiles. For example, spare ammunition is stored in the main compartment, rather than separate compartments with blow-out panels. As a result, if the tank is hit in the right spot under the right angle and the charge is strong enough to penetrate the armor, the ammunition may cook off, causing shrapnel and debris to fly everywhere inside the tank, injuring or killing the crew members.

On the other hand, as it has been shown in the recent Israeli-Lebanese conflict, the effectiveness of the survivability features to limit crew casualties may have been overrated considering the increased power and precision of anti-tank weapons.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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