Pro-Russian propagandists have been quick to cheer the destruction of any Western-made hardware supplied to aid Ukraine. Such was certainly the case earlier this year after Kyiv saw several of its German-made Leopard 2 main battle tanks disabled on the battlefield. A similar sentiment was expressed after the destruction of the first British Challenger 2 MBT.
Those propagandists were silent, however, after a video circulated on social media showing the destruction of yet another Russian T-90M Proryv-3.
Both sides have lost a significant number of tanks. But it is notable that the Leopard 2s and the sole Challenger 2 that have been disabled were left largely intact.
By contrast, the recent video showed the T-90M with its turret blown clean off.
The Russian MBT was destroyed in recent fighting in the Luhansk region, between the villages of Makiyivka and Ploshchanka. According to Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, the T-90M was one of 25 enemy tanks destroyed by Ukraine in four days.
As the UK’s Telegraph newspaper reported, the loss of the T-90 will likely embarrass the Kremlin, which has touted the capabilities of this very expensive tank — costing around £4 million ($4.9 million).
Ukraine’s Tank Hunters
Syrskyi said the T-90M was destroyed by an anti-tank guided missile from the 66th Mechanized Brigade.
The footage, recorded by a Ukrainian drone, showed the Russian MBT moving swiftly across the side of a field when it came under fire. The T-90M took a direct hit from a man-portable anti-tank weapon, and its turret was blown off — the result of the so-called jack-in-the-box effect caused by ammunition stored beneath the turret.
Russia’s Most Advanced Tank
The T-90M Proryv-3 is the most advanced Russian tank in mainstream service, as the highly touted T-14 Armata has only been produced in limited numbers.
The Proryv-3 is the latest variant of an MBT that first entered into service with the Russian Army in 1994. The upgraded T-90 tank has been vastly improved in terms of protection, mobility, and firepower. The Proryv variant is armed with a 125mm 2A46M-4 smoothbore gun that is capable of firing standard ammunition as well as 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.
This 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 tank is 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.
An unknown number of T-90s have been sent to Ukraine. According to data from the Oryx OSINT group, which has tabulated destroyed, damaged and missing vehicles in the ongoing conflict based on visual confirmation, Russia has lost 27 T-90Ms to date. An additional 18 have been damaged.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, 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.