TechT-90m's fatal flaw: Russian tank's spinning turret dooms invasion

T‑90m's fatal flaw: Russian tank's spinning turret dooms invasion

T-90M destroyed in Ukraine
T-90M destroyed in Ukraine
Images source: © X, @GloOouD

12:44 PM EDT, May 27, 2024

The T-90M is regarded as the best tank available to Russian forces participating in the invasion of Ukraine. According to representatives of the Russian army and Vladimir Putin himself, these machines were expected to be so advanced that even NATO could envy them. However, the ongoing conflict has revealed that the T-90M faces many issues, particularly concerning its turret.

The Ukrainians have successfully destroyed numerous T-90M units. Most successful attacks have been captured on video, often showing the tank's turret spinning uncontrollably. Some journalists and analysts refer to this phenomenon as the "spinning turret syndrome," which renders the tank ineffective in combat and, in most cases, hinders safe evacuation from the battlefield. Consequently, T-90Ms are often abandoned, giving the Ukrainians the opportunity to "finish them off,” usually by dropping grenades from drones.

T-90M tanks have problems with the turret

Such problems have not been observed with other Russian tanks. So far, the exact cause of these issues remains uncertain. Based on recordings of attacks, the turrets of T-90M tanks start to malfunction sometimes, even after being hit by relatively low-impact weapons, such as kamikaze drones.

Some analysts suggest that the issue may be related to the fire control system, which may send false signals due to optical damage. It is also worth noting that T-90M tanks are equipped with an electric turret rotation mechanism. While this mechanism is much faster than the hydraulic alternative, it is also more complex and can fail if its electronics are defective.

Earlier reports from the Ukrainians may support these assumptions. Analyzing units captured by the Russians, it was found that the T-90M suffers from numerous flaws. The tanks have weaker engines than specified, difficulties in radio communication, and low-durability microelectronics. This has led to claims that the T-90M is a "failure instead of a breakthrough."

Vladimir Putin refers to the T-90M as the "best tank in the world." Although the war in Ukraine shows that it falls short of this claim, it remains significantly more dangerous than other tanks available to the Russian forces. It is the newest model in the T-90 family, originating in 1992. The T-90M features a 2A46M-5 125mm cannon with the Kalin fire control system, two machine guns (7.62mm and 12.7mm), and construction reinforced with modular reactive armor Relikt.

The value of each T-90M tank is estimated to be around $4.5 million.

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