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30 March 2022

T-90S Main Battle Tank (MBT), Russia

The T-90S main battle tank (MBT) is a powerful Russian tank with increased firepower, mobility and protection.
The first T-90S tank was delivered to the Indian Army in January 2004. Credit: Rosoboronexport.
The T-90S is armed with one 125mm 2A46M smoothbore gun. Credit: Rosoboronexport.
The T-90 tank is fitted with both conventional armour-plating and explosive reactive armour. Credit: Rosoboronexport.
The Indian Army operates 1,100 T-90S tanks, 300 of which were directly procured from Russia. Credit: Rosoboronexport.

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The T-90S main battle tank (MBT) is an advanced version of the T-series of Russian tanks, offering increased firepower, mobility and protection. It is manufactured by Uralvagonzavod, a Russian original equipment manufacturer, in Nizhny Tagil, Russia.

It entered service with the Russian Army in 1992. In February 2001, the Indian Army signed a contract for 310 T-90S tanks; 124 were completed in Russia, and the rest were delivered in ‘knocked down’ form for final assembly in India.

The Indian Ministry of Defence placed a $2.8bn contract with the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) to licence-build 464 additional T-90S tanks at its heavy vehicle factory (HVF), Avadi, for the Indian Army in November 2019.

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Under the contract, Uralvagonzavod and Rosoboronexport, a state-owned Russian defence company, will receive $1.2bn for the technology transfer and OFB will receive $1.92bn for the domestic manufacturing of 464 T-90S tanks. The project is expected to be completed within four years, with an annual production rate of 120 T-90S tanks.

T-90S main battle tank orders and deliveries

The first T-90S MBT was delivered to India in January 2004. The locally assembled tanks were christened ‘Bhishma’. The T-90 Bhishma tanks are fitted with Catherine thermal imagers from French firm Thales, along with the Shtora self-protection system. The first ten Bhishma tanks were inducted into the Indian Army in August 2009. The Indian Army currently operates 1,100 T-90S MBTs, of which 300 were directly procured from Russia.

By November 2007, it was estimated that the Russian Army had around 200 T-90 tanks. In August 2007, Thales was awarded a contract to supply 100 of these with the Catherine FC thermal imager.

In March 2006, Algeria signed a contract for the supply of 180 T-90S tanks from Uralvagonzavod. Algeria also placed an order with Uralvagonzavod for the supply of 200 T-90 MBTs in kit form in 2014.

In November 2006, India ordered another 330 T-90 tanks, which were licence-built by heavy vehicle factory (HVF), Avadi, Tamil Nadu.

Uralvagonzavod delivered 44 T-90S tanks to the armed forces of Uganda in 2011.

The Greek Cypriot Government approved the purchase of 41 T-90 tanks from Russia in January 2009. In March 2010, the government changed its plans and opted for T-80 tanks over the T-90s.

Saudi Arabia placed a $2bn order for helicopters and 150 T-90S MBTs in September 2009. In the same year, Turkmenistan ordered ten T-90S tanks under a $30m contract.

In July 2014, the Government of Iraq awarded a $1bn contract to Uralvagonzavod for the supply of 73 T-90S tanks. The delivery of the tanks began in 2017.

The Vietnam People’s Army (VPA) placed an order for 64 T-90S MBTs in 2016. The tanks were delivered by Uralvagonzavod between 2018 and 2019.

The Egyptian Army placed an order for 500 T-90S tanks in June 2020.

T-90S armament

The T-90S armament includes one 125mm 2A46M smoothbore gun that is stabilised in two axes and fitted with a thermal sleeve. The gun tube can be replaced without any dismantling inside the turret. The gun can fire a variety of ammunition, including Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot (APDS), high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) and high-explosive fragmentation (HE-FRAG), as well as shrapnel projectiles with time fuses.

The T-90S gun can also fire the 9M119 Refleks (NATO designation AT-11 Sniper) anti-tank guided missile system. The range of the missile is 100m to 4,000m and takes 11.7 seconds to reach maximum range.

It is intended to engage tanks fitted with explosive reactive armour (ERA), as well as low-flying air targets, such as helicopters, at a range of up to 5km. The missile system fires either the 9M119 or 9M119M missiles, which have semi-automatic laser beam-riding guidance and a hollow charge warhead. The missile weight is 23.4kg. The guns’ automatic loader can feed both ordnance and missiles.

A coaxial 7.62mm PKT machine gun and 12.7mm air defence machine gun are also fitted. A 5.45mm AKS-74 assault rifle is carried on a storage rack.

Self-protection of T-90S

The T-90 tank is protected by both conventional armour-plating and ERA.

It is fitted with the Shtora-1 defensive aids suite, which is produced by Electronintorg of Russia. This system includes an infrared jammer, laser warning system with four laser warning receivers, grenade discharging system that produces an aerosol screen, and computerised control system.

It is also fitted with nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection equipment.

Fire control and observation

The T-90S uses the 1A4GT integrated fire control system (IFCS), which is automatic but features a manual override for the commander. The IFCS contains the gunner’s 1A43 day fire control system, gunner’s TO1-KO1 thermal imaging sight with a target identification range of 1.2km to 1.5km and commander’s PNK-S sight.

A 1G46 day sight / rangefinder with missile guidance channel, 2E42-4 armament stabiliser, 1V528 ballistic computer and DVE-BS wind gauge comprise the gunner’s 1A43 day FCS.

A TKN-4S (Agat-S) day / night sight, which has identification ranges of 800m (day) and 700m (night) are included in the commander’s PNK 4S sight.

The driver is equipped with a TVN-5 infrared night viewer.

T-90S engine

The T-90S has a liquid-cooled V-84MS 618kW (840hp) four-stroke V-12 piston engine. This engine can be fuelled by T-2 or TS-1 kerosene and A-72 benzine, in addition to diesel. The tank can carry up to 1,600l of fuel in the main fuel tanks and fuel drums. The fuel tanks are reinforced with armour plating.

The tank is fitted with a snorkel for deep fording and can ford 5m of water when prepared with equipment, which can be deployed in 20 minutes.

Primary reduction gear, two planetary final gearboxes and two planetary final drives are included in the mechanical transmission. The running gear features torsion bar suspension with hydraulic shock absorbers at one, two and six road-wheel stations, as well as tracks with rubber-metallic pin hinges.

T-90MS main battle tank

T-90MS is an advanced version of the T-90S tank, which was launched at the Egypt Defence Expo (EDEX)-2021 international arms show in November 2021. T-90MS features a more powerful engine, latest air conditioner, improved electronics and enhanced armour.

The T-90MS tanks successfully cleared the required trials in Latin America and the Middle East in June 2020.

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