Monday, July 24, 2017

Russia: Syrian conflict bodes well for Russian T-90 sales

(Moscow) It appears that Russia has done really well out of the Syrian campaign, with Russian tank manufacturer UralVagonZavod gaining orders for the T-90 Main Battle Bank from a number of countries: Iraq and Vietnam have secured orders for the T-90 tank and an order with Kuwait is waiting to be finalised. India, which has a fleet of over 1000 T-90 tanks, has ordered another (built in India) 464 T-90M Bhishma main battle tanks, and Iran (yes, Iran) has just placed an order for a "large batch" of T-90M tanks. (So much for their state of the art military industry.) On top of that, Russia is going to build a facility in which to assemble T-90S/SK tanks under license in Egypt. So, from an arms sales point of view, UralVagonZavod has done really well out off the Syrian conflict.

The T-90 is simply the latest iteration of the T-72, in that it has the body of the T-72 and the turret of the T-80. It entered service with the Russian Army in 1992 and there it remained until February 2001 when the Indian Army signed a contract for 310 T-90S tanks: 124 were completed in Russia and the rest are being delivered in "knocked down" form for final assembly in India. That purchase kept alive the T-90 production line, which was followed by sales to Cyprus, Algeria, Uganda, Turkmenistan, Algeria and Azerbaijan. Of late, Syria has been seen fielding the T-90. The T-90S is armed with an 125mm smoothbore gun. However, it is its protection suite which has attracted the most attention. The tank is protected by both conventional armour-plating and explosive reactive armour. It is also fitted with the Shtora-1 defensive aids suite. This system includes infrared jammer, laser warning system with four laser warning receivers, grenade discharging system which produces an aerosol screen, and a computerised control system. Combined they have allowed the T-90 to gain a reputation of being able to survive the anti-tank missiles widely in use inside Syria.

As mentioned, the T-90 is simply the latest iteration of the T-72. It was renamed primarily as a sales pitch, which is why the Russians only has around 350 T-90 tanks in service. On the other hand, it has nearly 2000 T-72 tanks in active service.

Here are a couple of photos, see if you can spot the difference (if you have the time, I can recommend the website of Vitaly Kuzmin who took those photos):



Here's a picture of the T-72B3 which is the standard the Russian Army will be upgrading its T-72s to: