Skip to content

Russia Showcases New T-90MS Tagil MBT

September 19, 2011

Russian T90MS MBT

It’s quite a stretch to call the Tagil new, especially when hundreds of T-90 images are available for comparison. But the fact remains that during this month’s Nizhny Tagil arms expo, a yearly event where Russia’s various ground-based weapons are exhibited, a minor evolutionary step forward in Russian tank design had occurred.

To scrutinize the available photographs closely reveals a MBT whose improvements set it apart from its peers. Note the newly designed turret, automated machine gun, and extensive side skirts. No information is available on its fire control system and countermeasures. The inclusion of standoff armor is also a surprise, especially since they cover the back of the turret and the engine exhaust.

The remarkable part is the T-90MS Tagil could be a prototype rather than a new generation MBT. This month a high level Russian defense official announced that two new models called the T-95 and T-99 are scheduled to enter service starting 2014.

Both MBT programs are veiled in secrecy, though features to look out for may include a larger caliber gun (152mm?), new electronics, new power plant, and an extensive reinvention of the armor package.

Russian T90AM MBT

Seen above is an illustration of the T-90AM, a different variant that does bear similarities with the MS, notably the modified turret, standoff slat armor, and the extensive side skirts.

The introduction of both the T-95 and the T-99 also bodes ill for Russia’s other tanks like that are still fielded in large numbers. The thousands of T-72’s and T-80’s could be mothballed or sold in bulk once their replacements arrive.

As for the Tagil? It’s unknown if it will become a mainstay in Russia’s armored divisions or serve as a proof of concept for further development. Despite this, it’s an impressive fighting machine.

Note: The T-90MS Tagil will now be referred to as the T-90S Modernized Main Battle Tank, which is the designation used by its manufacturer, as explained in a new post.