Vaunted T-90M tank uses outdated power units inherited from T-72

MOSCOW, RUSSIA — The vaunted Russian T-90M Proryv tanks have their flaws as well as their merits. The designers of the T-90M tank like to brag about the long range of the 125mm gun, as well as the explosive reactive armor [ERA]. A Russian lethal weapon that is not nearly as modern as the Russian ground experts are trying to make us out to be.

Russia lost a unique T-90M Proryv tank hit head-on by an AT-4
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For example, the engine and transmission of the T-90M are really ugly. It is still the same as the T-72. The same B92C2 1130 horsepower diesel engine as the T-72B3M. It has a low rear gear, inability to center the steering, classic manual gear shifting. You have to use both your hands and feet to change gears, which is very inconvenient. It’s like driving a car with a manual transmission.

In order to feel the difference, we will not compare a Russian tank with a Western tank, but with a Chinese one. The Type 99A is a tank that is close in design to the Russian T-90M. The Type 99A was developed to a generally accepted Western design. Another question is whether the T99A engines are a Chinese development or a copy of a Western engine. But it is a fact that if the T-90M has 1,130 horsepower, its Chinese “brother” gets 1,500 horsepower under the hood.

Moreover, the 99A tank has an integrated drive design and consists of a hydraulic transmission. It has stepless speed control, high-speed reverse and central steering capabilities. This power-plant is the 99A’s biggest improvement over the old version. Engineers have fixed past flaws.

China's 4th-gen main battle tank may only have a two man crew
Photo credit: Reddit

Now that we have started comparing the power units of the Type 99A with the Russian T-90M, let’s continue. It is a little-known fact, but the vaunted Russian T-90M is not nearly as powerful as Russian experts would like. The T-90M operates with outdated power units inherited from the T-72. This is an all too obvious shortcoming of the Russian war machine.

In addition, disassembling and assembling the T-90 engine takes a lot of time. According to Russian sources, the disassembly and assembly of the T-90M engine takes 3.5 hours [T-80 – 6-8 hours].

In the conditions of actual military operations, these hours may increase. Let’s recall that some time ago we showed the difficult field conditions in which a Russian assembly team was working on repairing damage to heavy armored vehicles from the war in Ukraine. Last year, Russian sources even claimed that T-80 and T-90 tank repairs were impossible in real field combat conditions. We remind you that as the main problem Russian sources pointed out precisely difficulties with engine repair.

What is the situation with the Chinese Type 99A tank? According to Chinese sources, the Type 99A tank uses modular units when changing engines. This method of replacement is certified on Western manufactured tanks. Thus, Western tanks, including the Chinese Type 99A, can change an engine within up to 30 minutes in rapid operation, and about 45 minutes – an hour in normal operation.

New batch of eight 'naked' T-90 tanks is on its way to Ukraine
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According to Russian sources, Moscow is ready to return to the old Soviet concept of a multi-thousand tank fleet. This means that in conditions of war with another country, Russia will produce what it has. Thus, at least as long as the war in Ukraine continues, the T-90M is not expected to receive new developments in the field of power units or transmission.


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