"Knowledge is power."
Altank's Reviews: Chapter IX, The T-90A.
2. -In-game overview.
3. -Development and upgrades.
4. -How to get the best out of it (Role) and How to deal with one (Countermeasures).
6. -Special thanks.
Patch 1.22 version; last update: 06/08/15.
By 1992, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that it could no longer afford to manufacture two main battle tanks in parallel: the "quality" T-80U and the cheaper "quantity" T-72B. Russian authorities had, in fact, begun debating the merits of producing and operating two similar-yet-different concurrent MBT solutions; therefore, since both of them were being built at different plants, and since each plant was critical to the economy of its city, the government's focus fell onto developing a modernized version of the T-72 with key qualities of the T-80 to overtake the aging pair of fighting vehicles.
As a result, small orders of improved versions of these tanks were ordered. Nizhny Tagil built a few T-72BAs, T-72Bs upgraded with a third generation add-on explosive reactive armour (ERA) called Kontakt-5, which was already in service on the T-80U.
To further improve the T-72's export prospects and its chances of being selected as Russia's sole production main battle tank, the T-80U's more sophisticated fire control system was also added to produce a vehicle designated T-72BU. Some other features from the T-80 series were subsequently added, and the new fighting vehicle was designated T-72BM.
Based on a prototype designated T-88, which was in turn based on the T-72BM, the T-90, with an 830hp engine, was finally developed by the Kartsev-Venediktov Design Bureau at the Uralvagonzavod factory in Nizhny Tagil and went into low-level production in 1993.
The year 1999 saw the appearance of a new model of T-90, featuring the fully welded turret of the Object 187 experimental MBT instead of the original T-90's cast turret. This new model is called T-90A or "Vladimir" in honour of T-90 Chief Designer Vladimir Potkin, who died in 1999. It is unknown how this design affects the protection and layout of the turret, or whether the tank's hull armour layout was changed.
The T-90A saw combat action during the 1999 Chechen invasion of Dagestan. According to Moscow Defense Brief, one T-90 was hit by seven RPG anti-tank rockets but remained in action. The journal concludes that with regular equipment T-90A seems to be the best protected Russian tank, especially if the Shtora and Arena defensive protection systems are integrated in it.
2. -In-game overview:
The T-90A is one of the highest-tier tanks in the game, once fully upgraded; since the in-game T-90A groups also the earlier versions of this unit, the tank features a fairly low price, compared to the other higher-tier units', of 10000 silver coins (this purchase option is unlocked once reaching rank 36, Captain Grade 1) or of 640 gold coins (this purchase option is unlocked once reaching rank 32, First Lieutenant).
The T-90A has the second highest level among the tanks in the Soviet/Russian line and the third highest level among all the units featured in the whole Soviet/Russian tech tree; following in its line the T-80, starting at level 47 and reaching level 68. The highest-tier unit being the Black Eagle MBT and the second highest-tier one being the TOS-1A MLRS.
3. -Development and upgrades:
T-90A's starting stats:
Reloading speed: 2.9
Turret rotation speed: 20.0
Damage per minute: 6579.3
Fully upgraded T-90A's stats:
Reloading speed: 2.4
Turret rotation speed: 30.0
Damage per minute: 11500.0
- Hull upgrades: two-tier hull upgrade available.
The T-90A features a two-tiers hull upgrade; both of them are required in order to acquire most of the other upgrades and don't change the tank's appearance; as of patch 1.22.
3.2 -Health pool:
- Health pool upgrades: four-tier upgrade available.
Even though the T-90A features a four-tier health upgrade, because of the tank's extremely low starting health pool, the resulting final amounts of hitpoints remains definitely below average and very low, considering this MBT's tier.
3.3 -Armour and active protection system:
- Passive armor upgrades: three-tier upgrade available.
- Reactive armor upgrades: three-tier upgrade available.
- Spaced armor upgrades: two-tier upgrade available.
- Active protection system upgrades: three-tier upgrade available.
The T-90A is fitted with a "three-tiered" protection system.
The first tier is the composite armour in the turret, consisting of basic armour shell with an insert of alternating layers of aluminum and plastics and a controlled deformation section.
The second tier is third generation Kontakt-5 ERA (explosive reactive armor) which significantly degrades the penetrating power of kinetic-energy APFSDS ammunition and also these ERA blocks give the turret its distinctive angled "clam shell" appearance. ERA bricks are also located on the turret roof and provide protection from top-attack weapons. The turret's forward armour package, in addition to the ERA and steel plating, contains a composite filler of Russian composite armour sandwiched between upper and lower steel plates. The composite armour results in a lower weight and improved protection when compared with steel-only armour.
The third tier is a Shtora-1 (Russian: Штора-1 or "curtain" in English) countermeasures suite, produced by Elektromashina of Russia. This system includes two electro-optical/IR "dazzlers" on the front of the turret (which gives the distinct Red Eyes), four Laser warning receivers, two 3D6 aerosol grenade discharging systems and a computerized control system. The Shtora-1 warns the tank's crew when the tank has been 'painted' by a weapon-guidance laser and allows the crew to slew the turret to face the threat. The infrared jammer, the TShU1-7 EOCMDAS, jams the semiautomatic command to line of sight (SACLOS) guidance system of some anti-tank guided missiles. The aerosol grenades are automatically launched after Shtora detects that it has been painted. The aerosol grenades are used to mask the tank from laser rangefinders and designators as well as the optics of other weapons systems. Indian T-90S tanks are not equipped with the Shtora-1 countermeasures suite. They will be equipped with the LEDS-150 Land Electronic Defence System.
Also, because of its shape, the T-90A's turret sides are better protected than other MBTs' against shots on the frontal arc.
In addition to the passive and active protection systems the T-90 is also fitted with nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection equipment, KMT mine sweeps and an automatic fire fighting system. The EMT-7 electromagnetic-counter mine system can also be installed on the T-90. EMT-7 emits an electromagnetic pulse to disable magnetic mines and disrupt electronics before the tank reaches them. The Nakidka signature reduction suite is also available for the T-90. Nakidka is designed to reduce the probabilities of an object to be detected by Infrared, Thermal, Radar-Thermal, and Radar bands.
The T-90A is, quite unsurprisingly, the second most heavily armoured unit in the game, the first being the Challenger 2, featuring, beside the fairly high starting overall armour statistic, a three-tier upgrade of passive armour, a three-tier upgrade of reactive armour and, finally, also a two-tier upgrade of spaced armour. This tank is, therefore, very well armoured and protected against every threat, considering the tank also features a three tier upgrade of active protection system.
3.4 -Main gun and ammo:
- Main armament upgrades: three-tier upgrade available.
The T-90's main armament is the 2A46M 125 mm smoothbore tank gun. This is a highly modified version of the Sprut anti-tank gun, and is the same gun used as the main armament on the T-80-series tanks. It can be replaced without dismantling the inner turret and is capable of firing armour-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS), high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT-FS), and high explosive fragmentation (HE-FRAG) ammunition, as well as 9M119M Refleks anti-tank guided missiles. The Refleks missile has semi-automatic laser beam-riding guidance and a tandem hollow-charge HEAT warhead. It has an effective range of 100 m to 6 km, and takes 17.5 seconds to reach maximum range. Refleks can penetrate about 950 millimetres of steel armour and can also engage low-flying air targets such as helicopters.
The tank's damage is slightly above average, thanks to a three-tier upgrade of the main gun; this, however, combined with an average reloading speed, still results, in the end, in a low DPM.
The different types of ammo available for the tank's gun are:
- Armor Piercing (AP): two-tier ammo upgrade available;
- Armor Piercing Discarding Sabot (APDS): two-tier ammo upgrade available;
- High Explosive Anti Tank (HEAT): two-tier ammo upgrade available;
- High Explosive (HE): two-tier ammo upgrade available;
- Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM): two-tier ammo upgrade available.
- Engine upgrades: three-tier upgrade available.
The T-90A is fitted with the 1000hp V-92S2 four stroke, 12 cylinder, multi-fuel diesel engine; considering the low weight, this tank features an amazing power-to-weight ratio.
The engine is one of the many strongs points of the T-90A: a three-tier upgrade of the engine, makes this tank extremely agile and allows it to reach its top speed very quickly indeed.
Many tanks in the Soviet/Russian tech tree feature a very low reverse speed and the T-90A is no exception; however, be advised that this tank's reverse speed is even worse, almost negligible: an elderly with a walking cane can easily outmaneuver the T-90A while reversing. Avoid it at all costs.
The engine is relatively compact and it's located at the rear end of the hull.
3.6 -Reloading system:
- Reloading system upgrades: one-tier upgrade available.
Like other modern Russian tanks, the 2A46M in the T-90 series is fed by an automatic loader which removes the need for a manual loader in the tank and reduces the crew to 3 (commander, gunner, and driver). The autoloader can carry 22 ready-to-fire rounds in its carousel and can load a round in 5–8 seconds. It has been suggested that the automatic loaders on modern T-90 tanks have been modified to take advantage of newer ammunition such as the 3BM-44M APFSDS, which, like the US M829A3, penetrates armour better than the previous shorter rounds.
The reloading speed, however, is definately a downside of the T-90: the tank features a three-tier upgrade of the reloading system, achieving an average rate of fire. While the reloading speed is comparable to high damaging guns', the damage output of the T-90A's 125mm 2A46M is just slightly above average and inferior to the formers. The resulting DPM is, therefore, low.
3.7 -Turret rotation system:
- Turret rotation system upgrades: two-tier upgrade available.
The T-90A features a two-tier upgrade of the turret rotation system, achieving a slightly below average turret rotation speed; this, combined with the tank's negligible reverse speed, means that the T-90A is very easily outflanked without it being able to return fire at all, unless particular countermeasures are immediately undertaken.
3.8 -Additional upgrades:
- Radio upgrades: one-tier upgrade available
- Radar upgrades: two-tier upgrade available
- Smoke grenade dischargers upgrades: four-tier upgrade available.
- Infrared optics upgrades: one-tier upgrade available.
- Thermal optics upgrades: one-tier upgrade available.
- Fording kit upgrades: one-tier upgrade available.
- Floating kit upgrades: no upgrades available.
4. -How to get the best out of it (Role) and How to deal with one (Countermeasures):
Now that we have analyzed the characteristics of the T-90A, it's time to sum up:
-All round armor.
-Exceptional passive armour.
-Exceptional reactive armour and spaced armour upgrades.
-Amazing power-to-weight ratio: this tank is extremely agile as well as featuring a great acceleration.
-The engine is rather small and occupies only half of the engine compartment, therefore it's difficult to hit, resulting in rare engine fires and engine breakdowns.
-The turret is small and has a low silhouette.
-Sometimes, the relatively low health pool may be considered an advantage: even in the worst situation, just one health box will be required to restore almost all of the tank's hit points.
-The tank's health pool is definitely below average.
-The combination of an average reloading speed and slightly above average damage dealt by the main gun results in a low DPM.
-Maximum speed is lower than other MBTs'.
-Reverse speed is just horrid.
-Slow turret rotation speed, combined with the tank's negligible reverse speed, makes the T-90A very prone to being outflanked and unable to return fire.
The T-90A is a very versatile tank; however, considering its low health pool and DPM, it's advised not to engage enemies head on, even though the T-90A is perfectly capable of doing so, should the need arise.
Instead, always try and outflank your opponents: your extremely tough front armour will withstand any shot with ease, while your amazing agility will allow you to easily outmanoeuvre any foe, preventing them from shooting back and making the low DPM a negligible matter. Always remember to keep moving, thus taking advantage of the tank's low silhouette and avoiding most enemy shots, and thus keeping momentum needed to outflank your opponents.
Also, mind your low health pool and use your speed to break engagement with the enemy, restore your health and get back to the frontline.
Finally, never reverse: as said above the T-90A's reverse speed is negligible and reversing will make you a sitting duck. Also, this, combined with the tank's rather slow turret rotation speed, make you very prone to be outflanked and unable to return fire; to counter this, slightly move forward, as your great acceleration will allow you to build some speed in no time at all, and then turn your tank, so that you will always keep your gun and your tough front armour against the enemy tank.
4.2 -How to deal with one:
The T-90A is one of the toughest opponents you can find on the battlefield; however, as for any other tanks, by taking advantage of its downsides you will be able to take it down with relative ease.
This tank has a low health pool, so, head on engagements work well against the T-90A, as long as you have a tank with a good DPM; never shoot the heavily armoured hull, instead, aim at the tracks and the turret to deal a good amount of damage.
Also, take advantage of its major drawbacks and try to outflank it, unless your opponent does what I explained above, you will be able to outmanoeuvre it with ease, without it being able to return fire; because of the tank's horrid reverse speed and low turret rotation speed; besides, the sides and the rear of the T-90A are considerably weaker and, considering this tank's health pool, you should make quick work of it.
As for any other very agile tank, remember to take the necessary countermeasures to avoid being outflanked in turn and you should be fine.
Here I end my review of the T-90A, one of the most heavily armoured tanks in the entire game: never underestimate it.
I apologize in advance if something written is wrong and I hope you enjoyed it. If you liked it, another one will shortly follow! Tell me what you think about it in the comments and any advice you may suggest is welcome.
If you want to help, contact me via PM.
Take care on the battlefield, fellows!
Copying/Using any part of this review anywhere else is strictly forbidden, unless my proper authorisation is given.
"T-90 Main Battle Tank". Vasiliy Fofanov's Modern Russian Armor Page.
"T-90". btvt.narod.ru. Retrieved April 11, 2014.
6. -Special thanks to:
The Reviews team.
Udssr for making available his T-90A for the armor tests.
And last but not least all of you that read this review!