14 April edition has published a new article with the traditionally loud title of “The T-90 Is Dangerous Weapon. Could It Beat America's Best Tank in Battle? "(" Russian T-90 - Dangerous weapon. Will he be able to win the best tank of America in a battle? ”). As the title suggests, the author of the article, Charlie Gao, tried to compare the latest combat vehicles of the Russian armed forces and the American army. The newest model of modernized Russian-made equipment “participates” in this comparison, and therefore it is of particular interest.
His article Ch. Gao begins with a reminder of the features of the current situation. Tank T-14 "Armata" should become the newest and best tank in Russia, but it is still far from service in the army. In order to reinforce the existing armored forces in anticipation of the “Almaty”, Russia is engaged in the modernization of existing types of tanks, such as T-90. It was recently announced that four dozen such tanks are already being upgraded by the T-90M project, and will be handed over to the customer in the near future.
Ch. Gao compares the Russian modernization project with the American M1A2 SEP v.3, which also provides for an increase in the technical characteristics of the equipment through the installation of a set of new equipment. At the same time, unlike him, while there is no information on the supply of finished samples of T-90M. Remembering the American design, the author asks the question: how to compare two new “pumped” tanks?
The author believes that the new T-90M, unlike the previous Russian tanks, has almost all the features characteristic of modern foreign technology. Machines of past models had a combined day / night commanding sights, while there was no separate system for night work. Now the commander is invited to use your own PK-PAN sight. The gunner also has its own Sosna-U sight with a night channel. There is reason to believe that French Catherine matrices are still used in these instruments. Information about the equipment T-90M sights with thermal modules "Irbis-K" has not yet been received.
The sights of the commander and gunner are connected to the general fire control system, which provides some important opportunities. In particular, the commander, having discovered the target, can “transfer” it to the gunner. According to Russian sources, this opportunity was first implemented on a tank for the Russian army. At the same time, as noted by Ch. Gao, such a function has been present for a long time by the fire control systems of foreign tanks.
Previous modifications of the T-90 were completed with dynamic protection of the “Contact-5” type. In the new project it is replaced by the newest system "Relic". In addition, a kind of mesh or other screen is located on the lower surfaces of the tower and complements the dynamic protection units. This allows you to increase the resistance of the tank to cumulative ammunition. The author of The National Interest notes that in the first photos of the T-90M tank in this area were lattice screens. Later, starting from the autumn of last year, there appears a mesh screen. The grilles are also installed on the aft of the hull, which reduces the risks to the power plant.
There is information according to which in the future T-90M tanks will receive a new “reactive armor” of the “Malachite” type, but images of a combat vehicle with such dynamic protection have not yet been published. Probably the first serial T-90M will not receive such funds.
According to official data, the project T-90M allows you to get an increase in the accuracy of the main gun. However, this feature still uses the 2A46 family system. On the roof of the turret, above the commander’s workplace, there is now a remote-controlled installation with an 12,7-mm machine gun. This product is noticeably higher than previous T-90 tank systems. Ch. Gao believes that, in terms of its capabilities, the Russian combat module is approximately equal to the American systems of the CROWS family.
The upgraded tank retains sensors warning of laser irradiation, and, probably, still carries smoke grenade launchers from the system "curtain". In this case, the spotlights of this complex, resembling peculiar eyes, are removed. According to various estimates, the searchlights were removed due to their low effectiveness in countering modern anti-tank missile systems. At the same time, the active protection “Afganit” developed for the T-14 tank can be used as a new means of increasing survivability. However, as in the case of Malachite, there is still no evidence of the implementation of such proposals.
Ch. Gao notes the improvement in ergonomics in comparison with the previous Russian tanks. In particular, the habitable compartments are now serviced by new air conditioners. The department of management was modernized in order to improve the convenience of the driver. Instead of quite sophisticated in the development and use of levers, traditional for Russian tanks, a compact steering wheel is now used, similar to the equipment of M1A2 tanks. Also T-90M is equipped with a new control system with a self-diagnostic function and improved radio stations.
As the author recalls, the American project M1A2 SEP v.3 provides many innovations similar to those used in the Russian T-90M. As part of this modernization, the Abrams tank receives some improvements to the hull and turret, third-generation thermal imaging equipment in the sights of the commander and gunner, as well as a modified combat module CROWS. It is curious that the machine gun installations of the new type differ from the previous ones in smaller sizes, whereas in the Russian project T-90M a larger product is used.
The M1A2 tank in the SEP v.3 modification retains the existing 120-mm smooth-bore gun. At the same time, a new data channel appears in the fire control system, providing work with modern projectiles of several types. In particular, the M829A4 APFSDS shot can now be used to increase the combat potential. The American project involves the installation of an active protection complex Trophy. Finally, like the Russian design, it offers an upgrade of onboard communication and control systems.
The author of The National Interest believes that in their armament the two newest tanks of the leading countries are approximately equal to each other. The ammunition proposed for use by the M1A2 SEP v.3 project is referred to as a serious innovation, but similar possibilities with projectile programming before the shot were already implemented in one of the Russian projects. Back in the early nineties, the T-90K tank received an Ainet projectile with similar features.
The combat performance of the shells of the two tanks can also be similar. It is claimed that the American product M829A4 is capable of striking tanks with dynamic protection of the third generation, which includes the Relic system. Lattice and mesh screens designed to protect against shaped projectiles, will not be able to hold sub-caliber feathered ammunition.
Ch. Gao believes that the S-Lead armor-piercing shells in service with the past decade, but showing rather high characteristics, remain in the T-90M ammunition. Also, the tank retains the ability to use guided missiles "Invar", to launch which uses a standard weapon. The American tank M1A2 never had such an opportunity, although in theory it is capable of using Israeli-designed LAHAT missiles compatible with its gun.
In the field of observation, according to Ch. Gao, the advantage remains with the American tank. It is completed with a third-generation thermal imaging system of domestic production, while the Russian machine uses imported products. At the same time, T-90М, differing by a smaller combat mass, has a significant advantage in terms of mobility.
The author tried to compare the tanks of two new models in the context of a direct combat collision. He assumes that the presence of Invar guided missiles will not give advantages to the Russian combat vehicle. The tank M1A2 SEP v.3 is equipped with the Trophy active protection complex, which is likely to be able to repel the threat. The Russian rocket flies at a speed of 350 m / s, which corresponds to the capabilities of the Trophy. Moreover, according to the Israeli development company Raphael, the complex is capable of intercepting cumulative projectiles flying at speeds up to 900 m / s.
Getting together in a fight, both tanks are quite capable of inflicting certain damage on each other. Such results, among other things, contribute to the similar accuracy and power of the main armament. Nevertheless, according to Charlie Gao, the crew of the modernized Abrams has more chances to survive. Such survivability should be ensured by placing the ammunition in the aft niche of the tower, which is separated from the habitable compartment by an armored partition and equipped with roof ejection panels. T-90M in this respect corresponds to the traditions of the Soviet / Russian school of tank building. The main part of its ammunition is in the automatic loader and is located on the perimeter of the crew compartment. However, a certain amount of ammunition is now placed in the aft niche of the tower, which is equipped with drop-down panels like the American ones. This led to the fact that the T-90M turret is much longer than the corresponding units of the T-72 or T-90 tanks.
Charlie Gao completes his publication, the purpose of which was to evaluate the latest Russian tank, as well as its comparison with the latest American design, with a simple but logical conclusion. After examining the two newest armored vehicles, he came to the conclusion that the T-90M and M1A2 SEP v.3 would most likely be the winner of a tank with a more experienced and trained crew.
At the moment, the T-90M and M1A2 SEP v.3 projects can be considered the most advanced in their field. At present, even the leading developers of armored vehicles are trying to pay special attention to the improvement of existing vehicles, which allows them to maintain the required combat capability of troops at limited costs. The last steps of the United States and Russia in this direction were two projects for the modernization of production tanks M1A2 Abrams and T-90.
According to the latest data, both modernization projects have already been brought to mass production of equipment. So, in October last year, the American industry announced the completion of equipping the first few M1A2 tanks with the SEP v.3 update package. The assembly of the Russian T-90M tanks began in 2018 year. Until the end of this year, the industry of the two countries will have to transfer to the armies several dozen modernized combat vehicles of two types. In the future, work on the two projects will continue, leading to a noticeable renewal of the fleet of vehicles and an increase in the combat capabilities of the army.
According to known data, the last two modernization projects involve the use of various additional means that positively affect certain qualities or characteristics of the base tank. At the same time, as far as is known, certain parameters reach the highest possible level achievable subject to current conditions and restrictions.
Having serious advantages over the predecessor machines and having a number of common features, the upgraded T-90M and M1A2 SEP v.3 can indeed be equivalent combat vehicles. At the same time, it seems that parity in some areas may coexist with advantages or lags in others. Such a situation in which none of the machines has a decisive advantage increases the role of communication and control systems, as well as the importance of crew training. It is quite possible that the findings of Charlie Gao on the margins of a real battle could be confirmed. However, experienced tankers in any case will have a definite advantage over a poorly trained opponent.
Article “Russia's T-90 Is Dangerous Weapon. Could It Beat America's Best Tank in Battle? ”: