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Tank Deathmatch: Russia’s T-90M vs. Carl Gustav Rocket Launcher (Who Wins?)

Ukraine Russia
Russian T-90 Tank. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Russian T-90M Destroyed by Swedish Carl Gustav – The Ukrainian military has reportedly blown up a second Russian T-90M main battle tank – one of the most advanced MBTs currently to have been deployed into combat. The destruction of the T-90M comes just days after the first such MBT was destroyed in the conflict.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense shared a video on social media (see below) earlier this week that provided an aerial view of the tank in the far distance just before it was struck and then engulfed in flames. A Swedish-made Carl Gustaf man-portable anti-tank grenade launcher was reported to have been used to destroy the Russian T-90M near Staryi Saltiv in Ukraine’s Kharkiv oblast.

The official Defence of Ukraine (@DefenceU) shared the video on Twitter, with the caption, “Near Stary Saltiv, Kharkiv Territorial Defense fighters eliminated another new T-90M ‘Breakthrough’ tank. The pride of the Russian tank industry was destroyed by the Swedish hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher Carl Gustaf. We thank the Swedish people and the King for their help.”

The 20-second clip has been seen more than 650,000 times since it was posted on Tuesday.

The Not So Mighty T-90

The T-90M “Proryv-3” is an upgraded version of Russia’s most-employed MBT – the T-72, which has led the fighting in Ukraine. The T-90M is equipped with enhanced protective capabilities that include the “Shtora” (curtain), an electrical jammer fitted to MBTs that deploys smoke grenades when the tank is being targeted by a missile to make it harder to hit, as well as infrared lights designed to ‘dazzle’ the guidance system of incoming rockets.

In addition, the T-90s have also been fitted with reactive armor tiles that are similar to Russia’s other tanks and which are designed to explode when struck, and which can throw incoming projectiles off target. The advanced MBTs also feature composite armor that was designed to be tougher than its predecessors and are equipped with an improved engine that provides it better maneuverability, especially over rugged ground.

Carl Gustaf

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Hunter Cross, a native of Midlands, Mich., and a combat engineer with 2d Combat Engineer Battalion, 2d Marine Division, fires an M3E1 multipurpose anti-armor anti-personnel weapon system (MAAWS) on Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 9, 2021. The MAAWS, also known as the Carl Gustaf, is a man-portable, reusable, breech-loading, 84 mm recoilless rifle capable of destroying armored targets. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brian Bolin Jr.)

Carl Gustaf

Carl Gustaf Firing: Sky Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment engaged targets with the Carl Gustaf 84mm weapon system in Grafenwoehr, Germany September 8, 2018 during Saber Junction 18. Exercise Saber Junction 18 is a U.S. Army Europe-directed exercise designed to assess the readiness of the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade to execute unified land operations in a joint, combined environment and to promote interoperability with participating allies and partner nations.

Carl Gustaf’s Revenge

The Ukrainian military has been relying on several anti-tank systems, including the American-made FGM-148 Javelin and the British/Swedish-developed NLAW. However, this week, it appeared that the Carl Gustaf 8.4cm recoilless rifle was proving itself quite deadly against the Russian armor.

The man-portable, multi-role weapon system provides dismounted soldiers with the ability to effectively deal with multiple challenges on the modern battlefield. It was first introduced in 1948 and has been steadily upgraded over the past 74 years. It has seen use in countless wars in that time.

Known by a number of colorful monikers including the Charlie G, Carl G and the Charlie Swede – it was developed and is produced by SAAB Bofors Dynamics at Sweden’s state arsenal Carl Gustafs Stads Gevärsfaktori, which was founded by the 17th century Swedish King Charles X Gustav (Carl Gustav). Charles X Gustav was the second Wittelsbach King of Sweden, and led his nation during the Second Northern War, which resulted in the expansion of the Swedish Empire.

T-90

T-90M Tank from Russia. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The latest version of the rifle, the Carl Gustaf M4, was introduced in 2014. It can fire a wide range of 84mm munitions, including high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds. It has an effective range of up to 400 meters against tanks, and 700 meters against buildings and stationary targets.

Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Sigurd

    May 13, 2022 at 2:55 am

    It does not discredit Ukrainian defenders, they are fighting for a good cause, but here is an example of inaccurate information. This tank was probably damaged by a rocket from Karl Gustav but was killed by a tank standing behind it. As you can see in this video.A cloud of dust blows up from the tank behind the T90M and then the T90 explodes

    • Local

      May 14, 2022 at 3:10 pm

      That smoke cloud is too big and too far from the second tank (could be artillery). And you can see a dust trail from the grenade flying into the tank from right (where the tank’s cannon is facing).

  2. B. NILSSON

    May 13, 2022 at 3:47 am

    The Carl Gustav is produced by Saab Bofors Dynamics in Karlskoga, Sweden, since the early 90’s.

  3. aldol11

    May 13, 2022 at 6:20 am

    tanks are going to go the way of battleships

  4. Darrell E Matthies

    May 14, 2022 at 1:25 pm

    Headline is wrong also, it’s a recoiless rifle.
    It doesn’t launch rockets!

  5. Alex

    May 15, 2022 at 11:29 am

    A demobilized French soldier, author of the book “Get up and go thanks to science” Adrien Boke went to Ukraine on a humanitarian mission and spent three weeks there.

    Upon his return, he decided to convey to the French information about the events he had witnessed in Ukraine.

    “I take full responsibility for what I say. While in Ukraine, I witnessed war crimes. All of them were committed by the Ukrainian army. But in France we don’t talk about it!

    When I returned to France from Ukraine, I was shocked: TV channels invite as experts people who have not been to Ukraine and do not know anything about what is happening there now. However, they dare to speculate about these events. Between what I hear from the TV screen and what I saw with my own eyes is an abyss.

    Azov fighters are everywhere. With neo-Nazi stripes. It shocks me that Europe is supplying weapons to neo-Nazis. Not only do they not hide their views. They advertise them. I worked with these people and treated them.

    Being there, there was nothing I could do. Just watch and make videos. I have this footage and will use it as evidence of Ukraine’s crimes.

    I witnessed how the Ukrainian military shot through the knees of captured Russian soldiers and shot in the head higher-ranking officers.

    I have personally seen American videographers making fake footage from the scene of the events staging.

    All destroyed civilian buildings, given out by Ukraine for bombardment of civilians, are nothing more than the result of inaccurate shooting by Ukrainians at military facilities.

    The Armed Forces of Ukraine hide ammunition in residential buildings at night, without even informing the residents. This is called using people as a shield, ”Boke quotes one of the French media.

    The Washington Post recently drew attention to the fact that Ukrainian troops are placing military equipment in residential areas of cities in an attempt to counter the Russian Armed Forces, which threatens the lives of civilians.

    Boke also spoke about the untruthfulness of Western media reports about the events in Bucha.

    “Bucha is a staging. The bodies of the dead were moved from other places and deliberately placed in such a way as to produce shocking footage, ”the French author noted.

    The documents confirming this were submitted to the Federal Security Service – how, who – there are relevant intercepts – on what transport he came to this settlement and created the conditions for organizing this provocation.

    Soon all the collected evidence about the crimes of the Nazis in Ukraine will be seen by the whole world. And the most important thing is the help of Western countries to the Nazis of Ukraine and assistance in their crimes.

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