The first army to own the T-90S was India, with the largest numbering up to more than 300 and it was reported that they would continue to buy more even though the Indian tanks were not equipped with the Shtora-1 passive electronic countermeasure system.
Russia’s T-90S main battle tank is now considered one of the most popular modern combat vehicles in the world. There are about 1700 vehicles on the payroll of 8 countries including India, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Venezuela, and Vietnam as the latest name on this list.
According to the media, on the cold winter day at the end of December 2018, the first batch of more than 30 T-90S and T-90SK tanks arrived in Vietnam, these vehicles were shipped from Russia to Vietnam by the Camilla D transport ship. According to some sources, the contract for the purchase of 64 tanks including T-90S and the T-90SK command version of Vietnam was signed in 2016 and completed the final shipment in February 2019. Value of the contract is said to be around 250 million dollars.
Recently, the Vietnamese tank armor force has introduced great images of their new modern T-90S. Before being equipped with the first T-90, the most modern tanks of Vietnamese tanks were Т-62, the exact number is unknown but about a few hundred. The main tanks of Vietnam currently are T-54/55 and Chinese Type 59 obsolete, information on mass media about 1,200 vehicles. In addition, Vietnam also owns about 600 PT-76 and Chinese Type-63 light tanks.
The first army to own the T-90S was India, with the largest numbering up to more than 300 and it was reported that they would continue to buy more even though the Indian tanks were not equipped with the Shtora-1 passive electronic countermeasure system. The original T-90s of the 1990s are now modernized. The new export version is equipped with an improved welding turret, ESSA thermal imaging sight, a more powerful engine and a new powertrain. India is continuing to produce T-90S under Russian license, in increasing numbers.
T-90 tanks themselves can be considered as Russian weapons masterpieces in the 21st century that have been tested on the fierce battlefield in Syria. Basically the T-90S has a low profile similar to the early Russian tanks, most of the details are similar to the original T-90. A low circular turret in the middle of the hull, equipped with both active and passive protection system, makes the T-90S the best protected tank in the world. Depending on the requirements of customers, the T-90S will be further customized with different equipment, its fighting ability is not inferior, even surpassing the T-90A.
Basically, the self-defense system on T-90S consists of 4 layers: the first is the Shtora-1 passive electronic countermeasure system to defend against laser or infrared guided missiles as well as jamming the target guidance systems. The second layer of defense is the Arena-E active protection system, which uses Doppler radar to detect incoming warheads and intercept them. The third layer is an external explosive reactive armor, and finally, the armor is a combination of high-strength steel and composite.
The true power of the T-90S armor is still a secret, but according to some estimates, the T-90A’s front armor has the equivalent strength of 550 to 650 mm of RHA steel when dealing with APFSDS shells or 750 mm with HEAT shells. When equipped with 2nd generation Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armor, this parameter can be increased from 800 to 830 mm with APFSDS and 1,150 to 1,350 mm with HEAT. Other areas of the tank are thinner armor and protection is generally weaker, but it is also difficult to defeat it if using only old-style anti-tank weapons.
The T-90S uses special coatings, made of electromagnetic wave-absorbing material, minimizes sources of thermal, electromagnetic and infrared radiation, making it difficult for enemy reconnaissance devices to detect. In addition, the T-90S is also fitted with NBC protection system, KMT mine sweeps and an automatic fire suppression system.
T-90S has a mass of 46.5 tons, length of 9.53 m, width of 3.78 m, height of 2.22 m. The crew of three with the driver’s compartment at the front, two-man turret in the center and the engine compartment at the rear.
The main weapon of the T-90S is a 125 mm 2A46M smoothbore gun, stabilised in two axes and fitted with a thermal sleeve. This is an upgrade of the Sprut anti-tank gun that has appeared on the T-72 and T-80 models, the gun tube can be easily removed from the tank without removing the entire turret attached. The latest automatic reloading system helps T-90S tanks have a high rate of fire, about 7 to 8 rounds per minute, surpassing most tanks with similar tactical features in the world.
The gun can fire a variety of ammunition, including Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot, high-explosive anti-tank and high-explosive fragmentation, as well as shrapnel projectiles with time fuses.
Another weapon on the T-90S is the 9M119M Refleks anti-tank guided missile system, which NATO calls AT-11 Sniper, it can be launched from the barrel. The 9M119M Refleks missile has a range of 100 to 4,000m, it only needs 17.5 seconds to move to the maximum range. The missile is capable of piercing targets up to 950 mm thick, as well as low-flying air targets such as helicopters.
The T-90S also had several auxiliary weapons, a 7.62mm PKT coaxial machine gun and a 12.7mm air defense machine gun. The anti-aircraft machine gun is controlled inside the vehicle, the gunner can aim while sitting inside the tank without having to stick out of the turret, reducing the possibility of casualties. The gun has a rate of fire of 650 to 750 rounds per minute, a range of 2 km. In addition, the T-90S is also equipped with shotguns and 10 F-1 grenades fitted inside the vehicle compartment for the crew to use in case they have to leave the tank and go out.
The originally T-90 was only equipped with 840 horsepower V-84MS multi-fuel diesel engine. The later T-90S was equipped with the more powerful V-92S2F engine, up to 1,130 horsepower, the power-to-weight ratio reached 23.7 hp per ton. T-90S can reach a maximum speed of 60 km/h, a range of 550 km. The suspension is of the torsion bar type and either side consists of six dual rubber-tired road wheels with the drive sprocket at the rear, idler at the front and three track return rollers. Hydraulic shock-absorbers are provided at the first, second and sixth roadwheel stations. It can cross a trench of 2.8 m and climb a vertical obstacle of 0.85 m. It has a fording depth of 1.5m without preparation.
The superior combat capability of the T-90 is most fully demonstrated in Syria, the Syrian National Army has been equipped with several T-90A tanks. The facts on the battlefield have shown that T-90S tanks have a very high reliability, it can be transported by most popular military transport vehicles.
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In the coming years, the T-90S version will appear in arsenals of many countries. Currently, Egypt, Kuwait and Pakistan are said to be Russia’s next potential customers.