The centerpiece of the Russian display at Defexpo 2012 is undoubtedly the T-90MS upgrade program developed by the Russian Uralvagonzavod corporation. The T-90MS upgrade was unveiled August 2011 at Nizhny Tagil, Russia following the demise of the T-95 program. It is making its international debut here in New Delhi. India is likely to be the most interested in the the Russian upgrade, put forward by Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport as a possible upgrade path for the Indian ‘Brishna’ (T-90S) tanks.
India is the largest operator of the T-90S, along with Russia. The Indian Army has fielded about 450 of these tanks, with 300 more on order. Other T-90 operators are Azerbaijan, Cyprus (45) and Venezuela (92). Earlier in 2012 it was announced that Algeria has bought 120 of these tanks.Additional 30 were acquired by Turkmenistan. These small deliveries could be the result of the collapse of the Libyan order, which was never fulfilled.
The Indian Army had planned to equip its 59 armored regiments with 1,657 T-90S main battle tanks, 1,000 of which were to be Indian-made. However, production and import of T-90S tanks has been slow, hence, the opportunity to improve the T-90 through the manufacturing line, maintaining the T-90 effectiveness for upcoming years. The T-90MS offers improvements in every important element – protection, mobility and firepower, in addition to improving sustainability and reliability while reducing operating cost. Since the contract was signed back in 2001 the Indian Heavy Vehicle Factory (HVF) in Avadi, Chennai has assembled only 150 T-90S (of a thousand planned). Implementing the T-90MS package will enable future production series to deliver better, more capable main battle tanks instead of gradually obsoleting platforms.
The proposed tank upgrades include improved automotive components, enhanced protection by reactive, passive and countermeasure systems improving the tank’s protection against guided missiles; the firepower enhancements rely on comprehensive modernization of the turret systems, including a new automatic fire control system, stabilized day/night sights and auto-tracking capability, and the use of the 2A46-M5 improved 125mm gun offering better accuracy and reliability, compared to existing 125mm guns. It also has a remotely controlled 7.62mm machine gun.
Automotive improvements include the high efficiency V-92S2F diesel engine and automatic transmission and steering wheel control linkage. The upgrade kit includes attachments for a new type of add-on protection armor, including turret and hull frontal and side reactive panels and slat armor grills protecting the exhaust, filters and sprockets. An aramid liner is also employed to reduce internal damage from splinters and flux in case a penetration occurs.
The tank uses early warning threat sensors and countermeasure to protect the tank over 360 degrees. The system relies on two types of detectors, offering coarse threat detection over 270 degrees (sides and rear of the turret), employing instant multi-spectral smoke screen, while the fine threat detectors are employed over the turret’s frontal 90 degree arc, driving electro-optical countermeasures.
Another feature contributing to the T-90MS survivability is the separation of ammunition from the fighting compartment. Part of the ammunition is stowed in special compartments separated from the turret by a blast door. The ammunition is manually loaded into the magazines, from where they are automatically served by the autoloader.
The ‘Kalina’ optronics system features three new EO devices – the gunner’s sight has a two-axis stabilized field of view, integrating multiple optical channels including a dual mode (day/night) CCD and thermal channels, a laser rangefinder (LRF) and another laser channel supporting missile guidance. The EO system is coupled with a video processing system, performing automatic target tracking to improve moving target engagement. The commander position is equipped with a new independent panoramic sight featuring two-axis field of view stabilization integrating the daylight, thermal and LRF channels. The panoramic sight also provides target acquisition and control for a new, remotely operated weapon mounted on top. A backup parallel sight fixed on the cannon line of sight and optional peripheral video surveillance system covering 360 degrees of the tank’s perimeter. The optical muzzle reference unit further augments the weapon’s accuracy.