Armor: Russian T-95 Put To Sleep


September 14, 2010:  Earlier this year, Russia officially halted development on their new T-95 tank. This decision is not sudden, because for the last two years the military has been getting more money for replacing the Cold War equipment. The T-95 was talked about as a symbol of rejuvenation. This was badly needed, as the Russian Army shrank over 80 percent in the 1990s, and for fifteen years, practically no new equipment was purchased.

When more money did come in, the generals sought to revive the T-95 project. Work on this new tank began in 1995, but didn't get far because the military budget could barely cover food and fuel costs. But some work continued, and a prototype was completed in 2000. Few details were released. But two years ago, Russian media (mostly state controlled these days) began running stories about a new "super-tank" being developed. No real details given, just lots of superlatives. Mentioned was the Uralvagonzavod tank factory, which was known to be developing a "T-95" tank (again, no details). All that is being written about the super-tank is that it could move at a top speed of 60 kilometers an hour, had facilities that enable the crew to stay in the tank for 24 hours at a time, and possessed the ability to destroy any existing tank, while itself having unique protection (this apparently meant "active defense" in the form of small missiles that intercept incoming anti-tank missiles, as well as explosive reactive armor). Even after the cancellation, there are still no details, and the T-95's manufacturer apparently will preserve prototypes and other materials, just in case.

Currently, the most modern tank Russia has is about 500 relatively new T-90s. The T-90 is a highly evolved T-72. Originally, the T-90 was created as a fall-back design. The T-80 was supposed to be the successor to the T-72. But like the T-62 and T-64 before it, the T-80 didn't quite work out as planned. So the T-72, with a much improved turret and all manner of gadgets, was trotted out as the T-90. Weighing 47 tons, the T-90 is still the same dimensions as the T-72. Same package, better contents. And with well trained crews, it could be deadly.

The stock T-72 is a 41 ton vehicle that is 7.4 meters/23 feet long, 3.6 meters/11 feet wide and 2.45 meters/7.5 feet high. In contrast, an American M-1 is 62 tons, 10 meters/32 feet long, 3.7 meters/12 feet wide and 2.6 meters/eight feet high. The extra weight is mostly armor, and from the front, the M-1 is still very difficult to kill. To survive, a T-72 not only needs to accessorize, but requires a well trained crew. Most nations using T-72s don't like to invest in crew training. But that's what makes the most difference in combat. Russia plans to train its T-90 crews more intensively, which will make more of a difference than a T-95.

Most of the 20,000 tanks in the Russian army are T-72s and T-80s. Both are mainly target practice for Western tanks (M-1, Leopard, Challenger, Leclerc). The T-90 is a bit better, but the "T-95" was always a mystery, and apparently had a lot of tech that didn't work yet. Russia planned to replace most of those T-72s and T-80s with T-90s and T-95s, by 2025. After that, the new T-95 super-tank would start replacing the T-90. Or something like that. The Russians hoped to have the T-95 in action by 2020. Now, the plan is to have at least a few thousand T-90s in the next decade. That won't come easy, as T-90s cost about $2.5 million each.





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