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T-90

 

The 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. Originally called the T-72BU, but later renamed to T-90, it is the most advanced tank in service with Russian Ground Forces and the Naval Infantry. The T-90 uses a 125 mm 2A46 smoothbore main gun, the 1A45T fire-control system, an uprated engine, and thermal sights. Standard protective measures include a blend of steel, composite armour, smoke dischargers, Kontakt-5 explosive-reactive armour, laser warning receivers, Nakidka camouflage and the Shtora infrared ATGM jamming system. The EMT-7 electromagnetic pulse (EMP) creator has been used in testing but not fitted to T-90s in active service. It was designed and built by Uralvagonzavod, in Nizhny Tagil, Russia. Since 2011, the Russian armed forces have ceased any further orders for the T-90, and are instead anticipating the development of the T-14 Armata that is expected to enter service in 2016.

Development
The T-90 has its origins in a Soviet-era program aimed at developing a singular replacement for the T-64, T-72 and T-80 series of main battle tanks. The T-72 platform was selected as the basis for the new generation of tank owing to its cost-effectiveness, simplicity and automotive qualities. The Kartsev-Venediktov Design Bureau from Nizhny Tagil was responsible for the design work and prepared two parallel proposals - the Object 188, which was a relatively simple upgrade of the existing T-72B tank (Object 184), and the far more advanced Object 187 - only vaguely related to the T-72 series and incorporating major improvements to the hull and turret design, armor, powerplant and armament. Development work was approved in 1986 and the first prototypes were completed by 1988. The vehicles resulting from the Object 187 program have not been declassified to this date, but it was the lower risk Object 188 upgrade that would be approved for series production as the T-72BU.

Production and service history
An early series T-90 with cast turret during a military exercise in Russia, demonstrating deep fording.

The T-72BU was officially accepted into service on 5 October 1992 by the Russian Ministry of Defence and simultaneously renamed as the T-90 for marketing and propaganda purposes aimed at distancing the new type from existing T-72 variants.
The principle upgrade in the T-90 is the incorporation of a slightly modified form of the T-80U's more sophisticated Irtysh fire control system, designated 1A45T and an upgraded V-84MS multi-fuel engine developing 830 hp (620 kW). The T-90 is manufactured at the Uralvagonzavod factory in Nizhny Tagil, with low-level production being carried out since 1993 and virtually ceasing towards the end of the 1990s for the native market. Less than 200 T-90 tanks were delivered to the Russian Ground Forces before production was resumed in 2005 of an upgraded version.

By September 1995, some 107 T-90 tanks had been produced, located in the Siberian Military District.By mid-1996 some 107 T-90s had gone into service in the Far Eastern Military District.
Facing tapering domestic orders and with the permanent closure of the last turret casting line in the former USSR, owned by Azovstal in Mariupol, the designers at Uralvagonzavod together with experts from NII Stali (Scientific Research Institute of Steel) using trials data obtained from the Soviet-era created a new, welded turret to offer further improvement and attract foreign buyers for the T-90. India signaled interest in the T-90 in response to Pakistan's acquisition of 320 Ukrainian T-84 tanks, which was an intuitive decision considering India held rights to fully manufacture the T-72M1 in Avadi, with production being easily adapted to assemble the T-90.

The first 42 complete Indian tanks were delivered in 2001 and were designated T-90S (Object 188S), still equipped with the older cast turrets of the early series (this exhausted the remaining stocks of cast turrets warehoused at Nizhny Tagil) and powered by the V-84 engine making 840 hp (618 kW). This was followed up next year with delivery of 82 vehicles, now equipped with the new welded turrets and the V-92S2 engine, generating 1000 hp (735 kW). The initial contract stipulated the following batch of 186 tanks—now officially called the Bhishma—to be completed in India from Russian-supplied kits, and then gradually replaced with domestically manufactured parts, but the low rate of domestic Indian production compelled the Indian authorities to place an additional order for 124 complete vehicles in 2007 from Uralvagonzavod.
In 2005 the Russian army resumed delivery of the T-90, requesting the "original" specification for the vehicle with a cast turret. But with the new order numbering a paltry 14 tanks, and the large capital investment required to set up production of new cast turrets, the Russian Ministry of Defence agreed on a new configuration very close to the Indian T-90S, which was expeditiously accepted into service without any trials as the Object 188A1 or T-90A.That same year saw delivery of an additional 18 new tanks - enough to equip one whole battalion. These new Russian tanks were powered by the V-92S2 engine, carried a T01-K05 Buran-M gunner's sight (passive-active night-vision channel with an EPM-59G Mirage-K matrix and a maximum observation distance of 1,800 m) and were protected by the most recent Kontakt-5 reactive armor with 4S22 explosive tiles. The years 2006-2007 saw the delivery of 31 T-90A tanks each, now fitted with entirely passive ESSA main gunner's sights supplied by Peleng in Belarus and using the Catherine thermal imager from Thales, as well as improved 4S23 ERA tiles.

In 2007, there were about 334 T-90 tanks of various types serving in the Russian Ground Forces' 5th Guards Tank Division, stationed in the Siberian Military District, and seven T-90 tanks assigned to the marines.Since 2008, the Russian army has received 62 tanks annually, suspending orders in 2011.

Russia is developing the new Armata Universal Combat Platform (also known as the T-14 Armata) to be ready for use by 2016[dated info]. It is expected to employ a more powerful engine, improved armor, main gun and autoloader, with ammunition storage separated from the crew.
An early variant of the export-oriented T-90S allegedly saw combat action during the 1999 Chechen invasion of Dagestan instead of being delivered to India. According to Moscow Defence Brief, one vehicle was hit by seven RPG anti-tank rockets but remained in action. The journal concluded that with regular equipment, the upgraded T-90 seems to be the best protected Russian tank, especially with the implementation of Shtora-1 and Arena defensive systems.
The T-90A was deployed to Syria in 2015 to support the Russian involvement in the Syrian Civil War.In early February 2016, Syrian Army forces began using T-90As in combat.In late February, a video was leaked on the internet which showed a T-90 survive a direct frontal turret hit by a BGM-71 TOW missile in Aleppo.First alleged footage of the targeted tank shows only minor damages to Shtora-1 jammer optics as the result of TOW missile hit.In early May there was another TOW attack and the Shtora-1 system was switched off again. The tank was hit by the TOW; however, according to photos first seen on Twitter, the tank was still operational.

Design
Armament
A T-90A tank firing its main gun at Engineering Technologies 2012.
The T-90 tank's main tank gun, the 2A46M 125 mm smoothbore tank gun.

The T-90's main armament is the 2A46M 125 mm smoothbore tank 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-stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS), high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT-FS), and high explosive fragmentation (HE-FRAG) ammunition, as well as 9M119M Refleks anti-tank guided missiles. The Refleks missile has semi-automatic laser beam-riding guidance and a tandem hollow-charge HEAT warhead. It has an effective range of 100 m to 6 km, and takes 17.5 seconds to reach maximum range. Refleks can penetrate about 950 millimetres (37 in) of steel armour and can also engage low-flying air targets such as helicopters.
The NSV 12.7mm (12.7×108) remotely controlled anti-aircraft heavy machine gun can be operated from within the tank by the commander and has a range of 2 km and a cyclic rate of fire of 700–800 rounds per minute with 300 rounds available (the NSV was replaced by the Kord heavy machine gun in the late 1990s). The PKMT 7.62mm (7.62×54mmR) coaxial machine gun weighs about 10.5 kg while the ammunition box carries 250 rounds (7,000 rounds carried) and weighs an additional 9.5 kg.
Like other modern Russian tanks the 2A46M in the T-90 is fed by an automatic loader which removes the need for a manual loader in the tank and reduces the crew to 3 (commander, gunner, and driver). The autoloader can carry 22 ready-to-fire rounds in its carousel and can load a round in 5–8 seconds.[48] It has been suggested that the automatic loaders on modern T-90 tanks have been modified to take advantage of newer ammunition such as the 3BM-44M APFSDS, which like the US M829A3 penetrates armour better than the previous shorter rounds. HEAT rounds that can be fired from the 2A46M includes the 3BK21B (with a depleted uranium liner), 3BK29 (with a credited penetration of 800 mm RHA equivalency), and the 3BK29M (with a Triple-tandem charge warhead). Additionally the T-90 features the Ainet fuse setting system which allows the tank to detonate 3OF26 HE-FRAG rounds at a specific distance from the tank as determined by the gunners laser rangefinder, improving its performance against helicopters and infantry.Accurate firing range of the HE-Frag-FS 10 km, APFSDS 4 km.
Fire-control system of the T-90 showed the following features of combat shooting during state testing. Heavily armoured targets at ranges of up to 5 km were hit by tank T-90 on the move (up to 30 km/h) with a high probability of hit with the first shot. During state testing made 24 launches of missiles at ranges of 4–5 km and they all hit the target (all missile launches were made by inexperienced professionals), an experienced gunner at speeds of 25 km/h hit 7 real armoured targets located at ranges of 1,500–2,500 m and 54sec.
Fire-control system on the T-90 includes the PNK-4S/SR AGAT day and night sighting system mounted at the commanders station which allows for night time detection of a tank sized target at ranges between 700 and 1100 metres depending on the version of the sight. Early models of the T-90 were equipped with the TO1-KO1 BURAN sight but later models (T-90S) were upgraded to use the ESSA thermal imaging sight, which allows for accurate firing to a range of 5,000–8,000 m using the CATHERINE-FC thermal camera produced by Thales Optronique. The gunner is also provided with the 1G46 day sighting system which includes a laser range finder, missile guidance channel and allows tank-sized targets to be detected and engaged at 5 to 8 kilometres (3.1 to 5.0 mi). The driver uses a TVN-5 day and night sight.[48] In 2010, Russia started licensed production of Thales-developed Catherine FC thermal imaging cameras for T-90M tanks, a Russian daily said.These thermal imagers are also present on T-90M "Bhishma" built in India under licence.

Mobility
The prime mover is the B-92C (V-92S) diesel engine, built in the ChTZ. Different models of the T-90 tank are powered by various motors in its initial models, like the V-84MS 618 kW (840 hp) four-stroke V-12 piston engine, uprated 1,000 hp (750 kW) engines and 1,250 hp (930 kW) engines made by Uralvagonzavod and are delivered by Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant. The Т-90S with 1,000 hp (750 kW) engine can attain a top speed of 60 km/h on the road and up to 45 km/h on rough terrain. T-90 tank has typical drivetrain arrangement, with rear placed engine and transmission. The 1,000 hp (750 kW) engines are V-92 four stroke, 12 cylinder, multi-fuel diesel while 1,250 hp (930 kW) engine is V-96. The T-90 export version i.e. modified T-90S is fitted with increased power multi-fuel 1,000-h.p. diesel engine with turbochargers. The tank is also fitted with an air conditioning system for work in high temperature zones .


Protection
The T-90 is fitted with a "three-tiered" protection system. The first tier is the composite armour in the turret, consisting of basic armour shell with an insert of alternating layers of aluminum and plastics and a controlled deformation section.
The second tier is third generation Kontakt-5 ERA (explosive reactive armour) which significantly degrades the penetrating power of kinetic-energy APFSDS ammunition; these ERA blocks give the turret its distinctive angled "clam shell" appearance. ERA bricks are also located on the turret roof and provide protection from top-attack weapons. The turret's forward armour package, in addition to the ERA and steel plating, contains a composite filler of Russian composite armour sandwiched between upper and lower steel plates. The composite armour results in a lower weight and improved protection when compared with steel-only armour.
The third tier is a Shtora-1 (Russian: Штора-1 or "curtain" in English) countermeasures suite, produced by Elektromashina of Russia. This system includes two electro-optical/IR "dazzlers" (i.e. active infrared jammer) on the front of the turret (which gives the distinctive "Red Eyes"), four laser warning receivers, two 3D6 'smoke' grenade discharging systems and a computerised control system. The Shtora-1 warns the tank's crew when the tank has been 'painted' by a weapon-guidance laser and allows the crew to slew the turret to face the threat. The infrared jammer, the TShU1-7 EOCMDAS, jams the semiautomatic command to line of sight (SACLOS) guidance system used by some anti-tank guided missiles. The smoke grenades are automatically launched after Shtora detects that it has been painted. The smoke grenades are used to mask the tank from laser rangefinders and designators as well as the optics of other weapons systems. Indian T-90S tanks are not equipped with the Shtora-1 countermeasures suite.They will be equipped with the LEDS-150 Land Electronic Defence System.
In addition to the passive and active protection systems the T-90 is also fitted with nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection equipment, KMT mine sweeps and an automatic fire suppression system.The EMT-7 electromagnetic-counter mine system can also be installed on the T-90. EMT-7 emits an electromagnetic pulse to disable magnetic mines and disrupt electronics before the tank reaches them. The Nakidka signature reduction suite is also available for the T-90. Nakidka is designed to reduce the probabilities of an object to be detected by Infrared, Thermal, Radar-Thermal, and Radar bands.
During a reported test conducted by the Russian military in 1999 the T-90 was exposed to a variety of RPG, ATGM and APFSDS munitions. When equipped with Kontakt-5 ERA the T-90 could not be penetrated by any of the APFSDS or ATGM used during the trial and outperformed a T-80U which also took part.During combat operations in Dagestan, there were witness accounts of one T-90 sustaining seven hits from RPGs, and remaining in action.
T-90MS mounts the more advanced "Relikt" ERA. Relikt defends against tandem warheads and reduces penetration of APFSDS rounds by over 50 percent. Relict can be installed instead of Kontakt-1/Kontakt-5.

Variants
T-90 – The first production version.
T-90K – Commander's version of the T-90, with additional communication (station R-163-50K) and navigation equipment (TNA-4-3).
T-90A – Russian army version with welded turret, V-92S2 engine and ESSA thermal viewer. Sometimes called T-90 Vladimir.
T-90AK – Command version of T-90A.
T-90S – Export version of the T-90, later adopted by the Russian Armed Forces as the T-90A. These tanks were made by Uralvagonzavod and were updated with 1,000 hp (750 kW) engines made by Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant. These tanks carry a leaner version of the Shtora-1 passive/active protection system which lacks the infra-red dazzlers carried on the turret. Sometimes called T-90C (Cyrillic letter es looks like a Latin c). These were initially supplied with cast turrets of the early T-90, and when stocks were depleted, new, welded turrets were fabricated.
T-90SK – Commander's version of the T-90S, with additional communication and navigation equipment. It differs in radio and navigation equipment and Ainet remote-detonation system for HEF rounds.
T-90S "Bhishma" – modified T-90S in Indian service.
T-90AM – Latest version of the T-90A.The main features include the modernisation of the old turret design, which is equipped with a new advanced fire control system "Kalina" (with integrated combat information and control systems), a new automatic loader and a new upgraded gun 2A46M-5, as well as a remote-controlled anti-aircraft gun "UDP T05BV-1". The new version also includes the Relikt (Реликт (динамическая защита)) ERA bricks instead of the Kontakt-5 ERA bricks.Other improvements include a new 1130HP engine, an enhanced environmental control system, and satellite navigation systems.
T-90MS – New modernised (M) version of the export tank T-90S, with a 1130HP engine, a PNM Sosna-U gunner view, a 7.62 mm turret UDP T05BV-1 RWS, GLONASS, inertial navigation systems and new explosive reactive armour (ERA). A new removable turret bustle is included, which provides storage for eight additional rounds. T-90MS is ready for serial production.

Derivatives

    BREM-72: Armoured recovery vehicle.
    MTU-90: Bridge layer tank with MLC50 bridge.
    IMR-3: Combat engineer vehicle.
    BMR-3: Mine clearing vehicle.

 

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