T-90M is undoubtedly the best tank in service with the Russian Armed Forces. It has gained a lot of attention after its introduction to the conflict in Ukraine. But even though it is miles ahead of other Russian tanks like T-72B3, it still has a lot of problems. The newest Russian T-90M "Breakthrough" tank is not a completely new model, but rather a modernization of the T-72. It received the name T-90 exclusively for marketing reasons, because during development it was called T-72BU (or "object 188").
Tank T-90M "Breakthrough" received a fundamentally new turret, different from the serial, and a more powerful engine. "Breakthrough" is equipped with a new multi-channel sight, providing the use of weapons at any time of the day, and one of the main features of the modernized tank was the ability to exchange data with other vehicles in real time. The T-90M armor is equipped with a special coating that protects against threats, similar to that used on the latest T-14 Armata.
Serial deliveries of the modernized T-90M Breakthrough-3 tank to the Russian army will begin in 2020, said the head of Uralvagonzavod Alexander Potapov. “Yes, you understood correctly,” Potapov answered the journalist’s question about the start of deliveries. The words of the head of the holding are quoted by Interfax 13 February 2020. Potapov refused to name the number of machines ordered by the Russian Defense Ministry: "This topic is not for the outside world."
The upgraded T-90 was developed as part of the Breakthrough-3 development project. Its task was to deeply modernize the T-90 with an improvement in its combat and operational characteristics. The tank received a new turret with a modernized cannon, which is also installed on the T-14 Armata. A new gun and an improved fire control system allow the use of a wide range of ammunition - including armor-piercing shells of increased power. Automation provides search, recognition, tracking and hitting targets, regardless of the time of day or weather conditions.
T-90M Proryv-3 main battle tank is an upgrade of T-90AM / MS Proryv-2, it is expected to fill the gap in the Russian Army when T-14 Armata is not really ready. The T-90M model 2017 also nicknamed Proryv-3 (Breakthrough-3) is an upgraded variant of the export version of the T-90MS Main Battle Tank (MBT). Russia's new production of T-90M Proryv-3 tank was considered by skeptics to be excessive and unnecessary, especially when its production cost is quite high and there are still some weaknesses.
The plan to upgrade T-90A tanks serving in the Russian Army according to the configuration of T-90S/SK that UralVagonZavod factory built for Iraq was considered a better solution as of 2019. The T-90 is the main tank of the Russian army, produced at Uralvagonzavod. It is a deep modernization of the T-72B. The first modification of the T-90 was adopted in 1992.
Revealed in 2011, the Proryv 2, also known as T-90MS, was a comprehensive upgrade for the ageing T-90 platform. In March 2017 Russia’s Uralvagonzavod corporation (the world’s largest battle tank manufacturer) released a new version of the Soviet-Russian T-90 battle tank – the T-90M Proryv-3. It’s estimated that around 2,000 T-90s were currently being used by various armies across the globe. The ageing T-90 and T-90A were still in service with the Russian Armed Forces, while the BMS equipped T-90AM remained a small percentage of the total fleet.
Initially, the T-90M was expected to enter a mass production phase, to play a key role in the Russian Army's tank armies, while T-14 Armata had not yet completed development. However, after the monumental introductions, there had not been signs that the Proryv-3 was about to be built on a large scale. One reason is that Russia was focusing on modernizing T-72 to T-72B3 to maintain the ground forces backbone, along with the program to upgrade 3,000 T-80BVs to T-80BVM. The trend of Russian customers was leaning on was still putting more trust in the T-90S variants. Therefore, the T-90M Proryv-3 was at great risk that will not be mass-produced but existed only in the form of a prototype similar to T-90MS Proryv-2.
Uralvagonzavod’s upgrade meant the tank, first produced at the end of the 20th century, can now compete with the most advanced models in the world. At 50 tonnes, the T-90M would be the heaviest of the legacy Soviet/Russian tank. Every upgrade of the T-90 has crept its mass upwards from the original 46 tonnes to to 48 tonnes in the T-90MS. The addition in armor mass would eventually be offset by a more powerful engine of nearly 1,300hp, giving it 26 hp/tonne.
External observations indicate that the reactive armor layout structure (ERA) and the infrared noise lamp in the T-90M turret are rather different from the T-90MS. In addition, the ERA blocks on the turrets of the T-90M Proryv-3 are more angled. The 7.62 mm remote control machine gun is replaced with a larger 12.7 mm weapon. And the weather sensors of the T-90M have moved down to a position lower than the T-90MS.
Key distinction of the vehicle from the previous versions is a new turret design with ammo stowage rack located beyond combat compartment. Moreover, the tank is equipped with the modernized 125 mm 2A82-1M gun (the same as the T-14 Armata ) with extended barrel and new fire control system. The new tank constitutes an adaptation of previous in-depth upgrade projects of T-90 to requirements of the Russian military.
The turret of the T-90M Proryv-3 uses a gun borrowed from the T-14 Armata – the 2A82-1M. The T-90M's 125-mm main cannon has a longer barrel than the popular 2A46M-5 on modern Russian tanks, giving it the ability to accurately shoot and deploy many powerful ammo. But the odd design with the T-90MS’ turret meant that the rounds in the bustle can only be conveniently accessed from the outside. After firing the 22 rounds on the carousel, the crew will need to exit the tank to retrieve ammo from the top of the bustle. It has a remote-controlled large-caliber machine-gun firing 12.7 mm Kord-MT rounds. By harnessing modern technology the designers have boosted the tank’s accuracy of fire by 25 to 30 percent and its barrel life to 900 rounds.
In addition to the standard munition package, the T-90M has also been equipped with three types of tailored ammunition. The first is the Vacuum-1 armor-piercing discarding sabot round with a depleted-uranium core. The designers say that in flight the projectile reaches a velocity of 1,980 mps and can rip through a meter of tank armor. The second is the Telnik high-explosive fragmentation warhead, which can be detonated remotely by the tank crew. And, thirdly, there’s the Sprinter guided missile, the trajectory of which can be adjusted in flight.
Unlike the export version of this series, the T-90MS tank, which has much in common with this machine, the T-90M is equipped with, among other things, anti-cumulative grilles installed under the dynamic defense Relic in the frontal part of the turret; and slightly reinforced shelves in the front.
The T-90M’s body is covered with a modern modular reactive armor kit – the Relikt – which eliminates enemy projectiles a meter from the tank. Protection for the lower part of the turret and the rear of the body is provided by slat armor, and the firing compartment has been reinforced with an anti-shrapnel cover. According to the manufacturers, the tank’s armor will ensure the vehicle and crew are protected from a strike by a tank round from any direction. At the same time, the tank’s radar visibility has been considerably reduced.
One of Uralvagonzavod’s main objectives was to increase the tank's mobility on the battlefield. The T-90M has been given a new 1,130 hp diesel engine and an automatic transmission gearbox. Now the 50-ton battle machine can travel at 70 kph, and the crew will be able to enjoy the ride while steering with a wheel instead of several levers.
Russian propaganda TV channel Zvezda, operated by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, aired a preview to a TV show set to demonstrate capabilities of a new Russian tank T-90M "Proryv 3". During live-fire test, the target chosen for the T-90M was the Ukrainian-made T-64 BM Bulat tank, which is in service with the Ukrainian army. It has not been specified why it was the Ukrainian tank that had been chosen for the show.
The T-90M Proryv-3 main battle tank (MBT) finished its state trials in 2019.
The delivery to the Russian army of the last batch of 65 T-90M Proryv tanks, stipulated by the contract for 2021, will be completed by the end of the year, the Russian Defense Ministry told reporters 26 November 2021. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko visited Uralvagonzavod in Nizhny Tagil, where he checked the production of T-14 Armata and T-90M Proryv tanks, and also held a meeting on the development of armored weapons and equipment of the Ground Forces. "By the end of the year, it is planned to deliver the last batch of 65 Breakthrough tanks planned for this year. About eight T-90M tanks will be delivered," the Defense Ministry said.
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