T-90 Tank – Complete Failure Or an Impressive Success?

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The T-90 is the Russian Army’s current Main Battle Tank, and it was created from the successful features of the preceding T-72 and T-80 series. It is known to be one of the best-protected tanks in the world and one of the most heavily equipped battle systems.

It is produced by Uralvagonzavod, the Russian machine-building company. The T-90 uses an integrated autoloader, a three-person crew, and a low-profile design, all of which are common to Soviet-era tanks.

Because of its affordability, simplicity, and automotive attributes, the T-72 chassis was chosen as the foundation for the next tank generation. It was first named the T-72BU and then renamed the T-90 to distinguish the new type from existing T-72 variants.

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Source: Vitaly V. Kuzmin / wikicommonsT-72A Tank

It was officially accepted in service in 1992 and had received multiple upgrades. Starting 2004, it was named the T-90A, then from 2016, it was upgraded into the T-90M, and the last upgrade was in 2017, it’s called T-90MS. It also has other less-popular variants.

On 4 May, 2022 it is now confirmed that the T-90 is involved in the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the first T-90M has been destroyed!

What makes the T-90 Popular?

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The low cost of the T-90 is a major selling point. In spite of the higher price of the T-90MS, which is a more recent model, the older, less expensive T-90 models may still be purchased and exported for roughly 2.5-3.5 million dollars.

Compared to many popular tanks around the world, the T-90 is really cheap. And cheap means lower quality. But when you look at the specs, it seems good:

T-90 Specs

  • Mass: 46 tones (T-90)
  • Dimensions: 9.63 m x 3.78 m x 2.22 m
  • Number of crew: 3
  • Top Speed: 60 km/h (37 mph)
  • Full Tank Range: 550 km (340 mi)

These specs are the main reasons why the T-90 is considered one of the best main battle tanks in the world.

Engine

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Source: Nucl0id / wikicommons

Even though each variant of the T-90 is powered by a different engine, they are all powered by V-12 diesel engines. However, each engine produces different power:

  • T-90 Engine Power: 840 hp
  • T-90A Engine Power: 1000 hp
  • T-90MS Engine Power: 1130 hp
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There are seven forward and one backward gear in the automatic gearbox. In addition to six hydraulic vane-type shock absorbers and six road wheels, and three track support rollers per side, each side of the T-90 main combat tank has a torsion bar suspension system.

Armament and Protection

Armament

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The 125mm 2A46M smoothbore cannon of the T-90 is equipped with a thermal sleeve and is stabilized in two axes. The gun tube may be swapped out inside the turret with no need for disassembly.

Armor-piercing discharging sabot, high-explosive anti-tank, and high-explosive fragmentation projectiles are among the cannon’s available ammunition options. As an added bonus, the anti-tank guided missile system 9M119 Refleks (known as the AT-11 Sniper by NATO) may be fired from the T-90 cannon. The missile’s maximum range is 4,000 meters, and it takes 11.7 seconds to get there.

Protection

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Source: armyrecognition

Both conventional armor plates and explosive reactive armor provide protection for the T-90 tank. There are defensive aids included in the Shtora-1 system, made by the Russian company Electronintorg.

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Source: armyrecognition

A laser warning system, grenade discharging system, and a computerized control system are all part of this system. An infrared jammer is also included.

As an added measure of security, it’s outfitted with nuclear, biological and chemical protective gear.

T-90 Drive and Control System

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Source: armyrecognition

The panoramic commander’s sight includes a laser range finder and television channels. The sighting channel can identify the target for a maximum range of 5000 meters.

The thermal channel has a minimum detection range of 3,500 meters. At a maximum range of 7,500 meters, the laser range finder can locate the target.

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Source: defense-update

Sighting and thermal channels, a laser rangefinder, and an onboard laser control channel are all part of the Kalina MBT’s fire control system. A parallel sight with a dependent sighting channel is also part of the fire control system.

It can recognize targets at a minimum range of 2,000 meters during the day and 1,000 meters at night.

Additional features include weather and topographical transmission units and a barrel straightness sensor. Gunner-hunter mode protects the automated target tracking from the gunner’s and commander’s stations.

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Operators around the World

Even though the T-90 tank is produced for the Russian Army, it is not exclusively used by them. The T-90 tank is being exported and sold to many countries around the world:

  • Algeria: It has 572 tanks of the variant T-90SA
  • Armenia: It has more than 30 Units of the variant T-90S
  • Azerbaijan: It has a 100 T-90S tank
  • India: It has a 2078 T-90S tank
  • Iraq: It has 73 T-90S/SK tank

And many other countries have variants of the T-90 tanks. The Russian Army has between 750 – 1000 tanks from all variants of the T-90.

So it looks like this tank is trustworthy to many countries, but why do we still think it sucks?

Why the T-90 Tank is a Big Failure?

There are several reasons why the T-90 is a poor tank compared to current MBTs. The first is that its design is outdated. The T-90, as we have mentioned before, is an improved version of the t72, formerly known as the t72b.

A mix of T80 and other tank pieces have been combined together, and reactive armor has been put onto the end result; this is what the T-90 really is. The t72 was not built to have “box-out box-in” modifications like other tanks like the Abrams, making it difficult to update.

Many flaws, particularly in electrical components, have been eliminated, but they still need to be addressed. Despite all of these improvements, there is still a glaring omission: The Range.

Today’s tanks are capable of striking opposing tanks at a range of up to 5000 meters. But due to the inability to raise the cannon, the T-90 loses this battle.

The tank’s next problem is that it is manufactured with a low-cost mindset. When designing the t72, the Soviet Union was still using the mass-attack tank tactics from World War II. Which the Russian Army is still using now in the Ukraine invasion.

Because the T-90 is only an update, it retains the cheap-built defects, including the armor. To achieve a penetrating shot at a modern tank’s armor, the T-90 will have to get closer to the tank, which makes it vulnerable to attacks.

The T-90 has also been proven to be a big failure in the Syrian civil war and recently in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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When Moscow intervened in Syria in 2015, the Syrian rebels had the American TOW-2A missiles, and here the big scandal happened. Many filmed videos show the Syrian rebels firing the TOW missiles onto the T-90 tank and knocking it out completely.

The Syrian Arab Army has also received 30 T-90 tanks from Russia. Five or six of them have been recorded to be destroyed by wire-guided TOW-2A missiles during the years 2016 – 2017. Source.

Time had passed, but the T-90 remained the same, useless tank! During the recent invasion of the Russian Army to Ukraine, the T-90 was used. Even though it has not yet been recorded to have any T-90 shoot by Ukrainian Army, filmed videos show many Russian tanks being completely destroyed, and maybe the “miraculous” T-90 is among them.

Not only that but many of the T-90 tanks and other Russian tanks have been filmed while stuck in the mud and lost their mobility completely.

This video shows in detail how the T-90 tank works and how it has been developed:

And this video shares with us the same opinion regarding the tank:

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How many T-90 tanks does Russia have?

A: Currently, it is estimated that the Russian Army operates around 750-1 000 of all T-90 variants.

Q: How many T-90s have been destroyed?

A: According to Oryx, it is confirmed that 9 T-90A and 1 T-90M have been destroyed in Ukraine.

Q: How much does a T-90 tank cost?

A: T-90 tanks cost something between $2.5 million to $4.5 million, depending on the variant.

What do you think of the T-90? Is it really a powerful tank? Or do you think it is just Over-Rated?