New T-90s for Russia amid sanctions, tank production tripled
The Russian Army has acquired new T-90M and updated T-72B3M tanks from the Uralvagonzavod defense manufacturer. This follows earlier reports of large-scale delivery of T-90Ms due to increased production.
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The Russian Industry and Trade Ministry states these deliveries respond to the military’s need for advanced and reliable equipment. Uralvagonzavod has been particularly successful, tripling its output in the past year and supplying the latest T-90M Proryv and advanced T-72B3M tanks for use in special military operations.
Uralvagonzavod’s CEO, Alexander Potapov, confirms the company’s ability to quickly supply new equipment to the military. He highlighted the quality of the tanks, which have been commended in Russia’s operations in Ukraine since February 2022.
Increased domestic demand
Uralvagonzavod, the largest tank plant globally, has maintained a high output despite slow domestic demand before 2022, largely due to export demand for the T-90 from Algeria and India.
Domestic demand for new T-90M tanks rose rapidly in 2022 due to older tank losses in Ukraine and increasing tensions with NATO, putting additional pressure on Russia’s defenses.
Notable Russian figures, including President Vladimir Putin and former President Dmitry Medvedev, have praised the T-90M as the world’s highest-performing tank. It surpasses all other tanks in Russian service with its superior gun, munitions, armor protection, and sensors.
Forecasts for 2023 indicate the Russian Army will acquire over 1000 T-90M tanks – a significant increase from the rates from 1992-2022. The army will also receive upgraded versions of older tanks, including the T-72B3M and improved models of the T-62s.
‘The sanctions are absurd’
In a captivating display of defiance against the West, the Russian military-industrial enterprise from Nizhny Tagil recently showcased a glimpse of their round-the-clock tank production process on their Telegram account. The video reveals the intricate craftsmanship involved in the assembly of the T-90 and T-90M Proryv hulls.
The video was released by UralVagonZavod as a bold retort to the anticipated new sanctions from the West. In a statement accompanying the video, the account moderators declared, “There is talk again about the next sanctions. We don’t care for stories – we work day and night.”
A year into Russia’s invasion, the EU is now targeting new “Russian and Iranian economies” sanctions that attack Moscow. The Kremlin’s response? An official dismissed the sanctions as “absurd”, adding, “This is all absurd. One sees that they [the EU] subject everyone to sanctions just to make new lists,” said Kremlin spokesman Mr. Dmitry Peskov.
The effectiveness of these sanctions on Russian arms production, however, is a subject of debate. Blessed with abundant minerals, materials, and raw materials, Russia seems well-equipped to weather the storm. A deeper analysis reveals that UralVagonZavod may continue to churn out its world-class products, sanctions or no sanctions.
Why don’t sanctions stop T-90 production?
Take the fire control system of the T-90M Proryv, for instance. It’s a sophisticated assembly of a ballistic computer, day, night, and thermal imaging channels, force and wind sensors, barrel bending sensors, a control panel, and an interface with a multi-function indicator. The system is based on the digital station R-168-25U-2 Aqueduct, a product that constituted 40% of Russian production in 2000. By 2017, the station was already 80% Russian.
While some components like processors and microchips are imported, Russian engineers have been proactive in finding domestic equivalents. The 5578TC084 or 5578TC064 chips, for example, serve as suitable replacements for foreign brands like Xilinx and Altera.
The LSD modules in the T-90M, such as PMF 5.1 or its upgrades, are a testament to the ingenuity of the Instrument Design Bureau [UKBP]. These modules are built on a local software and hardware platform, with the “heart” being a dual-core processor of the KOMDIV64-M series [1890VM8Ya] 0.8 – 1 GHz.
While some foreign-made products like controllers and RAM/ROM memory microchips are used in these modules, they can easily be supplied by companies from Malaysia and China. Other essential chips like ROM, ADC, DAC, microwave chips, or BIS controllers of the KN587IK1 type are all manufactured locally at Angstrem JSC.
The tools used by the mechanic driving the tank are a blend of modern and vintage, reminiscent of the 80s and 90s. The MBT speed indicators and other major readings are displayed on a LED-based steering wheel panel, a feature that’s not difficult to manufacture domestically.
The mechanic’s information and control system is another interesting feature. Despite being a carryover from the T-72B3 and older versions of the T-90, the system efficiently processes data from the MTO sensors, providing vital information like coolant temperature, oil level, and malfunction alerts.
The T-14 remains a mystery
When it comes to Russia’s next-gen tank, the T-14 Armata, it’s unclear if sanctions have had any impact. The tank boasts advanced iterations of the components mentioned above, all produced in Russia.
The Afghanit active defense complex, shrouded in secrecy, could potentially be impacted by the sanctions. However, with no information or images about the KOEP [a complex of optoelectronic suppression] sensors, it’s impossible to identify if any foreign components are used.
Based on the unified designs of Russian weapon systems, it appears that nothing hinders UralVagonZavod from producing not only the T-90M Proryv but also the T-14 Armata. The timing of the T-14’s development coincides with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, causing UralVagonZavod to focus on the more immediate needs, namely the production of the T-72B3 and T-90M.
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