The Russian army boasts around 100 T-90s, which are the most technologically advanced battle vehicles in its weapons arsenal. Introduced in 2016, the T-90M was expected to provide better protection to tank crews from missile strikes. However, last week one was taken out by Ukrainian forces within days of being deployed.
The ease with which it was destroyed has led British military experts from the Ministry of Defence to conclude that the T-90M remains vulnerable to attacks from anti-tanks weapons such as Javelins and NLAWS.
The MoD tweeted on Saturday: “The T-90M was introduced in 2016 and includes improved armour, an upgraded gun and enhances satellite navigation systems.
“Approximately 100 T-90M tanks are currently in service amongst Russia’s best equipped units, including those fighting in Ukraine.
‘The system’s upgraded armour, designed to counter anti-tank weaponry, remains vulnerable if unsupported by other force elements.”
The Ukrainian Armed Forces claim they have destroyed a huge number of Russian tanks, since the invasion began on February 24.
Around 1,122 have been taken out, according to the most recent published update on May 7.
The International Institute for Strategic Studies estimates that Moscow possessed as many as 2,700 battle tanks at the start of the war.
Most of Russia’s tank stock, however, is made up of older Soviet designs – such as the T-62 and T-72.
These were believed to be far more vulnerable to Western anti-tank weapons than the T-90M.
One of the main striking features of the T-90M is its enhanced armour protection.
It uses Relikt built-in Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) in place of the previous Kontakt-5.
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The armour is supposed to provide protection against tandem warheads, like the Javelin, as well as significantly reducing penetration from armour-piercing rounds (APFSDS).
Last week the Ukrainian military released video footage of an attack on a Russian military unit, which resulted in the destruction of £4 million T-90M.
In a statement last Monday, they said: “The Resistance Movement of the SSO of Ukraine is working.
“In the Kharkiv region, during reconnaissance operations, our soldiers discovered clusters of enemy equipment, including heavy armoured and lightly armoured vehicles.’
They added: “An hour after the priority targets for the strike were determined, soldiers of the Resistance Movement coordinated a unit of one of the artillery brigades and adjusted the fire on enemy targets.
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“As a result of joint work of soldiers of the Defence Forces of Ukraine, the losses of the Russians amounted to: T-90 tank – destroyed. T-80BVM tank – destroyed. MTLB – destroyed. MTLB – damaged.”
The UK MoD said Russia continued to sustain significant losses to frontline units and that it would take “considerable” time for Putin to reconstitute his army.
They explained: “The conflict in Ukraine is taking a heavy toll on some of Russia’s most capable units and most advanced capabilities.
“It will take considerable time and expense for Russia to reconstitute its armed forces following this conflict.
“It will be particularly challenging to replace modernised and advanced equipment due to sanctions restricting Russia’s access to critical microelectronic components.