T-90's qualities are emitted from their small stature, including short silhouette, great maneuverability, cheap production costs, etc.
The 3 Isles of Tank dominance comes from Firepower, Protection, and Mobility.
The 3 Isles of Battlefield dominance comes from Quality, Quantity, and Strategy.
Tank Dominance is apart of the Quality Topic.
In the Sub-Topic of Tank Dominance, how things stand.
The T-90A has an 840 HP diesel engine (the newest model has a 1,200 HP engine), can carry a maximum of 1,600 liters of fuel with external tanks, and can travel 650 km with that fuel, which equates to an impromptu fuel efficiency of 2.46 liters per km. The T-90 has a ground pressure of 0.91 kg/cm2
. The Top speed of the T-90 is 65 kph on road. The T-90 can ford 1.2 m of water unprepared, traverse a 2.8 m long trench, and climb over a 0.85 m tall obstacle. The T-90 has an APU.
The Arjun has a 1,400 HP diesel engine and can carry 1,610 liters of fuel, which will allow it to travel 450 km, which equates to an impromptu fuel efficiency of 3.58 liters per km. The Arjun has a ground pressure of 0.84 kg/cm2
. The Top speed of the Arjun is 72 kph on road. The Arjun can ford 1.2 m of water unprepared, traverse a 2.43 m long trench, and climb over a 0.91 m tall obstacle. The Arjun has an APU.
The Leopard 2A6 has an 1,480 HP diesel engine, and can carry 1,200 liters of fuel internally which would allow it to travel 450 km, which equates to an impromptu fuel efficiency of 2.7 liters per km. The Leopard 2A6 has a ground pressure of 0.83 kg/cm2
. The Top speed of the Leopard 2A6 is also 68 kph on road. The Leopard 2A6 can ford 1.2 m of water unprepared, traverse a 3 m long trench, and climb over 1.1 m tall obstacle. The Leopard 2A6 has an APU.
If in question is the T-90M with a 1,200 HP engine, than HP/Weight ratio wise, they would all be roughly equal, with each tank having a HP/Weight ratio of 24. However, if not in question is the T-90M, than the T-90 will be struck down. But I will be using the T-90M has the comparison. Fuel efficiency wise, the T-90 is somewhat superior to the Leopard 2A6, and outright superior to the Arjun. Speed wise, they're all quite close to each other, with only a 7 kph difference between the farthest kids off the field. However, the Arjun is capable of the fastest speeds, and is thus superior in that sub-category. Ground pressure is an indicator to maneuverability, specifically traverse speeds. The Leopard 2A6 and the Arjun are quite close to each other in this sub-category, with only an 0.01 kg/cm2
difference between the two. The T-90 is a bit sluggish compared to the two in this sub-category. Obstacle clearance wise, they are all equals in the Fording capability point, but the size of the larger tanks allow them to traverse taller obstacles and longer trenches, which allows the Leopard 2A6 to pull through on the Obstacle clearance sub-category. They all have APUs, so everyone wins there.
Visual Breakdown of Mobility Comparison:
- Horsepower/Weight ratio|Superior|Superior|Superior|
- Fuel Efficiency|Superior|Inferior|Inferior|
- Maximum Speed|Inferior|Superior|Inferior|
- Ground Pressure|Inferior|Superior|Superior|
- Obstacle Clearance|Inferior|Inferior|Superior|
- Auxillary Power Units|Superior|Superior|Superior|
T-90 - 3 Superiors
Arjun - 4 Superiors
Leopard 2A6 - 4 Superiors
(for this section, I will be using Rolled Homogeneous Armor Equivalency to compare the tanks and I will be using data over it's Frontal Arc)
The T-90 uses a 2nd or 3rd generation Composite armor called, "Combination-K" along with Kontakt-5 ERA for Frontal protection. It has up to 920 mm of RHAe v.s. KE projectiles on it's Frontal Turret, and 710 mm of RHAe v.s. KE projectiles on it's Glacis. It has up to 1340 mm of RHAe v.s. HEAT on it's Frontal Turret and about 1,030 mm of RHAe v.s. HEAT on it's Glacis. The T-90M is equipped with Shtora-2 Passive Defense System which protects the T-90 from laser-guided ATGMs. The T-90 also has Nakidka camouflage, which reduces a Gunner's ability to detect the T-90. Finally, the T-90 has several 81 mm Smoke-grenade launchers, which disrupts a Thermal Imager's ability to aquire the T-90.
The Arjun also uses Composite armor, called "Kanchan" armor. The Arjun has up to 570 mm RHAe v.s. KE projectiles on it's Frontal Turret and 410 mm of RHAe v.s. KE projectiles on it's Glacis. It has up to 830 mm of RHAe v.s. HEAT projectiles on it's turret and up to 730 mm of RHAe v.s. HEAT projectiles on it's Glacis. An Additional NERA layer is being developed for the Arjun but I have not took that into account as no estimate of it's capability has delivered itself to me. The Arjun has the ALWCS protection suite, which provides similar capabilities to the Shtora jammer and Smoke grenades on the T-90. The Arjun also has the Mobile Camouflage System to conceal it's presence.
The Leopard 2A6 uses 3rd Generation Composite armor. It has up to 940 mm of RHAe v.s. KE projectiles on it's Frontal turret and 620 mm of RHAe v.s. KE projectiles on it's Glacis. The Leopard 2A6 also has up to 1,960 mm of RHAe v.s. HEAT projectiles on it's turret and 750 mm of RHAe v.s. HEAT projectiles on it's Glacis. The Leopard 2A6 has spall liners. The Leopard 2A6 also has 76 mm smoke grenade launchers that can conceal the tank from Thermal Imagers.
The Arjun seems inadequate in terms of RHAe when compared to the other two tanks. However, the T-90 achieves it's relatively high RHAe ratings from it's usage of Kontakt-5 ERA, which provides 250 mm of RHAe v.s. KE and 600 mm of RHAe v.s. HEAT alone. If one were to strip a T-90 of it's ERA, it's baseline protection is inferior to the Arjuns and down-right paper compared to the Leopard 2A6. The T-90's Turret protection v.s. KE is on par with the Leopard 2A6's protection on the turret, with only 20 mm deviation. Turret protection v.s. HEAT wise, the Leopard 2A6 reigns supreme over the other two comparison tanks. Glacis KE protection wise, the T-90 holds a small lead over the two tanks. The T-90 also holds a clear lead in Glacis HEAT protection compared to the other two tanks. Additional protection from other types of weapons seems to be equal between the T-90 and the Arjun, but the Leopard 2A6 lacks some of those additional protection. I should note that in a study on tank round impact probabilities done in 1991 after the Gulf War, showed that 60% of tank rounds tend to impact 1.5 m off the ground. For the T-90, that means 60% of the rounds will hit the Front Turret, at about the same height of the Gun. For the Leopard 2A6, that means 60% of the rounds will hit on the upper part of the Glacis. For the Arjun, that means that 60% of the rounds will hit at about the lower Front Turret, parallel with the mantle.
Visual Breakdown of Protection Comparison:
- Turret Protection v.s. KE|Superior|Inferior|Superior|
- Turret Protection v.s. HEAT|Inferior|Inferior|Superior|
- Glacis Protection v.s. KE|Superior|Inferior|Inferior|
- Glacis Protection v.s. HEAT|Superior|Inferior|Inferior|
- Anti-ATGM capability|Superior|Superior|Inferior|
T-90: 5 Superior
Arjun: 2 Superior
Leopard 2A6: 2 Superior
Fire Power specifications:
The T-90 has an 125 mm L/48 smooth bore gun with an autoloader capable of firing at 8 rounds per minute. It can fire APFSDS, HEAT, HE-FRAG, and ATGM munitions. The 3BM-42M is the projectile designation of the APFSDS the T-90 can fire. It's projectile is made of Tungsten and weighs 4.6 kg, and it's projectile will travel at 1,750 meters per second with about 60 meters per second velocity drop per km. It's estimated to penetrate 650 mm of RHAe at 2 km. The 3BK-31 is the projectile designation of the most modern HEAT round that the T-90 can fire. It has a Triple-tandem charge, and is credited with a penetration of over 800 mm of RHAe. The 9M119M Reflex is the designation for the ATGM that the T-90 can fire. It is a Tandem-charge HEAT projectile with a range of 6,000 m and is guided by SACLOS. It's penetration is about 900 mm of RHAe, and over 1,000 mm of RHAe if ERA is not present. For Fire control, the Commander has the CATHERINE-FC 3nd Generation Day/Night thermal sight, which can ID a tank at night over 2.3 km and ID a tank at day at over 8 km.
The Arjun has an 120 mm L/50 rifled gun with a manual loader capable of firing up to 8 rounds per minute. It can fire APFSDS, HE, HEAT, HESH and ATGM rounds. The APFSDS round (unknown designation) has a Tungsten projectile. All other figures are unknown to me. It's penetration estimate is 650 mm of RHAe at 2 km. The Arjun's HEAT round is unknown to me. The LAHAT ATGM is a SALH guided Tandem-HEAT round. It has a maximum range of 8 km but could be extended to 13 km if the terrain allows. It's warhead is capable of penetrating over 800 mm of RHAe, and about 900 mm if ERA is not present. The Commander of the Arjun has a Day/Night Thermal imager from Bharat Electronics. It's capabilities are unknown to me but are presumably similar to the T-90's capabilities.
The Leopard 2A6 has an 120 mm L/55 smooth bore gun with a manual loader capable of firing at 4 rounds per minute sustained and up to 10 rounds per minute if you have a strong loader. It can fire APFSDS, MPAT, and ATGM rounds. The DM63 is made of Tungsten and weighs about 5 kg estimated. It will travel about 1,730 meters per second from the L/55 with a velocity drop of about 55 meters per second per km. It's estimated penetration is 720 mm of RHAe at 2 km. The MPAT round is designated the DM12 is a Tandem-HEAT round which can penetrate about 650 mm of RHAe. The Leopard 2A6 can also fire the LAHAT, to which's specifications are above (penetration of 800 mm of RHAe and 8 km maximum range). The Commander and Gunner has a 3rd Generation Day/Night thermal imager from Rheinmetall Defense Electronics. It has a maximum range of 10 km, and presumably a maximum ID range at night of 2.5 km and a maximum ID range at day of 8 km.
Although information in regards to Indian systems aren't as forthcoming as I like it to be, it's safe to assume that the Arjun's Sensor capabilities are slightly superior to the T-80s, to which it was derived from. Knowing this, the T-80's Day/night Thermal sight, the 1G46 PERFECT Day sight and the AGAVA-2 night sight, which has ID ranges of about 5 km and 1.5 km respectfully. Knowing this, I'll magically upgrate the Arjun's unknown performances to 150% of what the T-80 had, so the Arjun's sensor capabilities will be 7.5 km Day ID range and 2.25 km Night ID range. You can throw this part out if you want, at least until the Arjun's sensor data are found.
The German long rod DM63 round pulls out as the top performer in the APFSDS sub-category, with about 70 mm more penetration than the APFSDS rounds of the two tanks. The Russian 3BK-31 is the god-king in the HEAT sub-category, and you shouldn't blame it, as the Triple-tandem charge is a rarity in the world. I should note that it was designed to penetrate the many different layers of a Composite armor array. Although the Russian 9M119M round has slightly superior penetration, the LAHAT has a farther range than the Reflex, so thus, the LAHAT is the better ATGM. Fire Control wise, the German electronics by far pulls out ahead of the rest of the competitors, in Night ID sub-category. They're all roughly tied in the Day ID sub-category. Finally, the T-90 still has the best in the rate of fire category, as it's auto-loader ensures consistency, while Human manual loaders can vary depending on level of fatigue, size of the person, etc.
Visual Breakdown of Firepower Comparison:
- KE Penetrator|Inferior|Inferior|Superior|
- HEAT Penetrator|Superior|Inferior|Inferior|
- ATGM round|Inferior|Superior|Superior|
- FCS - Daytime ID range|Superior|Superior|Superior|
- FCS - Night Time ID range|Inferior|Inferior|Superior|
- Rate of Fire|Superior|Inferior|Inferior|
T-90 - 3 Superiors
Arjun - 2 Superiors
Leopard 2A6 - 4 Superiors
T-90 - 11 Superiors
Arjun - 8 Superiors
Leopard 2A6 - 10 Superiors
Conclusion and Notes:
I should note that I have left several facts and additional analysis out of this report. The clear height advantage of the Leopard 2A6 (0.8 meters taller than the T-90 and 0.7 meters taller than the Arjun) allows it to take advantage of the terrain better, by situating itself in the Hull-down position more often. This tactic, will expose the Front Turret of the Leopard 2A6 to enemy fire, which happens to be the most protected part of the Leopard 2A6. I have also left out Maintenance from this report, as information regarding these tanks are already scarce (save the Leopard), my attempts at finding breakdown averages bared no fruit. But you should take note of these maintenance failures. The Fire Control System of the Arjun tank seems to malfunction at temperatures over 42 degrees Celsius, and there are reports of the T-90S malfunctioning due to the heat in the Indian deserts. I have also left out Gun-accuracy from this equation, simply because I could not find the max deviations for the guns in question.
Overall, the "best" tank of the 3 is the T-90, with the Leopard 2 pulling a close 2nd. The game changer was the Protection levels, to which the T-90 had an advantage on because of the Russian's habit of spamming ERA on their tanks. The T-90 also happens to be the cheapest, worth about $2.2 million USD a piece, compared to the $3.7 million USD that the Arjun is worth and the $5.8 million USD that the Leopard 2A6 is worth. So to sum it up, the T-90 is a nice tank.
Arjun from Wikipedia
T-90 from Wikipedia
Leopard 2 from Wikipedia
Leopard 2 from fprado.com
T-90 from Vasiliy Folfanov's Tank page
Tank Protection Levels site
Random Indian Defense Blog
CATHERINE FC brochure