Can the underfloor autoloader be modified with armored bulkheads and underfloor blow off panels?
Hard to say... you would have to calculate the explosive force of all the ammo exploding... as I said if it is HE rounds and they actually detonate then blow out panels are of no use.
If it is a propellent explosion then having blow out panels either to the sides and or to the rear would allow the propellant force be directed away from the crew... but I suspect such an arrangement would make the vehicle more vulnerable to explosions under the hull from IEDs and mines... equally the ammo would have to be fully sealed off from the crew compartment... which would make loading or unloading rather harder than it already is.
An advantage of the Burlak arrangement is you could potentially open the top and just place rounds into that autoloader... then run the autoloader and move them from the turret bustle autoloader to the underfloor autoloader... once that is filled you can just top up the empty spaces in the bustle and also load up the extra long penetrators that don't fit in the underfloor cells and you are ready to go.
If this was the case the entire area around the underfloor autoloader could be sealed off from the crew, which would be safer for the crew.
The whole purpose behind the underfloor autoloader is that this is one of the safest places in the tank... they normally don't get hit there so it is a very safe place to put the ammo.
In comparison, a turret bustle autoloader is exposed to enemy view and fire and is not normally very well protected... but in this case can be considered expendable.
With no loose rounds in the crew compartment having ammo in the underfloor autoloader and the turret bustle autoloader such a T-90 upgrade would have lots of ready to use ammo and a rather decent separation of ammo and crew... the only practical improvement would be a binary liquid propellent system with tanks in the rear hull and either side of the driver... with the underfloor autoloader and the rear turret autoloader no longer holding propellent stubs the auto loaders could carry twice as many projectiles... 44 underfloor and 62 in the rear turret autoloader... 106 ready to fire rounds....
How expensive would it be to create a hull matching the dimensions of the T-14 Armata (with the Armata turret) but using the armour and electronics of the latest T-90AM? Would this T-14 Armata lite be reasonable in terms of cost?
I am not privy to Russian tank building programmes, but I would suspect each project feeds off the other... I suspect advances in the armata would be applied to the T-90AM and indeed vice versa where appropriate.
In such a case I suspect systems developed for the Armata might already be being used in a smaller or simpler form for the T-90AM and any new technology found to work with the T-90AM might also be further upgraded and adapted for the Armata and Kurganets and Boomerang and Typhoon for that matter.
What I do suspect will be the next step is robot T-90AM... which means serious weight reduction for the turret and hull because there is only ammo and fuel to protect... the issue will be giving situational awareness for the crew so they can operate it effectively... some sort of helmet mounted 3D simulator based on real time camera video feed to allow the crew to feel like they are in the vehicles they are driving... without the bumps and bruises of course...
T-90, and T-72B3 as well, are obviously quite outdated as primary MBTs.
Quite true but perfectly adequate with APS and modern ERA to operate in environments where RPGs and TOWs are the main threat.
Even in a conflict with NATO not all NATO members are created equal and a mix of manned and unmanned vehicles would be fine.
In fact their comments about hanging on to old stock could be a reference to using rather older tanks... in a remote control mode, you could run them up to an enemy position... I don't think the enemy will notice the difference between a 125mm main gun or a 100mm rifled 2A70 gun with a couple of hundred shells in its unmanned turret. (100mm HE rounds are very compact... even a BMP-3 can carry 40 rounds just in its turret ring autoloader... a further 8 guided missiles are also carried in a tiny BMP-3 turret... in a big turret in an old T-72 they could carry rather more ammo. and being unmanned... who cares if it explodes... from 7km it can rain shells on target positions if need be. In closer it can be quite accurate.
Putting aside for a moment crew protection issues, they suffer from substandard.not fully automatic transmissions, not powerful enough powerpacks, and an internal geometry limiting APFSDS penetrator' lenght.
The new model T-72s have 1,100hp engines and the T-90s have 1,300hp engines which is plenty for tanks that weigh less than 50 tons... the upgraded vehicles also have modern transmissions too and considering more than half the ammo they carry are HE rounds then I don't think there would be a problem with long rod penetrators... BTW the internal geometry of every tank limits is penetrators length... the question is, does that limit performance...and the answer would have to be no because there are no 125mm rounds that are too long to be used in the T-90AM, so it does not effect performance.
About APFSDS very little could be done, but transmissions and powerpacks, determining tactical mobility, agility and driver's performances, could still vastly improved.
None of those problems exist with the T-90AM... the T-90AM was intended to fix all the problems of the vehicle and they did... the mobility and agility of the tank is not in question...
They don't call it the flying tank for nothing.
It may well be pointless for Russia but considering that Russia will not be selling the T-14 Armata for at least another 10 years... a foreign military would find that a T-14 Armata lite significantly surpasses tanks like the M1a2 Abrams.
The T-90AM is not "outdated"; it has an autotracker, a video processor and makes use of ERA that provides comparable armour protection of significantly heavier Western MBTs. The T-90AM already has greater off-road speed than the Abrams.
Used sensibly the T-90SM export model of the AM is every bit as good as anything you could get from a western country... and that is what it is for.
All it needs now is 3 axis stabilisation, a fully automatic transmission, underfloor blow out panels and the Burlak turret; the Burlak turret would allow it to use the longer and obscenely powerful Vacuum sabot rounds. Components from the T-14 Armata including APS, mission computers, tactical data-links and the BMS would take it to yet another level.
It is already good enough... if you are going to make it like an Armata you might as well sell armata.... and they should hang on to that themselves.
The T-90SM is perfectly good enough for any country on the planet... on its own it wont help Fiji invade the US, but in decent numbers it would be perfect for countries like India or Iran or Iraq for anything they might want it for.
Like I said if Fiji wants to invade the US then the T-90SM is not up to scratch but then no tank would get them what they wanted from anywhere.
At least most recent iterations could be made a wonderful tool for motorized divisions, upgrading sights, tranmissions, APS at a reasonable cost.
What is this shit about faulty transmissions?
They already have upgraded sights and systems and their transmissions are fine.
I read somewhere that the blow-out panels on the M1A2 are not that thick.
They can't be... their purpose is as a release valve to let pressure out of the turret before it builds to dangerous levels.
A rifle bullet dropped on the fire... when it heats up to a point where the propellant ignites and pop the projectile is pushed out of the shell case and the gas escapes... the weight of the projectile and light weight of the shell case normally means the shell case pops off the projectile... it might move a few centimetres...
For a real bang you need a rifle chamber and barrel where the burning powder can build up pressure and there is a bang when the expanding gas blows past the projectile as it leaves the muzzle...
Question: How thick could the underfloor blow-out panels on a T-90AM be by comparison? IEDs could cause the ammunition in the underfloor autoloader to explode up into the crew compartment but I imagine that explosive charges would direct the exploding ammo downwards.
Explosives and propellant are different things... an IED under a vehicle will shatter light plate... an explosion will go through a blow out panel... that is what a blow out panel is for to release pressure and reduce the effect of the expanding gas cloud.