All Russian T-90M tanks in Ukraine may have received Telnik shells

Rumors are swirling in the Russian blogosphere, and even among some military insiders, that all of Russia’s T-90M Proryv tanks stationed in Ukraine are armed with the innovative 3VOF128 Telnik tank rounds. However, Moscow remains tight-lipped regarding this matter. Interestingly, it is worth noting that there was evidence of the use of Telnik in Ukraine last October. 

Moscow: T-90M tanks fire cutting-edge shrapnel-exploding shells
Photo credit: Topwar

In contrast, back in October of the previous year, Moscow had officially acknowledged the use of Telnik rounds, while cautioning that it was not a universal undertaking across all T-90 tanks, but rather, a case of selective applicability. This revelation was subsequently corroborated by Russian General Oleg Salyukov, the incumbent Commander-in-Chief of the Ground Forces. 

The tank crew members of the Russian T-90M, operating within the SVO region, reportedly incorporated the groundbreaking high-explosive 3VOF128 Telnik shells into their combat operations aimed at undermining the Ukrainian infantry troops. These particularly remarkable rounds are renowned for their so-called shrapnel-burst or beam-disintegrating characteristics, which enable them to unleash a torrent of predetermined submunitions upon aerial detonation, significantly ravaging enemy ranks.

Moscow: T-90M tanks fire cutting-edge shrapnel-exploding shells
Photo by Maksim Blinov / Sputnik

Telnik has sub-munitions

In a statement last year, Salyukov declared that the T-90M tanks have enhanced their combat effectiveness against enemy forces with the introduction of the innovative Telnik high-explosive shells. These revolutionary pieces of ammunition come equipped with preformed sub-munitions and are engineered to explode at a predetermined location along their path. 

Deploying these high-tech weapons involves a complex process. It includes a customized tank ballistic computer-tailored specifically for this type of shot and its ballistic profile, a device to provide information on the ammunition, a link system, and, of course, the 125-mm 3VOF128 Telnik shot. This unique shot contains a fragmentation projectile designed to detonate in mid-air on its trajectory. 

Moscow: T-90M tanks fire cutting-edge shrapnel-exploding shells
Photo credit: Borba Info

When it comes to power, the Telnik’s capability against enemy soldiers is unquestionable. Reports suggest it’s 6-8 times more potent than the traditional 3OF26 high-explosive fragmentation projectile.


The distance that tank shell debris can travel is heavily influenced by the design and size of the shell itself. For you, this means that even if you’re not in the direct line of fire, you may still be in danger from the shrapnel. Given the speed at which these fragments can travel, taking cover or protecting yourself can pose a significant challenge. 

SMArt 155 penetrates Russian T-90 igniting the charges in the tank
Photo credit: Wikimedia

Russian documents reveal that a specific type of shell, the 3VOF128 Telnik, showers an area with 5.4 kg of debris and pre-arranged fragments upon explosion, offering cone-like coverage of the target area. The mass and dimensions of this shell match that of a typical ZOF26 high-explosive tank shell, providing you with an idea of the potential threat it represents.

Not just physical damage

It’s quite astonishing to ponder how the shattering of tank shells can lead to both tangible damage and psychological trauma. 

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

The abrupt and forceful blast, coupled with the unpredictable path of the fragments, can instill feelings of terror, disorientation, and chaos. What’s even more concerning is that this psychological toll might not be temporary. In fact, it can be long-lasting, often leading to conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] and various mental health concerns. 

Besides, the widespread devastation caused by tank shells can seriously affect the morale of both military units and ordinary citizens. It’s a clear display of the overwhelming force and destructive potential that is characteristic of today’s warfare.

T-90M fires guided missiles

Imagine this – the Russian T-90M tank is a formidable force, capable of firing an array of guided missiles that greatly enhance its combat prowess. Its go-to weapon is often the 9M119 Refleks [AT- Sniper] anti-tank missile. 

This missile boasts a respectable reach of up to 5 kilometers. It’s specifically designed to penetrate the thickest of armors, employing a laser beam riding guidance system to ensure precision targeting even at considerable distances. 

Interestingly, the T-90M tank also can launch the 9M119M Refleks-M [AT-11B Sniper-B] missile. This is an upgraded version of the original Refleks missile, offering an extended range of up to 6 kilometers. Its enhanced armor-piercing capabilities make it particularly effective against heavily armored targets.

Russia was quietly killing T-90 tanks until India came along
Photo credit: Telegram

Anti-tank missiles, too

Within the T-90M tank’s arsenal, not only will you find anti-tank missiles, but also the 9M119 Svir [AT-11C Sniper-C] missile. What sets this missile apart is its proficiency in downing low-flying helicopters and aircraft. With an outstanding range of up to 10 kilometers, this missile utilizes a semi-automatic command-to-line-of-sight guidance system. This groundbreaking system provides the operator with direct control, guiding the missile to its target via a joystick. 

Let’s delve into another weapon within the T-90M tank’s inventory, the 9M119M1 Invar-M [AT-11 Sniper-BM] missile. This missile is engineered specifically to target and demolish armored targets, boasting a range of up to 5 kilometers. Its unique feature? A tandem warhead. This advanced component enables it to penetrate the reactive armor systems commonly found on contemporary tanks. Moreover, the missile’s laser beam riding guidance system, assures unerring accuracy when aiming at targets.

UAVs adjust T-90M tanks firing, new batch supplied to Russian army
Photo credit:


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