T-90M Proryv: The Russia Super Tank That Keeps Getting Killed in Ukraine

T-90 Tank from Russia
December 6, 2023 Topic: military Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: T-90MT-90RussiaTanksUkraineWar In Ukraine

T-90M Proryv: The Russia Super Tank That Keeps Getting Killed in Ukraine

The T-90M Proryv is the latest modernization variant of the Russian MBT that first entered into service in 1994. The upgraded T-90 tank has been vastly improved in terms of protection, mobility, and firepower.

The Russian military has lost a considerable number of main battle tanks (MBTs) in its 21-month-long "special military operation" in Ukraine, and the Kremlin has struggled to replenish its tank forces. However, the press office of the Central Military District announced that its armored and motor rifle units had received more than a dozen new T-90M "Proryv" MBTs.

"A batch of 15 upgraded T-90M Proryv main battle tanks has replenished the combat vehicle pools of armored and motor rifle units of the Central Military District’s combined arms army," the press office said in a statement.

According to Russian state media, the "T-90M Proryv is the most advanced armored vehicle in the family of T-90 main battle tanks and most of all fit for modern warfare thanks to its all-round armor protection, top-notch all-weather highly automated fire control and enhanced survivability."

The T-90M in the Crosshairs

The T-90M Proryv is the latest modernization variant of the Russian MBT that first entered into service in 1994. The upgraded T-90 tank has been vastly improved in terms of protection, mobility, and firepower.

According to multiple sources, the MBT has been upgraded with a fundamentally new turret differing from the serial-produced combat module, and a more powerful 1,130 hp engine. However, the configuration of the Proryv is similar to the previous T-90 models, with a driver compartment at the front, a turret at the center of the hull, and a power plant located at the rear. It is propelled by a 1000mm 12-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach speeds of 60 kilometers per hour on roads and 50 off-road.

The Proryv variant is armed with a 125mm 2A46M-4 smoothbore gun that is capable of firing standard ammunition as well as anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) Refleks NATO Code AT-11 Sniper-B rounds. Secondary armament includes a remotely operated weapon station armed with an NSVT 12.7mm heavy machine gun and a 7.62mm PTKM coaxial machine gun.

Russian media claimed the tank's new multichannel sight enables the crew to employ its armaments at any time of the day or night. In addition, the option of exchanging data with other combat vehicles in real-time has been one of the upgraded tank’s major advantages.

The tank is believed to have been equipped with the new Relikt ERA (Explosive Reactive Armor) armor fitted at the front and on each side of the turret. The T-90M was first tested during the Zapad-2017 military exercise in September 2017.

T-90M Tank Service in Ukraine

An unknown number of the upgraded T-90Ms had been deployed to Ukraine, with the first arriving late last year. Russia has touted the advanced capabilities of the tanks.

In the spring of 2022, the Uralvagonzavod defense manufacturer – which is part of the state tech conglomerate Rostec – even held a ceremony to mark the latest production of the upgraded MBTs.

"The preparations for and the assimilation of the mass production of these modern armored vehicles have been implemented at the enterprise in full and positive results of qualification tests have been received," the Rostec press office told Tass at the time.

However, Western analysts have downplayed the capabilities of the T-90M.

The T-90M Proryv "seems impressive, but Russian tanks always look good until they are actually used in combat," military technology and defense expert Michael Peck told Newsweek in March 2023.

Russian tank losses in Ukraine are believed to be considerable, and since the start of the unprovoked war and the beginning of October of this year, Russia has lost at least 2,472 tanks in Ukraine, according to figures from the Dutch open-source intelligence outlet, Oryx. Of that number, 50 were reported to be T-90Ms, with 34 T-90As destroyed, damaged, captured, or abandoned.

Video circulated on X – the social media platform formerly known as Twitter – last month that showed the destruction of a T-90M in Eastern Ukraine. Another T-90M was reported destroyed in early December 2023, adding to the tally of the advanced tanks lost to date in the conflict.

According to figures from the Military Balance 2021 database, Russia had around 3,330 operational tanks, including 2,840 with the ground forces, 330 with its naval infantry, and 160 with its airborne forces. In addition, in storage facilities around Russia, the Kremlin could claim to have 10,200 tanks – including 2,800 T-55s, 2,500 T-62s, and 2,000 T-64s.

Now, as the second year of fighting draws to a close, it is evident that Russia's tank force has been seriously diminished.

Author Experience and Expertise

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.