modern Russian armor


Russia (1997)
Heavy Armored Personel Carrier – Unknown No. Built

In December 1994, Russian forces assaulted the Chechen capital of Grozny in what would later be known as the First Chechen War. After suffering enormous casualties, the Russians finally managed to capture the city, only to be forced out of it again by a Chechen counterattack in 1996. The war ended with the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya following a negotiated settlement.

There were lots of lessons to be learned from the first Russian experience in Grozny (1994-1996). Among these were the importance of training ground troops in the use and maintenance of existing and new equipment, the importance of gathering intelligence that can provide correct estimations of the enemy’s capabilities, the importance of assault planning and coordination as well as plan flexibility, and the poor performance of Cold War era Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) against modern anti-tank weapons. Often in this conflict, Russian APCs, such as the BTR-70, and even Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs), such as the BMP-2, found their protection hopelessly outmatched by weapons such as RPG-7s and Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs) used by their Chechen adversaries.

A Chechen fighter passes by a knocked out Russian BMP-2 in Grozny, Chechnya. Source: Wikimedia commons

The latter lesson did not go unnoticed by the Russian high command either.

As a result, the need for increased protection for APCs became more urgent. In response, the Design Bureau of Transport Engineering under the direction of the chief designer of the project, D. Ageev, developed and produced (in conjunction with the State Production Association “Transport Engineering Plant”) a prototype of a heavy armored personnel carrier (BTR-T) based on the T-55 tank chassis, of which there was an abundance in reserves.

The BTR-T heavy armored personnel carrier. Source:

It should be noted that the Russians were not the first to convert an existing tank chassis into an APC. Examples of such conversions date as far back as the Great War, with the world’s first APC, the Mark IX, which was based on the Mark V tank. World War II saw many examples of this concept as well, such as the Canadian Kangaroo series. The Russians were not even the first to convert the T-55 into an APC. The Israelis, for instance, had their own conversions of T-55 tanks captured from their Arab adversaries, among which were Egypt and Syria, in 1967 and 1973 during the Arab-Isreali Wars into the Achzarit heavily armored personnel carrier.

The Achzarit heavy armored personnel carrier was an Israeli conversion of captured T-55 tanks. Source: Wikimedia commons

An Outdated Workhorse

Developed at the beginning of the Cold War, the T-55 medium tank was one of the most famous tanks produced in the USSR. It was a capable and reliable design with fairly competent protection and firepower for a medium tank of the mid 50s and early 60s, as well as some new technologies, such as an integrated NBC (Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical) protection system.

Around 60,000 tanks were built, making the T-55 the most numerous tank built in the Soviet Union. However, the T-55 was starting to show its age by the 1960s and 70s, especially in terms of firepower, protection, and mobility. As a result, after its replacement by more modern tanks, such as the T-62 and T-64, the Red Army was left with hundreds of T-55s in storage or with reserve units.

The T-55 tank. This example can be found at the Imperial War Museum, Manchester, UK. Photo: Wikimedia commons


The BTR-T (Russian: Бронетранспортёр-Тяжелый “Bronetransporter-Tyazhelyy”) under development was supposed to provide mechanized infantry brigades with a more protected way of traversing the battlefield, which would be vital for increasing their combat survivability, especially in urban environments, all while keeping up with other tracked vehicles in terms of mobility.

The BTR-T was demonstrated for the first time at the VTTV-97 weapons exhibition in Omsk in 1997. However, due to financial difficulties and lack of adequate testing, the vehicle never entered service in the Russian military. There is very little information on the number of vehicles converted.


The T-55 medium tank was already obsolete when the need for a more heavily armored APC arose, and thus many changes had to be implemented in order to prepare the old design for its new role.

The Turret

The removal of the T-55 turret and its 100 mm gun was the most important change of the BTR-T conversion. The old turret was replaced with a lighter low-profile turret that was shifted slightly to the right-hand side of the vehicle for better use of internal space. The turret could be fitted with various remotely controlled weapon types such as autocannons, machine guns, ATGMs (Anti-Tank Guided Missiles), and grenade launchers. It also featured a turret basket that would allow the gunner to rotate with the turret and protect those inside from being hurt during turret rotation

A new lightly armored turret was made to replace the T-55 turret. Source:
A side view of the BTR-T. Source: Unknown

The Hull

The hull of the vehicle saw extensive modifications, with the intention of increasing the protection, as well as the volume of the hull. The roof plate of the hull was replaced with a new one that incorporates hatches for the mounting and dismounting of infantry.

The frontal plate was up-armored through the addition of Kontakt-5 ERA (Explosive Reactive Armor) armor, which was designed to combat the effects of shaped charge warheads as well as APFSDS (Armour Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot) ammunition. The new ERA armor is bolted on top of the existing vehicle glacis in the form of individual blocks. When a round impacts the ERA block, the block explodes, creating a counter charge that helps to either weaken or completely negate the impacting penetrator. The addition of Kontakt-5 to the BTR-T is claimed to have improved the frontal plate’s protection to the equivalent of 600 mm of RHA (Rolled Homogeneous Armor).

Spaced armor, rubber side skirts, as well as ERA were added to the side of the vehicle, thus increasing the vehicle’s survivability against attacks from the side.

Left, Kontakt-5 ERA blocks attached to the front plate of the BTR-T. Right, additional armor on the side plate. Photo:

The side plates also featured additional storage space through the use of large boxes located along the sides of the vehicle. Additional fuel tanks were also introduced. However, unlike the T-55, these fuel tanks are stored in armored containers in the rear of the vehicle. Not much information is available regarding the capacity of said fuel tanks, but it can be assumed that they would have had a similar capacity to the T-55’s additional fuel drums, 200 liters, which would give the BTR-T a net fuel capacity of 1,100 liters of fuel.

Smoke grenade launchers were also added in the form of four sets of three 902V Tucha that launch 81 mm smoke grenades on both sides of the vehicle.

As for the floor armor plate, it was reinforced with anti-mine protection, though not much information is available on the type and efficiency of this protection.

A top rear view of the hull shows the enlarged chassis and the added Tucha smoke grenade launcher. Source:

For the interior of the vehicle, the basic layout remained similar, with the crew compartment situated in the front and middle parts of the vehicle, and the engine compartment in the back. The interior also featured an air conditioning system and an NBC protection system.

However, minor changes and improvements were made, such as increasing the number of hatches to four: the commander’s on the left, the driver’s on the right, and two in the back for passenger mounting and dismounting. Another improvement came in the form of a set of periscopes on the top of the vehicle for the passengers. The interior space could accommodate 5 personnel alongside 2 crew members (the commander/gunner and the driver). It should be noted that this is a very low capacity for an APC, which is one of the problems this design had.

Crew layout of the BTR-T. Photo: Wikimedia commons

As for the engine, the V-55 12 cylinder diesel (the same found on the T-55 medium tank) was kept without changes. It has a power output of 600-620 hp, giving the vehicle a top speed of 50 km/h and an operational range of 500 km.

The V-55 engine. Photo:

The transmission also remained without changes. It was manual, and it included the main multi-plate clutch, five-speed synchromesh gearbox, final drives, and universal turning mechanisms. Overall, the mobility of the BTR-T was largely unchanged from the medium tank it was based on.


As mentioned before, the BTR-T was designed to be capable of carrying a multitude of different weapon systems to ensure the survival of the vehicle against the numerous threats it might encounter on the battlefield. The turret’s weapon systems can be configured and customized based on the desire of the buyer. These weapons include the 2A42 30 mm Autocannon, the 2A38 anti-aircraft gun, the AGS-17 automatic grenade launcher, the NSVT heavy machine gun, and the 9M113 Konkurs ATGM. Furthermore, a combination of these weapons could be configured based on the desire of the buyer.

BTR-T weapon choices. Source: Wikimedia commons

30A 2A42 Autocannon

The 30A 2A42 dual-feed open-bolt gas-operated autocannon is chambered for the Soviet 30×165 mm cartridge. It is designed to combat lightly armored targets at ranges up to 1,500 m, lightly armored enemy structures at ranges up to 4,000 m, as well as air targets flying at low altitudes up to 2,000 m with subsonic speeds and slant ranges up to 2,500 m. The BTR-T has the capacity to carry only 200 rounds for this gun, which is a notable disadvantage in the design of the vehicle.

The 2A42 Autocannon. Source:

It features two firing modes: fast at 550-800 rds/min, and slow at 200-300 rds/min. The weapon fires a multitude of rounds:

    • 3UBR6: Armor Piercing Tracer for engaging armored targets. It uses the 3BR6 projectile. At a 60 degree angle, this projectile can penetrate 20/18/14 mm of RHA at the ranges of 700/1,000/1,500 meters respectively. This performance is considered mediocre against older light armored vehicles such as the American M113 APC, but against more modern vehicles such as the M2A2 Bradley, the 3BR6 would be less useful. The tracer burns for 3.5 seconds. At 1.5 kilometers, the round has a 55% probability of hitting an APC-type target.
    • 3UBR8: Armor Piercing Discarding Sabot Tracer for engaging armored targets with much better performance than the 3UBR6 in terms of penetration, velocity and accuracy. It achieves this by using a plastic discarding sabot with an aluminum plug in its 3BR8 projectile which contains a tungsten alloy penetrator. The penetrator lacks a ballistic cap which would weaken its performance against composite, sloped and spaced armor. It can penetrate 35/25/22 mm of 60 degree angled RHA at distances of 1,000/1,500/2,000 meters respectively. At a range of 1.5 km, the probability of hitting an APC-type target with the 3UBR8 is 70%.
    • 3UOF8: High Explosive Incendiary for neutralizing enemy infantry, soft-skinned vehicles, lightly armored structures and helicopters. It can also be effective at disabling optical and sighting systems of heavily armored vehicles. It contains a 49 g charge of A-IX-2 explosive filler and uses the A-670M PD (Point Detonating) nose fuze, which would detonate 9 to 14 seconds after the round is fired. The round is loaded in a 4:1 ratio of 3UOF8 to 3UOR6.
    • 3UOR6: Fragmentation Tracer for complimenting the 3UOF8 for fire correction purposes. To make room for the tracer element, the mass of the explosive filler was reduced to 11.5 g, which reduces its explosive capacity. The tracer burns for 14 seconds.
The 2A42 autocannon on the BTR-T. Source: Unknown

2A38 Anti-Aircraft Gun

One of the weapon options offered by the BTR-T turret is a dual twin-barrelled 2A38 30 mm anti-aircraft autocannon like the one found on the Pantsir-S1 air-defence system. Entering service in 1982, the 2A38 is a 30 mm autocannon produced by TulaMashZavod. It is designed primarily to combat low-flying aircraft and helicopters as well as soft-skinned ground targets. It features twin water-cooled barrels supplied by a single belt-feeding mechanism. Like the aforementioned 2A42, it is chambered for 30×165 mm and uses similar ammunition types with similar muzzle velocities. However, it has a much higher rate of fire of 4060 – 4810 rds/min to fulfil its anti-air purpose more effectively. It should be noted that there does not appear to be any form of radar guidance for the 2A38 on the BTR-T, which would decrease the weapon’s effectiveness against enemy aircraft.

The 2A38 twin-barrelled autocannon. Source:

AGS-17 Grenade Launcher

Developed in the late 1960s, the AGS-17 automatic grenade launcher is capable of firing 30 mm HE (High Explosive) rounds, designed to deal with enemy infantry and light-skinned vehicles. The rounds are fed by a steel belt, and the weapon uses recoil to power its automatic cycle through a blowback mechanism. It is capable of a 400 rds/min rate of fire, and has an effective range of 800-1,700 meters.

AGS-17 automatic grenade launcher. Photo: Wikimedia commons

NSVT HMG (Heavy Machine Gun)

The NSVT is a version of the NSV heavy machine gun modified for installment on armored vehicles. It is a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun designed to deal with infantry and low-flying aircraft, designed in the 1970s. It has a rate of fire of 700-800 rds/min and a muzzle velocity of 845 m/s. It can engage ground targets at a range of 2,000 meters or less, and 1,500 meters or less for air targets. The weapon would be remotely controlled from inside the vehicle.

NSV HMG. Source:
The NSVT heavy machine gun on the BTR-T. Source:

ATGM (Anti-Tank Guided Missile)

The ATGM system chosen was the 9M113 Konkurs, which was the main Soviet ATGM weapon of choice since the mid-70s. Launched from the 5P56M missile launcher unit, the missile was designed to combat enemy armored vehicles and structures.

It is a Semi-Automatic Command to Line of Sight (SACLOS) wire guided missile that is aimed and guided to its target through the use of a sighting device that is constantly pointed at the target. The missile has an operational range from 75 meters to 4 kilometers. It flies to the target at a speed of 208 m/s. The missile carries a HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank) shaped charge warhead, which, upon contact with the target, detonates its explosive charge, forcing the inner metal sheet to collapse on itself, forming a high-velocity superplastic jet, which punches through the target’s armor. This gives the Konkurs the ability to penetrate up to 600 mm of RHA (Rolled Homogeneous Armor). Later variants of the Konkurs, such as the 9M113M, use a tandem shaped-charge warhead in order to penetrate armor that is protected by ERA (Explosive Reactive Armor).

The 9M113 Konkurs ATGM. Source: reddit
Konkurs on the BTR-T turret. Source: Unknown


The design of the BTR-T presented many flaws, the most important of which was the small size of the hull, which only allowed for 5 passengers to be transported. Another flaw is the poor positioning of the mount/dismount hatches for the 5 passengers, which would require them to climb over the engine deck to access the hatches. This, coupled with the small size of the two hatches, made mounting and dismounting the vehicle a difficult process.

These problems were the result of the layout of the hull, as it remained largely unchanged from the base T-55 hull, which had the engine compartment in the back of the vehicle. Another problem was the lack of firing ports for the passengers. Additionally, the lack of a small-caliber weapon, such as the 7.62 mm PKT present on other Russian armored vehicles, including the BMP-2, proved problematic. This decreased the versatility of the vehicle against soft-skinned targets. The small amount of autocannon ammunition carried (200 rnds), resulting from the vehicle’s cramped interior, was also troublesome.

A rear view of the BTR-T which shows one of the main problems in the vehicle’s design, the impractical placement of the passenger hatches. Source:


The information regarding the testing, operational history, and the numbers of BTR-Ts converted is very scarce. The financial crisis that the Russian Federation suffered in the late-90s prevented even sending an initial batch to the frontline for experiments. As a result, the BTR-T remained out of service. The manufacturers resorted to offering the transformation of existing T-55s serving under foreign militaries, of which there are more than plenty. These potential conversions will be carried under license by the buyer if they were ever to happen.

Some sources claim that in 2011 Bangladesh was the first country to convert 30 of its T-54A fleet into BTR-Ts. Further details on this contract are not available.


The BTR-T was a step in the right direction for its purpose. It featured decent protection and a diverse selection of armament. Almost more importantly, it offered all of this for the cheap price of converting already existing T-55 medium tanks, without the need for major overhauls or redesigns. However, due to design flaws of the BTR-T and financial hardships that the Russian government was suffering from in the late-90s, the vehicle was never approved for production. It did, however, inspire and influence other projects for the same purpose, such as the BMO-T, which was adopted by the Russian military for specialized flamethrower squads.

The BMO-T heavy armored personnel carrier which is based on the T-72 chassis. Source: Vitaly Kuzmin

Illustration of the BTR-T by Tank Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet.


Dimensions 6.4 x 2.85 x 1.8 meters
Crew 2 + 5 passengers
Propulsion V-55, 12-cylinder V-type liquid-cooled diesel, 570 hp
Suspension Torsion bars
Speed (road) 50 km/h
Range 500 km
Armament 30A automatic gun 2A42 Ammunition: 200 rds
135 mm ATGM “Konkurs” launcher, 3 missiles carried
12 smoke grenade launchers
Armor ERA armor
RHA equivalent – 600 mm over the frontal 30 degree arc

Sources (RU)
О современных разработках высокозащищенных машин пехоты (RU)
BTR-T from the tank (RU)
Тяжелый бронетранспортер БТР-Т (RU)
В Бангладеш переделали 30 Т-54А в омские БТР-Т (RU)
30-мм автоматическая пушка 2А42 (RU)
ДЗ Контакт-5 (RU)
АГС-17 «Пламя» – автоматический станковый гранатомёт (RU)
30x165mm Cartridges
2А38 (RU)
30mm 2A38 (RU)
Military Parade magazine – 1998 p 38-40 (RU)
Armor magazine – 2001 p 13-14
Infantry magazine – 2000 p 16-18
T-54 and T-55 Main Battle Tanks 1944-2004 Steven J. Zaloga
Russia’s Chechen Wars 1994-2000 Olga Oliker

modern Russian armor

BMPT Terminator

Russia (2002)
Heavy Infantry Fighting Vehicle – 15-20 built

BMPT Terminator being showcased at an expo.

Philosophy of a Russian heavy IFV

The BMPT Terminator (the name “Terminator” is not an official designation, but used by the designers for publicity reasons) is a support combat vehicle which is mainly meant to be used in urban areas. It is, quite obviously, based off the T-72 without the iconic hemispherical turret, which is exchanged for an unmanned platform with a single machine gun, four anti-tank missiles and dual 30 mm (1.18 in) auto-cannons. The hull has a superstructure built onto to it, which allows for more space for the crew.
Since tanks aren’t really suited for use in urban areas, this is a great alternative to the regular MBT, because it possesses a rapid enough rate of fire to react to any enemy vehicles in its surrounding and the four missiles are excellent when fighting against heavily armored targets. However, this vehicle is not a tank substitute, as it cannot perform as well in non-urban areas. While it is still lethal against other softer targets, it is unsuited to the extreme ranges that tanks battle at. Another advantage that the BMPT has over regular tanks is the elevation and depression. The gun is able to elevate and depress enough to hit at any targets, like building tops and other tall structures.

Early developments

Before the Terminator, two earlier prototypes were placed in competition for the BMPT requirements. These were the Object 781 and the Object 782, both made by Chelyabinsk and lead by V.L. Vershinsky. The main reason these two vehicles were ordered was the performance of IFVs in the Soviet War in Afghanistan. IFVs such as the BMP-1 and the BMD series proved to struggle against infantry when faced with portable anti-tank weapons, such as the well-known RPG series. Another downfall of the BMP-1 was the lack of elevation (the BMP-2 fixed this problem) which allowed the enemy to take a major advantage when engaging it from above. The Object 781 and the Object 782 were based off the T-72B, with major modifications.
Object 781 Object 782
Object 781 and Object 782 stored at the Kubinka Tank Museum
The Object 781 was dual turreted, each turret having a 30mm 2A72 (basically a simpler 30mm 2A42, which is seen on Soviet/Russian helicopters and IFVs) with a PKT 7.62mm machine gun as a companion. It also mounted an anti-tank missile system of an unknown type (most likely the 9M133 Konkurs). Its competitor was the Object 782; it had an actual turret, as opposed to the two unmanned turrets of the Object 781, with a very similar hull. The profile was smaller and it was armed with a 100mm 2A70 low recoil gun and a 30mm 2A72 auto-cannon which were directly connected to each other (similar system and weapons on the BMP-3). It was also armed with two 40mm grenade launchers (one on the hull and the other on the turret). The Object 781 won and was probably considered for mass-production, but the break-up of the Soviet Union ruined that prospect.
Object 787
Object 787 at the Kubinka Tank Museum
About five years later, another prototype was made and built by Chelyabinsk; this prototype was based off the T-72AV. This project was built because of tank performance in Chechnya (which was abysmal). The project kept the turret but removed the big 125mm main gun for a pair of 30mm 2A72 auto-cannons and six unguided rockets on each side. It also added extra structure at the back, in order for the armament to work properly and shield it from flanking fire. This tank was praised by many of the designers and some military officials. Unfortunately, work on the project was canceled because it was being advertised on radio and on television. Everyone who was working on the project was accused of “giving away Russia’s secrets” (keep in mind that Russia was in chaos during the 90’s). While they weren’t allowed to work on this vehicle, in particular, this did not stop the urge for an armored fighting vehicle with missiles, auto-cannons, and lots of armor.
Original BMPT model with one 30mm autocannon and older ATGMs. Final BMPT prototype design presumably being tested.
The BMPT Terminator prototypes
In the early 2000’s, work started on a new project called the Object 199, with the name “Ramka” attached to it. The Object 199 is the tank that came to be known as the BMPT Terminator. It was shown to the public in 2001 as a mock-up and the real project was unveiled to the masses in 2002. The early design was armed with a single 30mm 2A42 and four 9M133 “Kornet” ATGMs with two AG-17 grenade launchers and one 7.62mm PKTM as secondary armaments. Further development accompanied the 30mm auto-cannon with another 30mm auto-cannon and replaced the 9M133 “Kornet” ATGMs with  9M120 “Ataka” ATGMs.

Design of the BMPT

Instead of the 30mm 2A72 seen on the first 3 prototypes, the BMPT was equipped with the more complex 30mm 2A42 autocannon (effective range of 4000 meters). This auto-cannon is stabilized on two planes and has a rate of fire ranging from as low as 200 rounds per minute to 800 rounds per minute, with both having -5° and +45° and 360° of turret rotation. The BMPT’s second primary armament is the 130mm 9M120 “Ataka-T” anti-tank missile (industrial code is B07S1), with claims from the manufacturer that it can penetrate 800 mm (2’7”) of homogeneous armor with ERA with its HEAT ammunition (good enough for the side or rear of any modern tank). There are four of these anti-tank missiles, with two of them being placed vertically on both sides of the 30mm auto-cannons. This anti-tank missile is guided by a semi-automatic laser beam with flexible elevation angles (-10°/+25°). The missile has a flight velocity of 550 m/s with a maximum range of 5800 meters; it is controlled by the VIAM.461112.001 ground control equipment inside the BMPT. Since this is not a 9M120F variant (anti-personnel variant), it does not have the ability to carry anti-personnel missiles or not supposed to.
A closeup of all the BMPT’s weapons except for the two 30mm grenade launchers
One of the BMPT’s secondary armament is one 7.62 PKTM machine gun that is situated between the two autocannons, with an aiming range of 1500 meters, muzzle velocity of 850 m/s, and a theoretical rate of fire of 700-800 rounds per minute. This machine gun has the same elevation and depression as the 30mm auto-cannons since it’s fixed on the same oscillating platform with the 30mm auto-cannons. The BMPT’s second secondary armament are two 30mm AG-17D grenade launchers. These grenade launchers are placed at the front of the tank on the far side of each other. They have the ability to fire 400 rounds per minute with a low muzzle velocity of 185 m/s and are able to kill a person up to 7+ meter radius from 1700 meters away. The grenade launchers on the right have 5° to the left and 27° to the right and the grenade launchers on the left have 27° on the left and 5° on the right with horizontal stabilization. Both of the grenade launchers have -5.5° depression and +20° elevation (no vertical stabilization). The BMPT is truly a killing machine with nine weapons (four different weapons) at the BMPT’s disposal
The BMPT is powered by a V-92S2 (2000 rpm, V12, 4-stroke, multi-fuel, liquid cooling, and turbocharger) engine that churns out about 1000 hp. Combined with the weight (48 tonnes, 53 short tons, and 47 long tons) of the BMPT, it has a power-to-weight ratio of 20-21 hp/t, with a range of 550 km and a speed of 60 km/h on hard roads. The gearbox has seven forward gears and one reverse gear. The BMPT’s suspension is a torsion bar suspension (like most tanks designed from the 50’s and onwards) with shock absorbers, six rubber-lined road wheels, one front idler wheel, one rear drive sprocket, and three return rollers on each side. Ground clearance is 406mm and it’s able to ford water as deep as 1.8 meters with preparations and 1.2 meters without preparations. It is also able to climb over obstacles up to 0.85 meters at 30 degrees and able to cross trenches of 2.6-2.8 meters wide.
Since the armor is based on the T-72, it will most likely have the same armor as the T-90 or a modernized T-72. It also has Relikt ERA, which is said to be stronger than Kontakt-5. The side skirts are covered with soft material armor, cage/slat armor at the rear, and hard panels made of different materials. The crew is NBC protected from nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, as the acronym suggests. It also has an automatic fire extinguisher and System 903A smoke grenade launchers to conceal itself when spotted by the enemy or against guided weapons using infrared.

Active service

While the BMPT is not in Russian service since it is based on old Soviet tank designs, it is being used and bought by Kazakhstan and Algeria. Kazakhstan even went further by signing an agreement with UralVagonZavod in September of 2013 to co-produce the BMPT. Kazakhstan is providing decommissioned T-72s while Russia, specifically UralVagonZavod, will provide modules and spare parts with which Kazakhstan will assemble these tanks in their nation. This is a great way for UralVagonZavod to make a profit and for Kazakhstan to revive their old Soviet-era T-72s to current standards.
Peru also expressed interest to UralVagonZavod during Peru’s SITDEF (Salón Internacional De Tecnología Para La Defensa Y Prevención De Desastres Naturales) expo in 2015, with an interest to upgrade their aging T-55s with BMPT turrets and other possible modifications to the hull. However, these T-55s may be replaced or at most accompanied by Russian T-90s, Spanish Leopard 2A4s, or Dutch Leopard 2A6s. In addition, various Israeli companies and the Peruvian Desarrollos Industriales Casanave, with the association of the Ukrainian Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau, have also offered upgrades for the Peruvian T-55s.
Kazakhstani BMPTs being used during a parade. Algerian BMPT that is being trialed in Algeria.
BMPTs in Kazakhstani or Algerian service.

BMPT-72 Terminator-2 (2013)

This support combat vehicle was first revealed at the Russian Arms Expo (RAE) at Nizhny Tagil, Russia in 2013. The Terminator 2 is being sold as an armor upgrade package, rather than an actual tank, with two engines available. The two engines are the V-84MS (840 hp, 2000 rpm, V12, 4-stroke, multi-fuel, liquid cooling, and gear driven centrifugal type supercharger) and the V-92S2 (1000 hp, 2000 rpm, V12, 4-stroke, multi-fuel, liquid cooling, and turbocharger). These upgrades removed the two frontal 30mm grenade launchers; this reduced the crew from five to three, but also lightened the load from 48 tonnes to 44 tonnes.
The armament of the BMPT-72 Terminator 2 is the same (except for the removal of the two 30mm grenade launchers), however, the armament is better protected and the structural support of the four ATGMs is enhanced and positioned horizontally instead of vertically. The FCS has also gotten an upgrade with a new multi-channel gunner’s sight that is equipped with a thermal channel, night vision, laser range finder, laser guidance system for missiles, and independent 2-plane stabilization of field of view with a sighting range of 5000 meters. The BMPT-72 received a new digital ballistic computer with weather and topographical support and the armament is stabilized on two axes with electromechanical traversing and elevating drives. Lastly, improved NBC protection is provided for the crew.
BMPT-72 Terminator 2 showcased at an expo
BMPT-72 Terminator 2 unveiled at RAE 2013

BMPT-72 Terminator 2 in service

While the Terminator 2 isn’t in service as far as we know, Azerbaijan held an arms expo named ADEX (Azerbaijan Defense Exhibition) in 2014, which allowed arms dealers to show off their weapons to the armed forces of Azerbaijan. Since Azerbaijan has territorial issues with Armenia about the Nagorno-Karabakh region, the small Caucasian nation is looking for potent weapons in case things get heated again between the two countries. During the expo, Azerbaijan had stated that they’re interested in the Ka-52 attack/scout helicopter and the BMPT-72 Terminator 2 and numerous other weapons. In 2013, various unspecified Persian Gulf nations also expressed interest in the Terminator 2 during the Russian Arms Expo (RAE).
The Russian Federation has however refused the second iteration of the BMPT as well. The reasoning is that since the T-15 Armata exists, there is no reason to adopt the Terminator 2, with possibly less armor and no infantry carrying capacity. Lastly, during India’s DEFEXPO in 2014, UralVagonZavod proposed two upgrades to India’s obsolete T-72s. UVZ (UralVagonZavod) proposed the BMPT-72 package on India’s T-72s, which would extend their service life. They also proposed an Arena-E APS upgrade on Indian T-72s. Active Protection Systems fire a small projectile at cumulative and explosive missiles from portable/non-portable anti-tank weapons such as RPGs, Kornet, Konkurs, TOW, etc, detonating them before impact.
An article by Joshua Martinez a.k.a. SovietTenkDestroyer

BMPT specifications

Dimensions 7.2 x3.37 x3.80 m (23x 11x 12 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 48 tonnes
Crew 5 (driver, gunner, commander, 2 operators)
Propulsion V12 multifuel V-92S2 diesel, 1,000 hp (736 kW), 20 hp/t, turbocharger
Suspension Torsion bars
Speed (road) 60 km/h (37 mph)
Range 550 km (340 mi)
Armament 2 x2A42 30mm autocannons
4 ×130 mm Ataka-T launchers
Coaxial 7.62mm PKTM
2x AG-17D grenade launchers
Armor See notes
Total production At least 15 built


BMPT-72 specifications

Dimensions 7.2 x3.33 x3.6 m (23x 10.92x 11.81 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 44 tonnes
Crew 3 (driver, gunner, commander)
Propulsion V12 multifuel V-84MS diesel, 840 hp (626 kW), 19 hp/t, supercharger
V12 multifuel V-92S2 diesel, 1,000 hp (736 kW), 20 hp/t, turbocharger
Suspension Torsion bars
Speed (road) 60 km/h (37 mph)
Range 500 km (310 mi)
Armament 2 x2A42 30mm autocannons
4 ×130 mm Ataka-T launchers
Coaxial 7.62mm PKTM
Armor See notes
Total production Couple built for exhibitions but generally unknown

Kazakh BMP-T
Kazakh BMP-T
Russian BMP-T demonstrator
Russian BMP-T demonstrator

Video: The Terminator in Action (live footage)


Kazakh BMPT in a parade, 2011.
BMPT 9M120 Ataka ATGM launcher tubes closeup, Engineering Technology Day 2012
BMPT Terminator at the Engineering Technologies days, 2012.

The Terminator as shown at Eurosatory, 2012.
BMPT at REA 2009


More information about the autocannons
Armored Warfare presentation of the BMPT
The Terminator 2 featured on Sputnik News
Terminator 2 specifications from UralVagonZavod
More info about the BMPT on
The BMPT predecessors presented by Armored Warfare
More info about the ATAKA missiles
More info about the ATAKA-T missiles
More info about the AG-17 rocket launchers
More info about the PKTM machine-gun
The V-92S engine on Army-Guide
The V-84MS engine on Army Guide
Announcement of the cancellation of the BMPT programme 
News about the Terminator/T-55 Peruvian hybrid
The ADEX expo as reported on Vice News
News about the Algerian testing of the BMPT (in Romanian)
The Russian-Kazakhstani cooperation on
More news about the same
The proposal of the Terminator/T-55 hybrid
More info about SITDEF 2015
Rumours about Gulf countries being interested in the Terminator 2
News about the official interest in the Terminator 2 in Azerbaijan
Information about the ammunition of the 30 mm autocannons

modern Russian armor


Main Battle Tank (1992)
Russia – 2260 built

The 3rd generation Russian MBT

In a sense, the T-90 is the first “Russian” MBT and even the first non-soviet tank ever, as back in 1914-1915 in Tsarist Russia neither the giant Lebedenko (Tsar) tank, the equally giant but more conventional Mendeleev or the small, snail-like Vezdekhod light tank had been pressed into service. In between, there was the Soviet era, with a history of building tanks spanning from the early 1920s with copies of the Renault FT to the T-80 MBT in the 1980s. An entire history of tank designs, which after 1941 confounded itself with the survival of the country in the “Great patriotic war”. An immense country which wide, unencumbered steppes providing an ideal terrain for tanks warfare, but at the same time climatic conditions which pushed mechanics to the extremes.

Hello, dear reader! This article is in need of some care and attention and may contain errors or inaccuracies. If you spot anything out of place, please let us know!

T-90A at the may 2008 Moskow victory parade rehearsal
After the turmoil of the end of the USSR and the creation of the Russian Federation, and the reconstruction of the army, the T-90 just had to probe into this wealth of experience, engineering, industrial capabilities, and proud legacy. However, with the opening to the west, a wealth of technical information were also available about the real capabilities and technologies used on Western, 3rd generation MBTs. So it was obvious the new tank had to be on par with other western competitors, and on comparable assets. This led to a composite but very efficient model which constitutes the bulk of the Russian armored division today, soon to be gradually replaced by new the T-14 Armata. The elite divisions are equipped with the even costlier T-80s.

Genesis of the T-90

The T-72BU

Back in the 1970s, the T-72 set a new standard for MBTs in USSR, a success story that saw many variants, license production abroad and countless export derivatives. By the 1980s, it was still by far the best and most current soviet proposition for an MBT of reasonable cost and technological level, compared to the T-64/T-80. It was also an excellent base for improvements, and an export success. The T-72B was considered, back in 1983, the very best of the series, and served for gradual upgrades, like the T-72BA fitted with the 227 “Kontakt-1” ERA, T-72B obr.1989g (Kontakt-5 ERA) and obr.1990g from which was derived the T-72BU, the direct ancestor of the T-90. This does not prevent two more upgrades to be brought in the post-soviet era, the T-72BM “Rogatka” in 2006 and the T-72B3 in 2013, basically a T-72B upgraded to the T-90 standard.
T-90 MBT

The T-80U

The other crossing which inspired the conception of the T-90 was the T-80U, the very elite MBT of the Russian army. The paradox was that it was costlier than the T-72, much ended to be built (5400) than the T-90 which was seen at first as a simple evolution of the T-72B, at first called the T-72BU. The T-80 itself was a derivative of the controversial, revolutionary T-64 back in the 1960s. This “elite” lineage came from the Ukrainian KMDB design bureau and led later to build a purely Ukrainian variant, the T-84. It must be recalled that the T-80 was the first Soviet MBT fitted with a turbine, in addition to its regular diesel engine. The latter was rushed out and caused much turmoil and reliability issues, which had to be fixed on the long run. However thanks to this, the T-80 was the fastest Russian MBT ever.
The T-80U appeared in 1985 and was given a full Kontakt5 explosive reactive armour set, along with an improved gunsight and the brand new 9K119 Refleks gun missile system. Five year after its introduction it was given a 1,250-hp engine. It was on this base that the T-90 was partially modelled: Although the core of the T-72B was kept, many components came from the T-80U. By this, engineers Kartsev and Venediktov from the Uralvagonzavod design bureau tried to create a “universal tank”. We know how often these prospects have failed by the past. Indeed the T-90 did not met all the expectations placed in it but was overall more reliable and cheaper to built, maintain and operate than the T-80.

Development history

In 1992, came out a crucial decision from the Russian Ministry of Defence that Russian culd not afford anymore to manufacture, maintain and upgrade two main battle tanks in parallel. However both the T-80U and T-72B production were seen as essential for the local economy of the manufacturers, and the government was found forced to maintain small orders. Indeed, the Omsk plant delivered only five T-80Us while Nizhny Tagil had fifteen T-72s in the meantime, but both expected further orders to came, or eventually to be chosen for the unique MBT projected. The only common ground found then was their third generation add-on ERA armour set called Kontakt-5, shared between the two MBTs.
Among considerations involved were the export policy of the Russian tank industry that leaned strongly towards the T-72 as its champion. but at the same time it was chosen to give it the T-80U sophisticated fire control system, resulting in the T-72BU variant. In the end, the BM was renamed BU after 1990 modifications, and then known as the T-90 program, further developed by the Kartsev-Venediktov Design Bureau (Uralvagonzavod) in Nizhny Tagil. The resulting production hybrid in 1992 was to be built chiefly in Nizhny Tagil, but with components manufactured at Osmk, a plan that seemed to reach general agreement between the state and parties involved.
Basically, the production model was unveiled in 1992 as the T-88 prototype, featuring a 830 hp (620 kW) diesel engine. The preserie was launched in 1993. It also featured an upgraded version of the Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armour on the hull and turret, but had overall the conventional layout of the well-proven T-72. However every single system and sub-system aspect of the T-72 saw improvements, so the general final T-90 product of 1994 could be seen as a well-upgraded variant. One of these modifications also includes the the main gun.
rear view
T-90 rear view.
After the start of a mass-production, the T-90S was chosen as an export model, with the usual downgrades. The T-90 was also remarked for its singular “three-tiered” protection level, comprising composite armour (turret), Kontakt-5 (Mark II) ERA and Shtora-1 countermeasures system with a set of evolved smoke mortars and other refinements. This combination really sets apart the T-90 from the previous T-72 MBTs and really incarnates the 3rd generation MBT concept in Russia. The production had eventually ceased in 2015, after the T-14 was first revealed and its own production was scheduled to start in early 2016. By then, around 2260 had been built, which was the lowest production observed for any Russian/Soviet MBT, at a unit price tag of $2.5 million (1999), equivalent to 4.25 million USD in 2011. The T-90MS price was evaluated to 4.5 Million $.
T-90 MBT in 2012
T-90 MBT in a public demonstration in 2012

Design of the T-90


The first production version was given basically the same engine than the T-72BU a proven V12 V-84MS diesel giving an output of 840 hp. It was coupled to a 1 kW AB-1-P28 auxiliary power unit which served several subsystems on board, without starting the main engine. This was enough for this 46 tonnes MBT to reach speeds up to 60 kph and around 45 kph cross-country, due to a power to weight ratio of 18.1 hp/tonne (13.5 kW/tonne). The transmission was manual, with 7 forward gears and 1 reverse. This power was passed onto the ground by the same drivetrain than the T-72B, six doubled cast roadwheels per side, and three return rollers, resting on torsion bar suspensions.
12 cyl diesel T-90
Range was around 550 km with internal capacity of 1.200 L + 400 L auxiliary. Ground pressure was 0.91 kg/ Performances were as follows: Fording depth 1.2 m on the move without preparation, and up to 5 m with full preparation and OPVT (snorkel). It was capable to cross a trench 2.8 m wide, a vertical obstacle 0.85 m high, climb a maximum gradient of 30° and stay stable with a maximum tilt of 30°. Like all previous Soviet MBT the T-90 had a simple engine smoke generator. There was also the traditional beam attached to the rear, used for extra grip on the most muddy/snowy terrains. With the addition of additional armour and equipments, the weight rose to 1-2.5 tons and new engines were developed like the 1,000 hp V-92S2 diesel, and eventually the 1,250 hp V-96, giving a 26.3 power-to-weight ratio. Top speed was around 65 kph (governed) but acceleration and torque were much improved.
T-90 in a demonstration of its Snorkel.


Kontakt-5 ERA, 3rd generation at ET 2010
T-90 at ET-2010, Kontakt-5 ERA 3rd generation
The T-90 rested on a three levels protection. First, there was the original T-72 hull, made of welded steel RHA and 50-150 mm strong in direct line of sight. Second, there was a composite level, integrated into chiefly the turret front and sides, well known by the Western experts “Dolly Parton”. It was extremely efficient as proved by tests made in the early 1990s. However it was not enough for the latest generation of “sabot” rounds, super-high velocity APFSDS ammunitions. Therefore in the 1980s was developed the Kontakt Explosive Reactive Armour suite made of explosive bricks. The T-90 adopted the latest ERA suite, Kontakt-5 of the third generation in 1993. At the end, the protection provided against APFSDS was equivalent to 550-650 mm RHA with the basic composite armour, which rose to 800–830 mm with the Kontakt-5 ERA. Against HEAT it was 1,000 mm, but reached 1,150–1,350 mm with Kontakt-5.
Also, there was a supplementary “active” form of protection with the mandatory smoke mortars, using 2×6 81mm electric dischargers, firing a wide variety of 3D17 smoke grenades, acting like decoys against enemy infrared sights and ATGM guidance systems. Most importantly, the T-90 was given the Shtora-1 electro-optical jammer. This system jams semiautomatic command to line of sight (SACLOS) for antitank guided missiles, laser rangefinders and target designators. The Shtora was found most effective when used in combination with a hard kill system such as the Arena. The Shtora is also used by the T-80U/UK and the T-84.
T-90/Turret front view


It rested on the 125mm 2A46M-2 and later 2A46M-5 smoothbore main tank gun. The latter was assisted by a 2E42-4 Zhasmin two-plane electro-mechanical stabilization system, and could fire 6-8 rounds/min. Ammunition storage consisted in 43 rounds, 22 ready-rounds in the carousel below the autoloader system and the others into the hull. The autoloader is basically of the same model developed for the T-72B and allowed to reduce the turret size considerably. There is an autoselector which can rapidly select APFSDS, HEAT and HE-Frag rounds depending of the threat. There is also a hunter-killer mode, the commander can instantaneously passed the target coordinates to the gunner/ballistic computer that lays the gun while concentrating on the next target. The estimated FCS performances are a very high first hit capability on the move at 30 kph off-road, and ranges of up to 5,000 m, including low visibility.
The ammunition were also news for the most, here is the detail:

  • 3BM-44M APFSDS (range 4,000 m)
  • 3BK21B (DU liner), 3BK29 (800 mm RHA equ.), 3BK29M (Triple-tandem charge)
  • 3OF26 HE-FRAG with the Ainet fuse setting system

This fuse allows to detonate this ammunition at a specific distance by the laser rangefinder for maximal impact on low-flying helicopters and infantry. In indirect mode, this round has a practical range of 10,000 m.
The gun was also made capable of firing also ATGMs, the 9M119 Svir and 9M119M Refleks-M (AT-11 Sniper-B). This is a 16.5/17.2 kg projectile with a 4.5 kgs Tandem hollow-charge warhead and an effective range of 4,000/5,000 m. it can fly at 350 m/sec for a maximum of 17 seconds, and is capable of defeating up to 900 mm of RHA equivalent. It is compatible with the 2A45 Sprut sb gun. The Svir/Refleks is also used by the Serb M-84AS, T-80, T-84 and is licence-built for the Chinese PLA Type 98 and the next generation of Indian MBTs. Now it is replaced by the improved 9M119M1 (Invar-M).
T-90s Kord Heavy machine gun remote control mount

The secondary armament comprised the usual roof-mounted 12.7 mm Kord Heavy machine gun, which was however remotely-controlled on an AAMG mount Utjos NSVT, with 300 rounds in store. The coaxial armament was the 7.62mm PKMT light machine gun, with ammunition box carries 250 rounds, and a total of 2000 rounds in store. The main gun was conceived to fit and to be retired from the turret through the mantlet without lifting the turret itself up, quite an advantage on the battlefield.


The hull is equipped with the collective full NBC protection system, with a slight overpressure. In addition there is a GO-27 NBC recon system, and for safety the 3ETs13 Inej automatic fire extinguisher. In option, the T-90 could receive a self-dig-in blade the OPVT deep fording equipment, KMT-7 or KMT-8 mine sweeps kits and optional air conditioner for use in the middle east and for the export versions.
The fire control systems count a 1A45T Irtysh computerized system. Night vision systems comprised the TO1-KO1 Buran-PA main sight with the TPN-4-49-23 passive/active II with an effective range of 1.2/1.5 km. In late production models, this system was replaced by the ESSA (Thales Optronique Catherine-FC TI), also shared by the Leclerc MBT.
interior of TC compartment
The gunner sight is the 1A43 rangefinder, coupled with the 1G46 day sight, the 9S517 missile guidance system for the ATGMs. The turret/gun sensor that feed the 1V528-1 ballistic computer is the DVE-BS wind gauge. The tank commander is given a PNK-4S system, comprising the TKN-4S Agat-S day/night sight (range 800/700 day/night), while the driver is given the TVN-5 IR night/low visibility sight. In addition to the already powerful Shtora countermeasures system, there is a “Nakidka” thermal/radar/optical shroud. Radio equipment comprised the R-163-50U emiter/receiver, while a R-163-50U and a long range R-163-50K are installed on the command type T-90K. For navigation, there is a TNA-4-3 for the command tank T-90K inertial system, replaced in later batches by a TNA “Gamma” GPS/GLONASS system.


The T-90 was called T-72BU until the arrival of the T-90A. This first production was supplemented by the T-90K (Command version) equipped with an extra R-163-50K radio set and the TNA-4-3 navigation equipment. The T-90E was the first export version, downgraded accordingly. However no order was placed.
The T-90A appeared in 1999. For the first time, it featured a fully welded turret of the Object 187 experimental MBT; forever breaking the long tradition of cast turret in MBT design. It is called “Vladimir” in honour of T-90 Chief Designer Vladimir Potkin, died the same year. Details of the new protection provided by this configuration (most probably composites) has not been undisclosed. In addition, this version received the new Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant’s 1000 hp V-92S2 diesel engine and a modern Thales ESSA thermal viewer. The T-90AK is the usual command version.
T-90AT-90A MBT firing.
The T-90S is the export version, produced by Uralvagonzavod. They receive the 1,000 hp (750 kW) engine but were in effect deprived of the Shtora-1 passive/active protection system. They also have apparently two different turret armour arrays. In cyrillic, it is shown T-90C. The T-90SK command version was also proposed to export with upgraded radio and navigation equipments, plus the Ainet remote-detonation system for HEF rounds. The T-90S “Bhishma” is a modified T-90S with Indian specs.
The T-90AM is the latest occurence (2010s), featuring a complete rebuilding of the turret, equipped with the new advanced FCS “Kalina” completed by a new ballistic computer and integrated combat information and control systems with digital displays for updated battlefield awareness. There is also a new automatic loader, safer and with a faster reloading rate, coupled to an upgraded gun 2A46M-5 main smoothbore gun. The T-90AM is also the first MBT to receive as secondary armament a dedicated rapid-fire remote-controlled anti-aircraft gun “UDP T05BV-1”, of 20 mm caliber. It is capable to engage helicopters and low flying aircrafts.Protection is also upgraded wioth the new ERA set Relikt, replacing the old Kontakt-5. Lastly, it is equiipped with the latest iteration of the venerable deseil, the V96 1130 hp engine. The turet receive extra diital cameras and captors for an enhanced environmental control system especially tailored for urban combat, and a completely upgraded satellite navigation system.
T-90SM at RAE 2013
T-90SM at RAE 2013
The T-90MS is the export version of the latter, comprising a PNM Sosna-U gunner sight, UDP T05BV-1 RWS remote-controlled 7.62 mm LMG, GLONASS inertial navigation system and ERA (undisclosed type). The turret also includes a new removable turret bustle (additional storage for eight rounds).
T-90S MBT, the export version


  • BREM-72 Armoured recovery vehicle.
  • MTU-90 Bridge layer tank with MLC50 bridge.
  • IMR-3 Combat engineer vehicle.
  • BMR-3 Mine clearing vehicle.

MTU-90 AVLB in action
MTU-90 AVLB in action


Azeri T-90 in a parade in Baku, 2013.


The only country in Maghreb (North Africa) to operate the T-90SA. The army took delivery of 305 T-90SA tanks in a 2008 first batch was delivered, followed by a second by 2013.


The newborn republic adopted naturally the T-72UMG and the T-90SA as their main battle tanks. 100 T-90SA are currently in service, 100 others are in option.


The Indian army not only adopted the T-90, it was also built under licence as the T-90AM Bhishma. As for 2015, 862 T-90S were procured in three separate orders, in 2000 and 2006 (300+300). The third order was locally built by Heavy Vehicle Factory (HVF) at Avadi. 24 tanks were delivered by the plant in 2009-10, 51 in 2010-11, and 50 in 2012. Total order is 1,000 by 2020. There is an additional purchase of 354 T-90MS to equip six tank regiments facing the Chinese border. The grand total expected by 2020 will be around 2011 T-90s of all types. The well-upgraded, 3rd/4th generation MBT T-90MS is also called locally Bhishma II.


Turkmenistan operates forty T-90S, delivered in 2010 (10) for approximately $30 million followed by another batch of thirty.


The only black African country to operate this cutting edge, placed an order for 100 T-90S in 2010 ($340 million contract).
T-90M Bhishma in exercises. Notice the three different liveries.

Active service

In 1995, the Russian Defence Ministry decided to favour the T-90 over the T-80. The latter was indeed was faster and more advanced but also was much more expensive to maintain, with a complicated, delicate and fuel-hungry gas turbine engine. In addition T-80BV performed poorly in during First Chechen War urban combat phases. In September 1995, 107 T-90 had been produced so far and were stationed in the Siberian Military District and Far Eastern Military District the next year. The 1999 T-90A or “Vladimir” was the first with fully welded turret entered service. The T-90A saw combat action in the 1999 Chechen invasion of Dagestan. According to official army reports, one T-90A survived seven RPG hits. Publications of the time argues that the T-90 is the best protecting tank, comparing the effectiveness of the combination of passive/active protection with the overlapping Shtora and Arena systems.
By 2007, 334 T-90s were in service with 5th Guards Tank Division stationed in the Siberian Military District, while seven T-90 served in the Navy. In July 2008, Rosoboronzakaz (the defence contracts federal service) announce the introduction of the T-95 in 2009, however to budget cuts, the program was shut down and cancelled in may 2010 as it was decided to proceed on the T-90 upgrade and the T-14 program instead. As of today an estimated 930 T-90A. Earlier models had been upgraded to this standard. Only a few T-90AM were built but its not known if it will impact the upgrade of the earlier models until 2020. However it sis much likely that the T-14 Armata being much costier and too cutting edge to be exported, T-90MS and its future iterations would be the main export Russian MBT in the next future.
Russian Arms Expo 2011 – Some T-90s and IFV firing heat decoys.

T-90 related links

The T-90 on Wikipedia

Video Documentary about the T-90 (Ru)

T-90/A/M specifications

Dimensions (L-w-h) 6.55(9,530 oa) x2.32 x2.04 m (21.4 x7.6 x6.7 fts)
Total weight, battle ready 45.7 Tonnes (91,400 lbs)
Crew 3 (TC, driver, gunner)
Propulsion See notes. V-84/92/96 12-cyl. diesel 840/940/1250 hp
Power/weight 18.1/20.4/26.3 hp/ton
Top Speed (dep. of engine) 42-65 km/h (37-40 mph)
Range (dep. of engine) 550-700 km (340-430 mi)
Armament Main: 2A46 125 mm sb gun + ATGM
Secondary: 12.7mm Kord Heavy machine gun, 7.62mm PKMT
Armor See notes. Dolly Parton+ERA Kontakt 5+Shtor
Total production Approx. 2,260


T-90/ Moskow 2013 Victory day parade
A T-90/ in Moskow, may 2013 Victory Day Parade or the red Square.
cutaway view
Cutaway view of the T-90. Origin unknown (from the web)
T90A at the 2012 Engineering Technologies day2A46M1 smoothbore gunT-90S BhishmaT-90A at the 2013 tank bihatlonT-90A in the 2009 victory paradeT-90 courtesy of army-recoignition.netT-90A 2012 paradeT-90S TurmenistanT-90MS at RAE 2013T-90MS at the 1012 Engineering Technologies dayT-90S BhishmaT-90S BhishmaT-90A at ET 2012T-90A at the victory parade RehearsalT-90 in may,9, Moskow paradeT-90/T-90S export version at ET 2010T-90A at ET 2012T-90, rear view 2012

Soviet T-72B with Kontakt-1 ERA in the late 1980s, for comparison.T-80 MBT
The T-80B, also for comparison. Some elements like the FCS were shared with the T-90.T-76BU
T-72BU MBT in 1992.
T-80U for comparison
T-90, early production version, with the 850 hp engine.
T-90 at the Omsk VTTV Exhibition of 1999.
T-90 of the Russian Army in 2003.
T-90, 19th motorized brigade, North Caucasus District.
T-90, 27th separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade, motorized military district of Moskow.
T-90K, command version.
T-90A MBT, unknown unit.
27th Sep Guards Moskow District
T-90A, 27th Separated Guard Rifle Brigade Moskow Military District.
19th Motorized Rifle Brigade, Caucasus Military District
T-90A, 19th Motorized Rifle Brigade, Caucasus Military District.
T90A desmonstrator
T-90AS “Eagle” demonstrator.
T-90A, unknwown unit, 2000s.
Azeri T90S
Azerbaidjani T-90S .
T90 Bhishma
Indian T-90S Bhishma.
T-90MS, the modernized export version (2014).

modern Russian armor


Russia (1990)
Light IFV – 137 built

The last generation of Soviet airborne IFV

USSR experimented perhaps more than any nation the concept of airborne armored warfare. This was born from the tactical school of “deep battle” revisited and modernized after the “great patriotic war”, and refined during the cold war. The BMD-1 (1969) was the first airborne IFV to be built, judged more satisfactory that simple open-air tankettes like the ASU-57 or the airborne tank hunter ASU-85. It was replaced by the visually similar BMD-2 in 1985, which was a bigger machine altogether, much heavier (11.5 tons vs 7.5 tons) and larger.
For the third generation of the type, Volgograd tractor factory design bureau designed a new, heavier vehicle centered around the same turret as the BMP-2, with a modified crew compartment, taking lessons from the Afghan war which showed that a two-man turret was way better in operations. Studied came out in 1985 as the Object 950. Six prototypes were built in 1985-86, tested and refined, and the BMD-3 entered in service and standardized production in 1990 with the VDV, just during the collapse of the Soviet Union.


In 1981-82, two options for the VDV were studied, on the same time frame that the BMP-3 which showed that only one could be transported by an Il-76 transport plane. The first option was to replace the ASU-85 and obtain a compromise tank-IFV armed with a 100 mm 2A70 rifled gun and a coaxial 30 mm 2A72 autocannon (the whole weighing over 18 tonnes) or to adopt the BMP-2 combat module with its 30 mm 2A42 autocannon. In that case, the weight could be decreased to 12.8 tons and three could be loaded inside an Il-76.
The Council of Ministers of the USSR and the CPSU number 451-159 decided over the preliminary studies to favor the second option, and work started at the appointed Volgograd tractor factory (VgTZ) under the name code “Bakhcha” on May 20, 1983. Building on the experience gained on the BMD-1 and “Object 934” light tank, three prototypes were built in 1985 and three more in may 1986 to detect and correct numerous technical deficiencies and an excess weight of 190–290 kgs. The new prototypes still were in excess of 400 kgs but the problems with the running transmission gears were fixed. State tests took place between 27 October 1986 and 27 October 1987, then two vehicles passed a series of climatic zones tests in 1988.


The Object 950 was eventually accepted and standardized on 10 February 1990 for production, which began slowly, with only five vehicles in 1990, 25 in 1991, and consequently because of the collapse of USSR and disruption in the supply of parts, even finances, production was marginal at 15 in 1992, 27 in 1993, 35 in 1994, 15 in 1995, 9 in 1996, and only 6 in 1997. With the exclusion of the prototypes, 137 vehicles were built. However, there are plans to launch a sizeable production of the upgraded BMD-4M.


The BMD-3 was still a cold war design, largely inspired by the BMD-2, but with a main difference. It was using the turret of the BMP-2 for commonality of parts, training, and because of the good performances of the 30 mm 2A42 autocannon. The steel turret was also much roomier and could be operated by two men. Like the previous vehicles, the hull was made of welded aluminum alloy to save weight. Protection was maximal against heavy MG rounds on the front and turret (around 12-13 mm) and sufficient against small arms fire and splinters on the sides and rear.
There were an automatic fire extinguisher and over-pressurized NBC protection. In addition, the turret had two banks of three 81 mm smoke dischargers to provide IR protection. A smoke screen can be obtained by injecting diesel fuel into the exhaust. An ERA protection kit (of French type) was later provided but rarely used due to the danger for the nearby infantry with such system. At the front, the driver (center), vehicle commander (behind, right, with cupola), and gunner (left) took place, with four seated infantrymen in the center compartment.
Two of them are provided with hatches and pistol ports. The upper rear compartment is reserved for the storage of extra ATGMs, ammo and the filter-ventilation unit. But in case of emergency, this can be jettisoned, for an extra accommodation of 8 soldiers in total.
The 30 mm 2A42 autocannon could fire at 200/300 rpm with a muzzle velocity of 960 m/s at 2000 m range. It could fire on the move due to a 2E36-3 weapons stabilizer (elevation & azimuth). Thanks to a 75° elevation the main armament can be used against low-flying aircraft and helicopters. It could fire armor piercing-tracer and high explosive-incendiary rounds. It is coupled with a PKT LMG, both served by a BPK-1-42 combined sight type. Secondary armament comprised a 30 mm AGS-17 grenade launcher with 500 rounds for infantry support (front left, bow), a 5.45 mm RPK-74 machine gun (front right, bow) to deal with infantry (2600 rounds), and a 9M113 Konkurs (NATO AT-5 Spandrel) ATGM.
The latter can be swapped for a Fagot (NATO AT-4 Spigot) thanks to a common 9P135M launcher. The launcher has 3 ready-to-use missiles plus 2 stowed inside the vehicle. The practical range of the Fagot is 2000 m to 2500 m on the Fagot-M (able to defeat 550 mm of RHA) and 4000 m for the konkurs (750–800 mm of RHA, doubled on the Konkurs-M tandem warhead). There is also an option to fire NATO’s MILAN.
The engine, main clutch, gearbox, final drives and brakes are located to the rear compartment. The drivetrain comprised five standard lightweight hollow roadwheels, four return rollers, rear drive sprocket and front idler, per side. The suspension is individual and hydropneumatic, with a hydrostatic steering mechanism providing a ground clearance ranging between 130 and 530 mm, and allowing an extra elevation/depression if needed. This allowed the tank to be fastened more easily on a platform for paradropping.
Thanks to a 2V-06-2 water-cooled diesel engine which develops 450 hp (331 kW), the Power/weight ratio is of 34.9 hp/tonne (25.7 kW/tonne), and top speed of 70 km/h (43 mph) on paved roads, 45 km/h (28 mph) off-road. It is 10 km/h (6.2 mph) when swimming. In this case, propulsion is assured by two waterjets, and it can take damage when swimming, still buoyant even being 30% filled, and equipped with pumps. The maximal range is 500 km (310 mi) on flat. Tests revealed it could climb a 60% gradient or 30% side slope.


  • BMD-3K The command version adopted in 1996 but never produced.
  • 2S25 (Object 952) Self propelled gun in service by 2005, armed with a 125 mm 2A75 smoothbore gun with a 500 hp engine and 6 roadwheels per side. Production unknown.
  • BTR-MD “Rakushka” (Object 955) multi-role, modular transport vehicle in development. The derived BTR-MDM is based on the BDM-4M.
  • RKhM-5 (Object 958) Chemical reconnaissance vehicle introduced in 2011. Turretless, with the same equipment as the RKhM-4 (BTR-80). Tested in 2012.
  • BMD-3M (Object 960) The modernized version, later modified as the BDM-4 (see below)
  • BMM-D Command and ARV version, lengthened (7 roadwheels), 510 hp engine (2S25). In development.

The BMD-4

Started as an improvement over the BMD-3 (BMD-3M) it was later called BMD-4. It has a modified chassis, the new “Bakhcha-U” turret common to the BMP-3 with a 100 mm 2A70 rifled main gun, 30mm 2A72 autocannon, 7.62 mm coaxial LMG and the new “Ramka” FCS as well as a bow-mounted AGS-30 RL. A small production/conversion of BMD-3 was followed by the BMD-4M: New chassis, 500 hp UTD-29 engine (BMP-3). Production by Kurganmashzavod (KTZ), first presented in March 2008. After evaluation in August 2011, adoption was confirmed in 2012.

Active service & operators

USSR: Only a few (see production), passed to Russia. Russian Airborne Troops are equipped with 100 BDM-3s as of 2012, and perhaps 60 BMD-4, while the BMD-4M entering full scale production and service today. The remainder could be either converted to BMD-4 or exported. Indeed, apart Russia, Angola apparently received some vehicles in 2012 (“Angolan army ground forces military equipment” July 2014). The BMD-3 was not battle tested yet. The VDV plan to acquire 1,000 BMD-4Ms by 2020 so the BMD-3 looks like a transition vehicle.

BMD-3 related links

The BMD-3 on Wikipedia

BMD-3 specifications

Dimensions (L-w-h) 6 x 3.13 x 2.45 m (19.8 x 10.3 x 8 fts)
Total weight, battle ready 12.9 Tons (xxx lbs)
Crew 3+5 (8 in emeregency)
Propulsion 2V-06-2 wc diesel 450 hp (331 kW) pwr 34.9 hp/t
Speed (land/water) 70 kph (43 mph)/10 kph (6.2 mph)
Range (on flat) 500 km (310 mi)
Armament Main: 1x 30 mm 2A42 autocannon with 500+360 rds
Sec: 1x 7.62 mm (0.3 in) PKT coax LMG, 5.45 mm RPK-74 LMG
9M113 Konkurs ATGM (4 reloads), 30 mm AGS-17 grenade launcher.
Armor Aluminium Alloy max 13 mm (0.5 in)
Total production 137

BMD-3 in early green livery (1990) showing its maximal hydropneumatic depression. It is 2.17 m (7 ft 1 in) high in this configuration
BMD-3 in the standard 3-tones summer/spring pattern.
BMD means “Боевая Машина Десанта”, Boyevaya Mashina Desanta or “Combat Vehicle of the Airborne”. It is showing the winter grey variant of the regular 3-tone pattern.


A BMD-3 at the 2009 Omsk VTVT exhibition
A BMD-3 at the 2009 Omsk VTVT exhibition
BMD-3 four view drawing – the blueprints
The BMD serie side by side