Russian T-72 and T-90M tanks will detect UAVs at 4 km distance

Across the globe, armed forces are increasingly deploying small unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. These drones are not only used for reconnaissance and adjusting fire on enemy positions, but they’re also proving effective in destroying heavily armored vehicles. 

Russian T-90M tanks crews train to destroy NATO tanks in Ukraine
Photo by Stanislav Krasilnikov

As the role of kamikaze drones in warfare continues to grow, the need for effective protection for armored vehicles becomes increasingly urgent. For Russia, this issue is high on the priority list. 

Recently, news surfaced that Uralvagonzavod, a Russian company, plans to equip the new Russian T-90M tanks with an anti-drone detection and countermeasures system. This system will also be installed on T-72 tanks that have undergone repairs and modernization. The exact nature of the anti-drone system for the upgraded T-90M, however, remains uncertain. 

There are limited domestic options available at this time. One possibility is the integration of an adapted anti-drone system known as Zashtita [Protection]. 

Russian T-72 and T-90M tanks will detect UAVs at 4 km distance
Photo credit:

Roselectronics, a holding company part of Rostec State Corporation, recently announced the completion of work on Zashchita, a mobile anti-drone countermeasure system. This is an improved version of the original system. 

The modernized Zashtita system has an expanded maximum detection range of UAV control signals, from 6 to 8 GHz, with the minimum range remaining at 300 MHz. The system is designed to detect all types of drones and is invisible to enemy radars and resistant to radio suppression. Its round-the-clock recognition and suppression range is from 2 to 4km. 

An updated version of this mobile complex is set to be unveiled at the Army-2023 military forum, as per the press service of Ruselectronics. 

Another potential option is a tank-adapted version of the Sapsan-Bekas UAV detection and countermeasures system, developed by Avtomatika Concern, also a part of Rostec State Corporation. 

Russian T-72 and T-90M tanks will detect UAVs at 4 km distance
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The Sapsan-Bekas complex, too, is capable of round-the-clock surveillance of the airspace. It comprises three subsystems: a system of radio detection, direction finding, and active radar, video and optoelectronic tracking with a thermal imaging channel, and a radio suppression subsystem. It operates in a wide frequency range – from 400 MHz to 6 GHz. 

The mobile version of the Sapsan-Bekas complex can detect Orlan-type drones up to 10 km away and disable them at distances more than 6 km. Small drones can be disabled at a distance of up to 4 km. 

However, if this system is integrated into Russian tanks, it may have more modest characteristics and possibly lack an optoelectronic system. 

The MENA Defense publication reported plans of the Algerian army to modernize its fleet of T-90S / CA tanks, consisting of approximately 600 vehicles. 

New T-90s for Russia: 125mm gun, HE ammo, missiles, space nav
Photo: Uralvagonzavod

As part of the Algerian T-90 modernization program, it is planned to boost the B-92C2 engine, replace the Kontakt-5 dynamic protection modules with Relikt, install a German Rheinmetall active protection complex, and equip each tank with an anti-drone detection and countermeasures system for UAVs with a friend or foe system. 

Based on technical capability studies, the Algerian military plans to install either the Turkish Aselsan Ithar or Sapsan-Bekas from Rostec as the anti-drone system. The cost and timeline of such an extensive modernization effort, however, remain undisclosed.


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