The Russian Army Gets a New Tank: Cheap, Sophisticated, and Deadly

2018 is the year the Russian Army will add a new main battle tank (MBT) to its arsenal. The vehicle will eventually replace the aging T-90 and T-90A. At least one tank battalion (31 vehicles) will be reequipped with the new T-90Ms (Proryv-3s) within a period of few months. The lessons of the war in Syria have been learned and that invaluable experience has been put to good use.

This vehicle is different from the T-90MS version, which is produced for export, and they should not confused. The T-90M and the T-72B3M, a new machine that was tested during the Zapad 2017 Russian-Belarusian strategic military exercise, will have complementary functions and operate as mainstays of the Russian tank force. They could be used for different types of missions.

The T-90M is armed with both a 125mm 2A46M-4 smoothbore cannon, which is capable of firing standard artillery shells, as well as Refleks AT-11 Sniper-B anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) with a range of 4-5 km. Those can hit helicopters flying at low altitude. They can hold 40 rounds of ammunition. The carousel-type autoloader can carry 22 rounds. A removable turret bustle can store eight additional rounds. The Proryv-3 can fire while moving.

A panoramic sight with a thermal imaging system can be used to detect and identify targets. The armament suite also includes a NSVT 12.7mm machine gun (MG) and PKT 7.62mm coaxial MG. A remote control makes it possible to fire the MGs from inside the MBT without exposure to enemy fire.

The MBT has a crew of three: a commander, a gunner, and a driver. Its combat weight is 50 tons and ground clearance is 450 mm. The Proryv-3 can reach a speed of 60 km/h with a range of 550 km.

The Kalina fire-control system incorporates a multichannel gunner's sight. A target can be identified at a range of 5,000 m. The minimum range for target identification through the thermal channel is 3,500 m. An object can be identified by the rangefinder at 7,500 m. Thanks to its digital communications system, the tank is an important element of a tactical network.

The T-90M boasts a new composite armor. The Relikt ERA (Explosive Reactive Armor) covers the front and each side of the all-welded turret to provide protection against tandem warheads and greatly reduce the probability (by over 50%) of penetration by armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding-sabot (APFSDS) rounds. If a bomb is detonated outside of the vehicle, the charge is designed to fire outward, away from the hull and turret of the Proryv-3.

The ERA is easy to repair. Its rubber side skirts with built-in armor plates, cage armor and a special net to boost protection, NBC equipment and automatic fire suppression systems all boost its survivability under combat conditions. The interior is lined with spall liner. The Shtora-1 countermeasures system offers protection from anti-tank guided weapons with semi-automatic guidance. The Proryv-3 also sports a magnetic mine detection system that disables mines via an electromagnetic pulse before the vehicle runs them over.

The MBT is powered by the new V-92S2F turbocharged multi-fuel diesel engine. It is capable of delivering 1,300 hp. Unlike other engines used to power Russian tanks, this one is comes with an automatic transmission. The T-90M is equipped with an auxiliary power unit that can power all systems whenever the main engine is not operating. The Proryv-3 is fitted with a self-entrenching blade, and an emplacement can be prepared in 12-40 minutes. The tank can be equipped with a mine plow and a deep wading kit, enabling it to ford water obstacles as deep as five meters.

The T-90M is one of a kind. It has excellent “layered” armor: the basic armor is made up of varying composite and metal materials installed on top of one another. The explosive that is sandwiched between the two armor plates is what makes ERA really unique. The suite of self-defensive features is fairly robust. All these attributes greatly enhance the Proryv-3’s odds of survivability under contemporary combat conditions against the most sophisticated weapons systems. The use of lasers greatly improves the efficiency of the fire-control system. The unique defensive elements combined with superior firepower makes the new tank a deadly war machine. Uralvagonzavod has something to be proud of. Cheap and deadly, the T-90M really showcases what the Russian defense industry can do.