Russia’s T-90MS Cutting Edge MBT Offers Bright Prospects

Russia’s T-90MS Cutting Edge MBT Offers Bright Prospects

IDEX is the only international defense exhibition and conference in the Middle East, North Africa region. It takes place every two years in Abu Dhabi, the UAE, since the inauguration in 1993. Russia has taken part in all 13 IDEX events, including the 2017 exhibition held on Feb. 19-23. This year, Russia exhibited more than 240 weapons and military equipment for all branches of armed forces, many of which showed high combat effectiveness in Syria. The T-90MS Tagil main battle tank stood out as a big success.

Russia’s Uralvagonzavod scientific-production corporation is ready to export the latest variant of the T-90 main battle tank. «…The serial production is set up in the interests of both Russia’s Ministry of Defense and foreign customers. The technological processes that allow increasing of the serial production volumes have been fine-tuned», said Alexei Maslov, the special representative of Uralvagonzavod - the T90MS manufacturer.

According to Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov, Russia has signed a major contract for the supply of T-90MS tanks to a country in the Middle East. «Over these two years, as expected, a number of tests have been carried out in several Middle East countries. In December, a major contract was signed with one of Middle East countries. There are plans to sign another contract soon», the official said at the IDEX 2017 exhibition. The T-90MS tank has been tested over two years in several Mideast countries. Russia’s defense manufacturer Uralvagonzavod CEO Oleg Siyenko has said the T-90MS has large prospects on the Mideast arms market. The armored vehicle has successfully passed tests in Kuwait, he added.

The T-90A variant was deployed to Syria in 2015. In early February 2016, the Syrian Army 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 TOW-2A missile in Aleppo. The first alleged footage of the targeted tank showed only minor damage to Shtora-1 jammer optics and expended ERA as the result of TOW missile hit. For all the videos coming out of the Syrian civil war, a one minute, 31-second clip of a US-made TOW missile slamming into a T-90 tank got more attention than most. The T-90MS has even more advanced protection compared to the T-90A version to reduce the anti-tank systems’ chances to stop it.

The Tagil is a modernized version first revealed in 2011, with a 1130HP engine, a PNM Sosna-U gunner view, a 7.62 mm turret UDP T05BV-1 RWS, GLONASS, inertial navigation systems, Relikt explosive reactive armor (ERA) and steering wheel.

The MBT has a crew of three, including commander, gunner and driver. The combat weight of the tank is 48,000kg. It can accomplish a speed of 60km/h and a range of 550km.

Side skirts of Relikt ERA provides protection against tandem warheads and reduces penetration of armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding-sabot (APFSDS) rounds by over 50%. The Shtora-1 countermeasures system significantly reduces the chance of being hit by enemy anti-tank guided weapons with semi-automatic guidance. The MBT is fitted with NBC protection and automatic fire suppression systems. The Tagil’s interior is lined with spall liner. The tank can incorporate an optional air conditioner cooling unit and an auxiliary diesel generator producing a minimum electric power of 7kW.

The T-90MS includes a collective PKUZ-1A NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) protection system, and is also fitted with opto-electronic screening system, electromagnetic protection system and quick-action fighting equipment.

The armament suite includes the new 125 mm high-accuracy smoothbore gun to fire APFSDS, HE, HE-Frag and 9K119 Refleks (AT-11 Sniper-B) anti-tank guided missiles. With a range of 4-5 km, the Refleks missile can engage low-flying helicopters. Ammunition supply for the main gun is 40 rounds. 22 rounds are stored in the autoloader and are ready to use. A new removable turret bustle is included, which provides storage for eight additional rounds.

The T-90MS uses a proven carousel-type autoloader. Remaining rounds are stored in a new turret bustle rather than a crew compartment in order to avoid risks of explosion.

Secondary armament consists of 7.62mm 6P7K anti-aircraft machine gun on a remotely controlled weapon station mounted on top of the turret to destroy stationary and moving targets. It can carry 2,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition and 800 cartridges. Operators are protected by armor. Six smoke-grenade dischargers are also fitted on each side of the turret. The tank features an enhanced dual-axis weapon stabilizer with electro-mechanical power traverse and electro-hydraulic power elevation.

The MBT features the new Kalina fire control system, which incorporates the multichannel main gunner's sight consisting of sighting and thermal channels, laser range finder, built-in laser control channel and a parallel sight with dependent sighting channel. The tank can identify targets at a minimum range of 2,000m during day and 1,000m at dusk. Guidance is automatic.

There is a panoramic sight with thermal vision to detect targets. It features television and thermal channels and a laser range finder. The sighting channel can identify the target at a maximum range of 5,000m. The minimum range for target identification through the thermal channel is 3,500m. The laser range finder can identify the target at a maximum range of 7,500m.

The T-90MS is powered by a new V-92S2F turbocharged diesel engine, developing 1 130 hp. The engine is coupled with an automatic transmission with 7 forward and 1 reverse gear. This feature is unique. All other Russian tanks were fitted with manual transmissions. The tank features torsion bar suspension integrating six hydraulic vane-type shock absorbers, as well as six road wheel and three track support rollers per side. The MBT is fitted with auxiliary power unit, which provides power for all systems when the main engine is turned off.

The T-90MS can ford at a depth of 1.8m. With a deep wading kit attached 20 minutes, the tank can ford water obstacles up to 5m deep. The Tagil is also fitted with a self-entrenching blade and can prepare itself an emplacement within 12-40 minutes, depending on the ground type.

Last year, India pre-approved a $ 2 billion contract for purchase of 464 Russian T-90MS Tagil tanks.

2016 was a successful year for Russia in terms of military-technical cooperation, despite the difficulties that occurred because of Western sanctions. Russia has sold combat aircraft and main battle tanks to China and India and made arms deals with the likes of Malaysia, Burma, and Algeria. It has focused its recent arms-sales efforts on Latin America.

On September 6th, 2016, Sergey Chemezov, the head of the State Corporation Rostec, said at the Army-2016 forum that the orders of Rosoboronexport, the sole state intermediary for Russian arms exports, exceed $46 billion. Russia has made considerable progress in follow-on services to clients.

According to SIPRI, Russia is the second-largest state supplier of arms, accounting for a 23% share. Russia is «in lockstep» with the US in the development of advanced weapons. An estimated 70% of Russian arms go to India, Vietnam, China and Algeria. The T-90MS has got off to a good start. It will significantly boost the Russia army capabilities, while offering bright prospects for exports.