Armored hardware expert Sergei Suvorov assessed the modern state of the Russian tank forces. He told Izvestia daily that the latest in the Russian army tank pool are T-90A, T-80UE-1 and T-72B3 tanks. The Russian tanks are not inferior to modern western analogues in most combat characteristics and exceed them is several parameters. The mentioned tanks are not new vehicles but a modernized family of T-72 / T-90 and T-80. Actually the West has not been producing new tanks for a long time either.
Russian main battle tank T-80UE-1
The modernization of western-made tanks mostly focused on increased automatic controls which are definitely a major combat characteristic. To increase fire power and protection the upgraded Leopard, M1 Abrams and Leclerc received a remotely controlled guided machinegun. The T-90 had such a weapon yet in 1993 and now it is installed also on T-80UE-1.
As for automatic crew controls, they considerably increased after the installation on modern domestic tanks of new radio stations of the R-168-25U-2 type which operate in data transmission regime. They properly operate also in conditions of large-scale radio-electronic warfare.
All modern Russian tanks are equipped with targeting and monitoring devices equipped with a thermal imaging channel. The quality of thermal imaging cameras installed on Russian tanks is not inferior to western analogues. The guided missile firing range of Russian tanks is two times (1.5-fold at night) longer than the efficient range of the main foreign tanks which means a considerable advantage in fire power.
As for the use of conventional artillery munitions, the Russian tanks are on par with German and French analogues and ahead of the American. 120mm smoothbore American cannon M-256 is a licensed copy of the German Rh120/44 Rheinmetall gun with a 44-caliber bore designed in the late ‘70s of the past century and unfit for new munitions which create much bigger gas pressure in the loading chamber of the cannon.
Russian main battle tank T-90A
Modern Russian tanks are armed with 2A46M-5 guns which are adapted to fire modern high-power shells.
Western designers increase the protection of the main tanks by equipping them with additional armored steel modules or composite armor mostly on the frontal part. Therefore, the weight of the tanks exceeded 70 tons, their frontal part is overweight which ruins running gear elements in cross-country motion. The average speed of the tanks also decreased. The latest conflicts clearly show that a slowly moving or stationary tank quickly becomes easy prey for antitank forces and tank pointers.
The protection of modern Russian tanks is ensured by new types of active armor, such as Relikt and Contact 5. Besides, they are equipped with barred slat armor and active armor complexes.
At the same time the fire power, protection, mobility and command controls of the latest T-14 tanks on the heavy tracked unified Armata platform and modernized T-90M is much higher than of modern and perspective foreign designs, expert Sergei Suvorov writes in Izvestia.