The T-90 is the newest main battle tank (MBT) in service with the Russian
Ground Forces. It is a further development of the T-72, with some of the
features from the T-80. This new variant of the T-72 was originally called T-
72BU but after poor performance of the T-72 in combat in the Persian Gulf
War (especially against western tanks such as the M1 Abrams, M60 Patton,
Challenger 1) and in the First Chechen war it was decided to rename it to
improve its chances on the export market.
The T-90 with an 840 hp (630 kW) engine went into low-level production in
1993, based on a prototype designated T-72BU. The T-90 was developed by
Russia's Kartsev-Venediktov Design Bureau at the Uralvagonzavod factory in
Nizhny Tagil. The T-90 features a new generation of Kontakt-5 explosive
reactive armor on its hull and turret. Two variants, the T-90S and T-90E,
have been identified as possible export models.
By September 1995, some 107 T-90 tanks had been produced, located in the
Siberian Military District.
1999 saw the appearance of a new model of T-90, featuring the fully welded
turret of the Obyekt 187 experimental MBT instead of the original T-90's cast
turret. This new model is called "Vladimir" in honour of T-90 Chief Designer
Vladimir Potkin, who died in 1999. It is unknown how this design affects the
protection and layout of the turret, or whether the tank's hull armour layout
Currently, there are 241 T-90 tanks serving in the Russian Ground Forces's
5th Guards Tank Division, stationed in the Siberian Military District, and
seven T-90 tanks in the Navy. On May 15, 2006, Deputy Defense Minister
Alexander Belousov announced that along with other purchases, some thirty
new T-90s will be produced for the Russian Army.
The T-90S version is in service with the Indian Army, and the local production
of T-90S Bhishma tanks will start in India in 2006--2007?? Bhishma (also
spelt as Bishma) is a character from the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. In
2001, India bought 310 T-90S tanks from Russia, of which 120 were
delivered complete, 90 in semi-knocked down kits, and 100 in completely-
knocked down kits. T-90S were made by Uralvagonzavod and the upgraded
1,000-hp engines were delivered by Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant. The T-90 was
selected because it is a direct development of the T-72 which India already
employs, simplifying training and maintenance. India bought the T-90 after
the delay in production of the domestically developed Arjun main battle tank,
and to counter Pakistani deployment of the Ukrainian T-80UD in 1995--97.
The deal between India and Russia, estimated at a value of USD $750 million,
also included the complete transfer of T-90 technology and weapon systems
to India. With Russian and French assistance, India developed an improved
version of T-90S, known as the Bhishma. However, India has reported that
problems have arisen with the French-designed thermal sights used on the
T-90 due to intense desert heat. In 2006, the Indian Government awarded the
Ordnance Factory Board a USD $2.5 billion deal to manufacture 1,000 T-90
Bhishma tanks for the Indian army. On October 26, 2006, India signed
another deal with Russia for 800 million USD for 330 T-90S tanks.
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