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From Battlefield to Showcase: Ukraine Presents United States with Captured Russian T-90A Tank

According to images released on the Twitter account of “Walter Report” on April 13, 2023, Ukraine transferred a Russian T-90A Main Battle Tank (MBT) to the United States. This tank was seized and utilized by Ukrainian defenders before being handed over to the United States.

As per information published by the British Intelligence Services, repurposed captured Russian equipment and combat vehicles now constitute a significant portion of Ukraine’s military hardware. Ukraine is estimated to have captured at least 440 Russian main battle tanks and around 650 other combat vehicles since the invasion.

In the past, following the collapse of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, the United States and several NATO countries swiftly acquired Russian-made equipment and armored vehicles used by East Germany. During the Gulf War, the Americans also procured a substantial quantity of Russian-made military equipment.

The transfer of captured Russian vehicles from Ukraine holds interest for the United States for several reasons. One such reason is that it allows the U.S. military and intelligence agencies to conduct a technical analysis of the vehicle, acquiring valuable information regarding its design, capabilities, and vulnerabilities. This information can aid in the development of countermeasures and tactics to neutralize or exploit these vehicles in potential conflicts.

Another reason is that studying captured vehicles can provide insights into the tactics and strategies employed by Russian forces or their proxies, thereby enhancing the training and preparedness of U.S. and NATO forces. Additionally, having 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 online sources and social media, the T-90A was spotted on a vehicle transporter produced by the American company Globe Trailers. It was photographed in Roanoke, a town located around a hundred kilometers from Fort Polk, where the US Army’s Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) is situated. The JRTC’s mission is to ensure the operational readiness of light infantry units in realistic conditions.

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

The Russian T-90A, developed and produced by the Russian company Uralvagonzavod, is a main battle tank (MBT). It represents an upgraded version of the T-90 tank, which itself was 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 since been exported to various countries worldwide.

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

In terms of protection, the T-90A employs a combination of 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 further enhance its stealthiness, making it more challenging for enemy forces to detect and target.

The T-90A is also outfitted with the Shtora-1 electro-optical active protection system, developed in Russia, which enhances the tank’s survivability against guided anti-tank missiles. This system utilizes sensors and countermeasures to detect, track, and disrupt incoming threats.

Moreover, the T-90A main battle tank incorporates a robust armor system designed to shield the crew and vehicle from various types of threats, including kinetic energy penetrators, shaped charges, and high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds. The primary armor of the T-90A consists of a composite material comprising layers of steel, ceramics, and other materials. This type of armor provides superior protection against a wide range of threats, including kinetic energy penetrators and shaped charges, when compared to conventional steel armor.

In addition to its composite armor, the T-90A is equipped with Kontakt-5 ERA, an add-on armor system consisting of explosive-filled panels. Upon impact by a projectile or shaped charge, the explosive within the panel detonates, countering the incoming threat and minimizing penetration of the main armor. This system proves particularly effective against HEAT rounds and shaped charges.

The armor technology of the T-90A could be 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 T-90A’s armor composition and effectiveness. This knowledge is crucial for assessing the potential threat posed by these tanks and developing suitable countermeasures.

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

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