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Ukraine-U.S. Partnership on Display: Russian T-90A Tank Handed Over to United States

Based on images shared on the “Walter Report” Twitter account on April 13, 2023, Ukraine has delivered a Russian T-90A Main Battle Tank (MBT) to the United States. This tank had been captured and utilized by Ukrainian defenders before being transferred to the United States.

According to data published by the British Intelligence Services, repurposed captured Russian equipment and combat vehicles now constitute a significant portion of Ukraine’s military arsenal. It is estimated that Ukraine has captured approximately 440 Russian main battle tanks and around 650 other combat vehicles since the invasion.

Looking back in history, following the collapse of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, the United States and several NATO countries swiftly retrieved Russian-made equipment and armored vehicles previously used by East Germany. Additionally, during the Gulf War, the United States amassed a substantial amount of Russian-made military equipment.

Receiving captured Russian vehicles from Ukraine holds interest for the United States due to various reasons. One reason is that it allows the U.S. military and intelligence agencies to conduct a technical analysis of the vehicle, acquiring valuable information on its design, capabilities, and vulnerabilities. This information can be utilized to develop countermeasures and tactics to neutralize or exploit these vehicles in potential conflicts.

Another reason is that studying captured vehicles provides insights into the tactics and strategies employed by Russian forces or their proxies, which can enhance the training and preparedness of U.S. and NATO forces. Moreover, physical access to a captured vehicle enables U.S. engineers to reverse-engineer its components and systems, potentially leading to the development of new technologies, upgrades for existing platforms, or countermeasures to neutralize enemy capabilities.

According to information available on the internet and social media, the T-90A tank was spotted on a vehicle transporter manufactured by the American company Globe Trailers. It was photographed in Roanoke, a town situated around a hundred kilometers from Fort Polk, where the U.S. Army’s Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) is located. The JRTC’s mission is to ensure the operational readiness of light infantry units in conditions closely resembling real-world scenarios.

Based on the markings on the tank, the T-90A belonged to the Russian army’s 27th Motorized Rifle Brigade when it was captured near Kharkiv in September 2022.

The Russian T-90A, produced by the Russian company Uralvagonzavod, is a main battle tank (MBT) and an upgraded version of the T-90 tank, itself a modernized variant of the Soviet-era T-72 tank. The T-90A entered service with the Russian Armed Forces in the late 1990s and has been exported to various countries worldwide.

The T-90A boasts several improvements compared to its predecessors, including enhanced armor protection, a more powerful 125mm 2A46M-5 main gun, and an upgraded fire control system. It is equipped with a 1,000-horsepower V-92S2 diesel engine, allowing the tank to reach a top speed of around 60 km/h (37 mph) and travel approximately 550 km (342 miles) on a full tank.

In terms of protection, the T-90A combines composite armor, explosive reactive armor (ERA), and a “Shtora” electro-optical active protection system designed to disrupt incoming guided anti-tank missiles. The tank’s low profile and advanced camouflage capabilities also make it more difficult for enemy forces to detect and target.

The T-90A is further equipped with the Shtora-1 electro-optical active protection system, developed in Russia, which utilizes sensors and countermeasures to detect, track, and disrupt incoming threats.

The T-90A’s robust armor system is designed to safeguard the crew and vehicle from various threats, including kinetic energy penetrators, shaped charges, and high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds. The primary armor consists of a composite material comprising layers of steel, ceramics, and other materials. This composite armor provides superior protection against a wide range of threats compared to conventional steel armor.

Additionally, the T-90A is fitted with Kontakt-5 ERA, an add-on armor consisting of explosive-filled panels. When struck by a projectile or shaped charge, the explosive within the panel detonates, countering the incoming threat and reducing penetration into the main armor. This system is particularly effective against HEAT rounds and shaped charges.

The T-90A’s armor technology is of interest to U.S. intelligence for various reasons. One reason is to enable U.S. intelligence and military officials to gain insights into the protective capabilities of Russian main battle tanks by studying the composition and effectiveness of the T-90A’s armor. This knowledge is crucial in assessing the potential threat posed by these tanks and developing appropriate countermeasures.

By examining and reverse-engineering the T-90A’s armor, U.S. researchers can also identify innovative materials and design techniques that could be incorporated into the development of future U.S. armored vehicles. This has the potential to enhance the protection and survivability of American tanks and other armored platforms.

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