Critical miscalculation of the Ministry of Defense. Consequences of limiting the supply of T-90M "Proryv-3" to combat units
Details of the preparations announced by the Russian defense department as part of the fulfillment of the state defense order for 2021 for the delivery of about 200 modernized main battle tanks T-72B3, T-72B3M, T-80BVM, as well as more advanced MBT T-90M Proryv- 3 ”provided extremely serious food for thought to the expert and review communities.
In particular, only 13-15% (about 25-30 vehicles) of the total number of vehicles to be supplied to tank battalions, falling on the promising T-90M "Breakthrough-3", once again eloquently illustrated the disappointing tendency towards maintaining insufficient combat stability of motorized rifle regiments of the SV Russia in the key operational areas of the European conditional theater of military operations.
This alignment is due to nothing more than a whole range of gaps in the "armor protection" of the frontal projection of the T-72B3 / B3M tanks, for which the specialists of the General Staff and the Russian Defense Ministry, for quite understandable reasons (the cost of upgrading one T-72B to the B3 mod. 2016 / B3M is about 725-800 thousand dollars against 4.5 million dollars of the cost of the advanced T-90M), placed great hopes in resolving the issue of a hasty renewal of the tank fleet of motorized rifle units covering the Pskov, Kaliningrad and Leningrad regions in the Baltic operational direction.
Modern FCS and high firepower without proper armor protection will not provide the T-72B3M with domination in tank duels of the XXI century
So, despite the equipping of combatant T-72B3M MBTs with quite modern digitized tank information and control systems (TIUS) with an open architecture, more accurate 125-mm smooth-bore guns 2A46M5 with a 15-20% increase in the accuracy of fire and a 70% decrease in the total dispersion when firing on the move (achieved thanks to the integration of an optoelectronic barrel bending meter / CID into the design of the gun and the use of backlash-free trunnion blocks), as well as the Sosna-U advanced multispectral and multichannel gunner sights, the armor protection of the frontal projection of these vehicles is still leaves much to be desired.
With the 4C22 elements of the Kontakt-5 universal built-in DZ complex, the standard frontal armor plates of the T-72B3M towers (represented by obstacles / niches of special armor made of “reflective sheets” with an equivalent resistance from BOPS of the order of 540-550 mm) received an increase in the equivalent resistance from armor-piercing feathered subcaliber projectiles of kinetic action of the order of 20%, reaching an indicator of 650 mm.
In the context of the implementation of the escalation scenario in the European theater of operations, where in the course of tank duels a potential enemy can use the M1A2 SEP v.3 MBT, the improved Leopard-2A7 modification, as well as the promising Challenger Mk.3 MBT, this level of armor protection will be absolutely insufficient ... After all, the M829A3 / E4 and DM63 armor-piercing feathered sub-caliber projectiles used by the 120-mm M256 and Rh-120 / L55A1 tank guns have armor penetration of the order of 770/900 and 830 mm, respectively. And even earlier M829A1 and M829A2 will be able to easily overcome all T-72B3M frontal barriers at a distance of 1700-2000 m, because in this range of distances their armor penetration is 650-720 and 740-750 mm, respectively.
As for the advance use of the Reflex complexes from a distance of 5-4 km against the aforementioned enemy MBTs of the 9M119M1 Invar-M1 tank guided missiles from a distance of 5-4 km, the effectiveness of this pre-emptive fire is highly questionable, because all of the above vehicles will be equipped with Trophy active protection systems. or "Iron Fist", capable of intercepting such anti-tank shells.
Therefore, hypothetical close-range tank battles (with the use of BOPS) with the newest versions of the Abrams, Leopard-2 and Challengers-2 cannot be avoided by our weakly protected T-72B3 / B3M.
In this disappointing situation, when the program of deep modernization of the T-72B to the level of the T-72B2 / BM "Slingshot" ("Object 184M") was shelved and eventually frozen, the only objective solution can be only the intensification of large-scale production and accelerated delivery in combat units of the MBT T-90M "Breakthrough-3", the equivalent resistance of the frontal projection of which varies in the range from 870 to 1100 mm, countering the armor penetration of the latest American and German BOPSs.