The T-90M Proryv is now the greatest tank in the Russian Army’s arsenal. The tank has already proven itself superior to the T-72 by actively participating in Ukraine’s conflict. The T-90 is more agile and fast than the T-72 and is equipped with superior armor and a cutting-edge fire control system.
Russia almost stopped making T-90s, a subject that rarely comes up. Moscow’s leadership has indeed scrapped more than a few successful weapons programs throughout the years. The brief history of the T-90 presented by UralVagonZavod demonstrates that, without India’s unexpected intervention, the T-90 would not have survived in Russia for very long.
T-90 Tank Was Born
Beginning in the 1990s, UralVagonZavod poured its engineers’ knowledge into developing and fielding the T-72. Mr. Vladimir Potkin once oversaw the engineering staff. The T-72 chassis, however, caught his eye as a promising technology for the future. He and his group so resolved to devote resources to creating a new main battle tank.
Conceptualization of the T-90 began. Soon after, the tank’s fabrication and assembly began. After much debate, Russian President Boris Yeltsin chose to put the new T-90 tank into service in 1992.
Having something other than T-72s in their arsenal was a first for the Russian military. Both static and dynamic shields were standard on the T-90. Both the 1A45T Irtysh firing control and the PNK-4S targeting system were brand-new developments.
In contrast to the T-72, Potkin gave the T-90 a range of up to 5,000 meters. He did this by equipping the T-90 with the 9K119 Reflex weapon control system. According to UralVagonZavod, the TSHU-1 system is the first-ever comprehensive optical-electronic suppression system installed in a tank.
Consequently, serial manufacture of the T-90 began in 1993, the year after it was admitted into service. The tank has already won praise from tankers and was eagerly anticipated. The T-90 did not get combat experience too late. The conflict in Chechnya began in 1995, two years later. Moscow dispatched T-90 to the front lines. The tank was nearly impervious to Chechen weapons.
Despite its tremendous performance in Chechnya, Russia has no plans to increase its investment in this tank. The motives of the “wise heads” in the Kremlin for this abrupt retreat remain unclear to this day. UralVagonZavod slowly perished in the absence of tank orders. Neither domestic nor international. The T-90 project was about to conclude.
India Came Along
When UralVagonZavod appeared to be behind the horizon, India sprung up. New Delhi has carefully tracked the T-90’s effectiveness in Chechnya. The Indians reportedly held the Russian engineer in high esteem due to his intelligence.
At that precise moment, India needs a highly capable tank. At this point, Pakistan had already taken action, which left the Indians in a state of shock. Islamabad had just bought 320 Ukrainian T-80UD tanks. The government in New Delhi ought to have responded expeditiously and properly. They started by making contact with the Russians as their initial step.
They started out with a T-90 as their primary tank of choice. However, the standard model of the T-90 that was already in use was not something they desired. They were solely interested in purchasing a brand new T-90 tank for the requirements of the Indian Army. They envisioned Potkin as the head designer and wanted to hire him.
Potkin had one condition: it could take up to 2years for the Indian design to be made, during which time three prototypes would be sent to India to be tested in the desert. The chief designer took a risk that was almost a gamble, says UralVagonZavod. Potkin wasn’t the one who would go to the Indians without results.
Where It All Started.
For Potkin, It was difficult to start. He knew to do what he wanted, but he didn’t have any resources. Since Moscow refused to continue purchasing T-90, most of the chain supply stopped producing important materials.
In this way, the first six months of the Indian project were the most challenging due to the complexity of organizing supplies. The previously halted production has resumed, and new units are constantly being developed and tested. Constant breakdown, flaws, etc.
But that’s in the first six months. After that, everything falls into place. Potkin’s team did their best; Instead of 24 months, the tank took 12. Three T-90S tanks completed the toughest testing in the Indian Thar desert on May 17, 1999. T-90 Bhishma was born. This resurrected the Russian tank industry.
Meanwhile, the development of India’s Arjun tank has fallen behind schedule. The hydro gas suspension mechanism failed. The Indian military will receive a T-90 tank that is far lighter than the standard Arjun tank. The T-90 weighed in at 45 tonnes, while Arjun, which was still being integrated, reached 75.
The T-90, which is a “Frankenstein” combination of the T-72 and the T-80, has proven to the Indians that it does not require an update for at least ten years. Training for the T-90 can now be completed in a fraction of the time it once did.
Potkin provided India with a tank with upgraded armor and equipment and a more powerful engine than the Russian T-90. Added to the T-90 Bhishma were laser warning receivers and a jamming system.
The T-90 Bhishma had a 125 mm 2A46M smoothbore cannon with a thermal sleeve and a muzzle detector, which could fire various projectiles. The Indians would be able to use their main gun to fire HE, Frag, HEAT, APFSDS, and ATGM ammunition. A 12.7 mm and 7.92 mm machine gun are installed on the roof for supplementary fire.
The Russian T-90 at the time relied on a night sight with a range of up to 700 meters. The Indians wanted more, and Potkin gave them an improved night sight with a range of 1,100 meters in pitch darkness, fog, or sandstorms. Moreover, the gun and night sight was designed to be stable while the tank was moving.
Potkin gave the Indians a tank that could submerge to a depth of 5 meters. The Indians acquired a tank whose armor was constructed of hardened steel with composite inserts in the front of the turret. An additional layer of explosive armor ERA bricks was further integrated.
The T-90 Bhishma has become the flagship of the Indian Army. Moscow realized that the T-90 was a tank that had a future. So he decided to facilitate its production by giving a license to the Indian industry to manufacture it. Thus the T-90 Bhishma was born. However, it is more correct to say – this is how the new Russian tank industry was born.