April 7, 2003
While Russia cannot afford to buy a lot of new Russian tanks, two models, the T-80U and T-90S are being offered for export. The T-80U is a 46 ton vehicle with a 125mm smoothbore gun (and 45 rounds of ammo) that fires discarding sabot, HE, HEAT and 9M119 laser guided missiles (max range 5,000 meters). Max rate of fire for the main gun is 8 rounds a minute using an autoloader. The tank is 23 feet long, 11.8 feet wide and 7.3 feet tall. The armor thickness is not given, but it is composite and not as thick as found on Western tanks (like the M-1). In recognition of this, the tank is also provided with ERA (Explosive Reactive Armor.) This is thought to give the tank protection equal to the M-1, but no actual tests of this are known to have been conducted. The tank also has reduced heat design, to help hide it from heat seeking sensors. There is also an auxiliary power unit for running the combat systems when the tank is stopped, and modular design that makes maintenance easier. The engine is a 1250 horsepower gas turbine and internal fuel will carry the vehicle 335 kilometers at 40 kilometers an hour cross country. Top road speed is 70 kilometers an hour. The autoloader means only a three man crew is needed. The gunner has a thermal night sight. Like older Russian tanks, the interior is cramped, and anyone over 70 inches tall is going be uncomfortable. Price is not given, but is negotiable, and is generally not lower than a million dollars a tank. The T-90S weighs in at 46.5 tons and has the same weapons as the T-80U, but carries only 42 rounds for the main gun. The tank is 22.6 feet long, 11 feet wide and 7.4 feet tall. It is powered by a 840 horsepower diesel (with a 1000 horsepower engine optional). This tank is actually an upgraded T-72. It has a more elaborate defense systems against anti-tank missiles. Most other characteristics are similar to the T-80U. Price is 20-30 percent less than the T-80U.
Sales have been modest so far. The Indians have purchased around 300 T-90s and the Pakistanis fielded the diesel-engined variant of the T-80U. The Cypriots purchased 41 T-80Us in 1998 and the South Koreans have a handful of T-80s they took in trade for Russian debt forgiveness.