T-90M: Russia’s Most Advanced Tank Has Just Been Deployed in Ukraine

The T-90M and comparable T-90S variants are the most sophisticated and deadly tanks Russia has deployed in Ukraine so far – and they might represent a more significant risk to Ukrainian troops than the old Soviet-era tanks.
t-90m

In this new stage of the war in Ukraine, the Russian army deploys its finest technology. Unlike most of the Soviet tanks which have been deployed, such as the T-72 or T-80, the T-90M is equipped with superior technologies to be highly effective in this brutal war.

And now, we’ll have the chance to see the performance of the T-90M, T-90A, or T-90MS against state-of-the-art anti-tank weapons that are being shipped to Ukraine by its allies on an almost daily basis.

The birth of the T-90

T-90A main battle tank at Engineering Technologies
T-90A main battle tank at Engineering Technologies by Mike1979 Russia. Licensed under CC by 3.0

The T-90 is the first battle tank model produced in the post-Soviet era in Russia and is currently involved in a technological renewal process to measure up to its European and North American counterparts.

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This tank has been in service since 1992, and some of its latest variants, like the T-90MS, started their production in 2017.

It was intended to get Russia back on the map as a major military player, so instead of engineering and manufacturing a new tank from scratch, Russian engineers took the best qualities of the T-72 and T-80 tanks’ existing technology to develop a vastly superior tank.

The T-90 and its technology

Т-90М
Т-90М by Тухачевский. Licensed under CC by 4.0

Current models of the T-90, such as the T-90M or T-90A, are equipped with a night vision target detection system that automatically controls the turret to handle aiming and firing. This way, the gun is turned towards the selected target without the need for a tank gunner.

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T 90 commanders sight
Commander’s sight of a T-90M tank at Expo Army-2018 by Boevaya Mashina. Licensed under CC by 3.0

Also, the tank has a sensor to detect when it is being painted by a laser beam and launches smoke grenades automatically, considerably reducing the likelihood of being hit by a guided missile.

T-90S smoke grenade launchers
T-90S smoke grenade launchers by Vitaly V. Kuzmin. Licensed under CC by 4.0

The main gun comprises a 125-millimeter ammunition gun capable of delivering armor-piercing, high-explosive, and fragmentation projectiles with anti-tank effectiveness.

T-90 specs

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  • Unit cost: From $2.5 million to $4.5 Million
  • No. built: 8,500+ 
  • Length: 9.63 meters (31 feet 7 inches) 
  • Width: 3.78 meters (12 feet 5 inches)
  • Height: 2.22 meters (7 feet 3 inches)
  • Operational range: 550 kilometers (340 miles)
  • Maximum speed: 60 km/h (37 mph)
  • Crew: 3

The T-90 performance in Ukraine

T-90 tank
t90s vessel by Nicknamefqoff. Licensed under CC by 4.0

The T-90 has participated in several wars throughout its years of service, such as the Syrian Civil War and the War in Donbas.

Ukraine couldn’t have adequately dealt with this tank without the help of the United States and its allies, who provided the necessary anti-tank weapons to fight the T-90M.

This tank is far from being one of the best tanks globally, but it has enough advanced offensive and defensive tech to instill fear in the Ukrainian army. However, Russia did not count on the rain of Javelin missiles that would come it’s way.

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The T-90M is the best tank Russia has deployed so far for the war and has already received its welcome and combat christening.

Some of these units have been destroyed, demonstrating that not necessarily by having a better armor it could face the shots of modern weapons like a Javelin or NLAW… and nevertheless, it improves a lot the performance compared to a T-72 or T-80.

The T-90 is not the greatest Russian tank

T 14 prototype from above
Prototype of Russian main battle tank T-14 Armata by Boevaya Mashina. Licensed under CC by 3.0

Russia’s flagship tank is the T-14 Armata. This battle tank began development in 2011 as a completely new platform without any Soviet-era elements.

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Right now, the T-14 Armata only comes in prototypes, and there are not enough of them to be deployed and make a difference in the war. Obviously, Russia won’t be willing to take off the few prototypes it has and risk them on a battlefield where the outcome is uncertain.

According to some reports, Russia has around 20 units of T-14 Armata. However, none of them have entered service due to the rumors that none of them have actually entered operational capabilities.

Once operational, they are supposed to progressively replace the T-72, T-80, and T-90. In fact, the T-90M is the vehicle platform where the Russian Army is testing some of the new features that will later be seen in the T-14.

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The T-90 is the strongest tank Russia has deployed so far – but it is not unbeatable either

Ukrainian troops have already experienced the power of the T-90 for a few years since it was launched in eastern Ukraine in the Donbas War.

It still represents an enormous threat to Ukrainian forces, but with the support of the United States and the rest of the NATO, it is much easier to fight against these tanks since missiles like the Javelin or NLAW make the T-90 not too much of an unbeatable adversary.


Feature image credit: T-90m by mil.ru under CC BY 4.0

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