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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Russia's Massive Tank Force

The T-90M “Breakthrough-3” is the third MBT in development. In January 2017 it was reported that all T-90 tanks in Russian service will undergo this modernization. These tanks are receiving deeper modernizations than the T-72B3, with the new 2A82 gun slated to be installed (the current T-90M, T-72B3 and T-80BVM use modernized versions of the original 2A46 gun used on the original designs). The new gun allows for the use of longer rounds, increasing the possible penetration of each shot. The caliber remains the same (125mm), allowing for compatibility with legacy ammunition for other types of rounds. The T-90M also includes an independent commander’s thermal sight for hunter-killer capability. A thermal gunner’s sight is also included, however reports conflict as to the models, with some saying that the sight will be the Irbis-K gunner's thermal sight with all-Russian internal components. However others have pointed out that the T-90Ms on display have only been fitted with the Sosna-U gunner sight and PK PAN commander sight, both of which still include French components. However the Irbis sight has been cleared for production, so it could appear on the T-90M later in production. With regards to protection, the T-90Ms seen in the field use Relikt like the T-72B3 and T-80BVM, however T-90M also makes extensive use of slat armor with slat panels protecting the turret ring and rear chassis. The T-90M also retains the Shtora Active Protection System (APS) from earlier T-90 variants. The distinctive “eyes” that formed the Shtora jamming component are removed, but the capability to detect missile launches and automatically deploy smoke is retained. The T-72B3 and T-80BVM lack this capability. The T-90M is slated to be fit with the improved Malachit ERA, which provides increased production relative to the Relikt ERA present on the T-72B3 and T-80BVM. There are also plans to equip the T-90M with the Afghanit APS. However there have been no photos of T-90M with Afghanit or Malachit (Malachit is recognizable by the increased thickness of the ERA bricks relative to earlier generations of ERA, Afghanit by the sensors and hardkill components).

Charlie Gao studied Political and Computer Science at Grinnell College.

Image: Reuters

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