Warzone decoded: How Ukraine has fractured Russia's feared T-90 tank

 | Updated: May 08, 2022, 04:00 PM IST

The T-90 tank is believed to be Russia's most advanced tank which was incorporated into the Army two years ago.

Russia's famed T-90 takes a hit

Russia has been using its heavy arsenal against Ukraine including hypersonic missiles in the war which started on February 24 as President Putin declared his "special military operation" against Kyiv.

However, Ukraine has fought fiercely and destroyed many tanks and weapons used by Russian forces. In fact, reports claim Russia's famed T-90 has been destroyed by Ukrainian forces.

A T-90 tank was destroyed in Ukraine’s Kharkiv Oblast region. Russia's defence ministry said the tank was hit by the American Javelin anti-tank missile system near Izyum.

The T-90 tank is believed to be Russia's most advanced tank which was incorporated into the Army two years ago. Reports claim just Russia has just around a hundred models the of the sophisticated tanks in service.


T-90 has advanced armour protection, upgraded ammunition

The T-90 tank was first spotted late last month in the Kharkiv Oblast region although Russian forces tried to conceal it. Russian tanks especially the T-72 and T-80 had suffered reverses during the war with experts pointing to design flaws with the tank's turret coming under fire.

Russia's  tank the T-90 has advanced armour protection and built-in explosives and has smoke grenade launchers with an upgraded ammunition handling system and a remote weapon station.


Ukraine's T-64 battle tank

Ukraine uses the T-64 battle tank with a crew of three which entered into service in 2005 with a range of 385km. It was built in the former Soviet Union and entered service in the 1960s.

Ukraine operates the upgraded 47 Bulat MBTs which entered into service in 2011. It has a 125mm smoothbore gun and can operate in day and night condictions. It also possesses 12.7mm anti-aircraft machine gun and has composite armour for the turret and the hull.

The Ukrainian forces also have Soviet-made T-72 main battle tanks.


Russia's T-14 Armata

Reports say Russia has 12,400 tanks which is the largest in the world with Ukraine possessing 2,586 tanks. Ukraine has 74 T-64 tanks against Russia's 2,000.

Ukraine also has 3,666 T-72 tanks however Russia has nearly twice that number at 9,950. Clearly as far as size is concerned the tank strength of the two countries is greatly mismatched.

Russia has in fact developed the T-14 Armata and has already produced 2,300 even since it was unveiled in 2015. It was battle-tested in Syria. It has state of the art laser-guided missiles with Kord 12.7mm and PKTM 7.62mm machine gun.

The T-14 can reportedly withstand nuclear, biological and chemical attacks. Russia currently has 20 T-14s which could prove to be a big hurdle for Ukraine's forces.


Ukraine loses tanks in Crimea tussle

The Russian forces had reportedly deployed 1,200 tanks before the invasion in various sectors across the border with Ukraine which included the T90s and T-72s.

Ukraine had said earlier that it had lost at least 440 tanks between 2014 to 2016 to Russian fire as Putin seized Crimea. Reports claim Ukraine has been upgrading its battle tanks for some years.


Russia's mammoth tank squad in 1992

According to SIPRI, Russia had a mammoth 52,660 tanks in 1992 just after the breakup of the former Soviet Union which dwindled to 13 290 in 2017.

Every year Russia conducts a large number of military exercises of varying sizes, it says, adding that these include large joint-service exercises with foreign partners, staff war games, exercises of specific services and combat readiness inspections.

Russia has held more than 10 000 military exercises since 2014. Clearly, its forces have been in combat readiness for several years.

Since 2014 a significant number of military exercises have been held in the Southern Military District, including military training on the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, it informed.


Cold War & Russia, NATO tank strength

As the Cold War began to wind down in 1989, NATO had 11, 829 battle tanks with 5,000 belonging to the US however the Warsaw Pact countries had a mammoth 29,305 tanks with the former Soviet Union having 18,180 tanks, according to a RAND report.

Poland’s tank fleet has dropped from about 1,700 at the time of its accession into NATO in 1999 to just under 1,000 by 2016, of which about three-quarters are obsolete T-72M variants.

A Rand report highlighted that in 2017 NATO had positioned 129 battle tanks in active units or near Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with Russia deploying 757 of its tanks.


Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missile

As a potential means of reinforcing its troops, Russia has been recruiting thousands of Syrian army personnel and allied militia fighters for possible deployment in Ukraine.

Ukraine has repeated a call to Western leaders to supply Kyiv with advanced weapons to fight Moscow's slowly advancing troops, one month after their invasion.

As Ukraine resists the superior Russian forces, Reuters quoting  three US officials with knowledge of the intelligence informed that United States assesses that Russia is suffering failure rates as high as 60 per cent for some of the precision-guided missiles it is using to attack Ukraine.

Reuters was however unable to independently verify the figures even as the US officials  did not provide evidence to support the assessment and did not disclose what precisely was driving high Russian missile failure rates.