Debut: April 2015



.: Pat McCumiskey's T-90 Main Battle Tank





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"Straight from the box. Brilliant!"


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2013 Moscow Victory Day Parade (28).jpg
Russian Army T-90A tank on display during parade festivities in May 2013.
Type Main battle tank
Place of origin Russia
Service history
In service 1993–present
Used by See Operators
Production history
Designer Kartsev-Venediktov
Manufacturer Uralvagonzavod
Unit cost $2.5 million in 1999,[1] $2.77 – 4.25 million USD in 2011 (varies by source)[2] T-90MS: 4.5 Million
Produced 1992–present
Number built 2,251+
Weight 47.5 tonnes (46.7 long tons; 52.4short tons)
Length 9.63 m (31 ft 7 in)
Width 3.78 m (12 ft 5 in)
Height 2.22 m (7 ft 3 in)
Crew 3


Steel-composite-reactive blend

vs APFSDS: 550-650mm, with Kontakt-5 = 800–830mm; vs HEAT: 1,000mm with Kontakt-5 = 1,150–1,350mm[3][4][5]
2A46 125 mm smoothbore gunwith ATGM capability; mainly9M119 Svir
12.7mm Kord Heavy machine gun,7.62mm PKMT

Model 84 V-84 12-cyl. diesel
V-92 12-cyl. diesel
V-96 12-cyl. diesel
840 hp (618 kW) for V-84 12-cyl. diesel engine
950 hp (736 kW) for V-92 12-cyl. diesel engine

1,250 hp (930 kW) for V-96 12-cyl. diesel engine

18.1 hp/tonne (13.5 kW/tonne) for V-84 12-cyl. diesel engine
20.4 hp/tonne (15.8 kW/tonne) for V-92 12-cyl. diesel engine

26.3 hp/tonne (19.8 kW/tonne) for V-96 12-cyl. diesel engine
Suspension Torsion bar
550–700 km (340–430 mi) (depending on type of engine)
Speed 60–65 km/h (37–40 mph) (depending on type of engine)

The T-90 is a Russian third-generation main battle tank that is essentially a modernisation of the T-72B, incorporating many features of the T-80U (it was originally to be called the T-72BU, later renamed to T-90). It is currently the most modern tank in service with the Russian Ground Forces and Naval Infantry. Although a development of the T-72, the T-90 uses a 125mm 2A46 smoothbore tank gun, 1G46 gunner sights, a new engine, and thermal sights. Standard protective measures include a blend of steel, composite armour, smoke mortars, Kontakt-5 explosive-reactive armourlaser warning receiversNakidka camouflage and the Shtora infrared ATGM jamming system. The EMT-7electromagnetic pulse (EMP) creator has been used in testing but not fitted to T-90s in active service.[6] It is designed and built by Uralvagonzavod, in Nizhny Tagil, Russia. Since 2011, the Russian armed forces have ceased ordering the T-90, and are instead waiting for the development of the Armata Universal Combat Platform that is expected to enter service in 2016.[7]


By 1992, the Russian Ministry of Defence announced that it could no longer afford to manufacture two main battle tanks in parallel.[8] Since both the "quality" T-80U and the cheaper "quantity" T-72B were being built at different plants, and each plant was critical to the economy of its city, the government gave small orders to both. Omsk built five T-80Us and Nizhny Tagil built fifteen T-72s, and both built more in the hopes of winning large export orders. Nizhny Tagil had built a few T-72BAs, T-72Bs upgraded with a third generation add-on explosive reactive armour (ERA) called Kontakt-5, which was already in service on the T-80U.[8]

To further improve the T-72's export prospects and its chances of being selected as Russia's sole production main battle tank, the T-80U's more sophisticated fire control system was also added to produce a vehicle designated T-72BU. The T-90 was developed by the Kartsev-Venediktov Design Bureau at the Uralvagonzavod factory in Nizhny Tagil. The production model is based on the T-72BM, with some added features from the T-80 series.[8]

The T-90 with an 830 hp (620 kW) engine went into low-level production in 1993, based on a prototype designated T-88. It features a new generation of Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armour on its hull and turret. Of conventional layout, the T-90 represents a major upgrade to every system in the T-72, including the main gun.[8] The T-90S have been identified as export model. The references to a T-90E appear to be unsubstantiated.[8] The T-90 is fitted with a "three-tiered" protection system: the first tier is the composite armour in the turret, second tier is third generation Kontakt-5 ERA and third tier is a Shtora-1 countermeasures suite.[8]

T-90s were used in combat for the first time during the invasion of Dagestan in 1999.

Production and service history

A T-90 during a military exercise in Russia, demonstrating underwater driving

The Russian Defence Ministry made a selection of a single main battle tank (MBT) in 1995.[8] The T-80 was more expensive and its delicate, fuel-hungry gas turbine engine provided a questionable advantage. In addition, the older T-80BV tanks performed poorly in urban combat in the First Chechen War.[9]

By September 1995, some 107 T-90 tanks had been produced, located in the Siberian Military District.[10] By mid-1996 some 107 T-90s had gone into service in the Far Eastern Military District.[11]

1999 saw the appearance of a new model of T-90, featuring the fully welded turret of the Object 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.

A Russian Army T-90A

The T-90A saw combat action during the 1999 Chechen invasion of Dagestan. According to Moscow Defence Brief, one T-90 was hit by seven RPG anti-tank rockets but remained in action. The journal concludes that with regular equipment T-90A seems to be the best protected Russian tank, especially if the Shtora and Arena defensive protection systems are integrated in it.[12]

In 2007, there were about 334 T-90 tanks serving in the Russian Ground Forces' 5th Guards Tank Division, stationed in the Siberian Military District, and seven T-90 tanks in the Navy.[13] Some 31 new T-90 tanks were expected to enter service in 2007, and 60 in 2008.[13]

The Russian Federal Service for Defence Contracts (Rosoboronzakaz) announced in July 2008 that a new tank (which rumour has previously referred to as the T-95) was due to be introduced in 2009, but development was cancelled in May 2010.[14]

Russia is developing a new Armata Universal Combat Platform (also known as Armata) to be ready for use by 2015[dated info]. It is expected to have a more powerful engine, improved armour, main gun and autoloader, with ammunition storage separated from the crew.[15]



Indian Army's T-90 Bhishma tanks take part in a military training exercise in the Thar Desert, Rajasthan. The tanks have two different turret armour arrays.

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. The T-90 was selected because it is a direct development of the T-72 that India already employs with 60% logistics commonality with T-90 simplifying training and maintenance. India bought the T-90 after the delay in production of the domestically developed Arjun main battle tank, and to counter Pakistani deployment of the Ukrainian T-80UD in 1995–97. These tanks were made by Uralvagonzavod and the updated 1,000 hp (750 kW) engines were delivered by Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant. These tanks however did not feature the Shtora-1 passive/active protection system though there are reports that a separate contract for shipment of a modernised version of this suite is being discussed.[16]

A follow-on contract, worth $800 million, was signed on October 26, 2006, for another 330 T-90M "Bhishma" MBTs that were to be manufactured in India by Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi, Tamil Nadu.

The T-90M Bhishma (named for the almost invincible warrior in the Mahabharata) is a customised, improved version of the T-90S, which India developed with assistance from Russia and France, with both of whom India has very close ties. The tanks are equipped with the French Thales built Catherine-FC thermal sights[17] and utilises Russian Kontakt-5 K-5 explosive reactive armoured plates.[18] Kontakt-5 (K-5) ERA in its export variant provides a protection level of 1.2 [20%] against Kinetic Energy (APFSDS) rounds and 1.7–1.8 [70 %] against Chemical Energy rounds (Tandem HEAT). Semi-active baffle plates and ceramic layers with high tensile proprieties are employed in T-90 base armour. Even more advanced armour composition was implemented in the welded turrets of domestic T-90s and on export T-90 Bhishma tanks for India. In several tests conducted in front of an Indian delegation the latest foreign M829A2/KEW-A2 APFSDS ammunitions were fired from 250 metres against a T-90S lacking the normal built-in explosive reactive armour (ERA) Kontakt-5 (K-5) The turret proved completely impenetrable, which proved to be crucial in selling the T-90 Bhishma MBT to India.[19]

In April 2008, the Indian Army sent a request for proposal to RafaelBAE SystemsRaytheonRosoboronexportSaab, and IBD Deisenroth Engineering for an active protection system for the T-90S Bhishma.[20] The contract is expected to be worth US$270 million. Saab's LEDS-150 won the contract in January 2009.[21]

A third contract, worth $1.23 billion, was signed in December 2007 for 347 upgraded T-90Ms, the bulk of which will be licence-assembled by HVF. The Army hopes to field a force of over 21 regiments of T-90 tanks and 40 regiments of modified T-72s. The Indian Army would begin receiving its first T-90M main battle tank in completely knocked-down condition from Russia’s Nizhny Tagil-based Uralvagonzavod JSC by the end of 2009.[22][23]

The T-90M features the 'Kaktus K-6' bolted explosive reactive armour (ERA) package on its frontal hull and turret-top (the T-90S has 'Kontakt-5' ERA), is fitted with an enhanced environmental control system supplied by Israel's Kinetics Ltd for providing cooled air to the fighting compartment, has additional internal volume for housing the cryogenic cooling systems for new-generation thermal imagers like the THALES-built Catherine-FC thermal imager (operating in the 8–12 micrometre bandwidth).[22] In all, India plans to have 1,640 T-90 tanks in service by 2018–2020.[24]

The first batch of 10 licence built T-90M "Bhishma" was inducted into the Indian army on August 24, 2009. These vehicles were built at the Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi, Tamil Nadu.

10000 crore (US$1.6 billion) purchase of 354 new T-90MS tanks for six tank regiments for the China border has been approved[25] which would take the total number of T-90 tanks in the Indian Army's inventory to 2011 and with a total of nearly 4500 tanks (T-90 and variants, T-72 and Arjun MBT) in active service, the world's third largest operator of tanks.

India plans to have 21 tank regiments of T-90s by 2020, with 45 combat tanks and 17 training and replacement tanks per regiment, for 62 total each.[26]

On 17 September 2013, India's Defence Ministry approved the production of 235 T-90 tanks under Russian licence for $1 billion.[27]

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