In a significant move to bolster its armored capabilities against emerging aerial threats in Ukraine, the Russian army has taken delivery of advanced T-90M Proryv and T-72B3M Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) with enhanced turret protection. This development was disclosed on VK, a leading Russian social network, on October 11, 2023.
Uralvagonzavod, the Russian tank manufacturer, has for the first time handed over these upgraded tanks to the Russian armed forces. The primary objective behind this enhancement is to increase the tanks’ protection against UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), FPV (First-Person View) drones, and loitering munitions, commonly referred to as kamikaze drones. These fortified tanks are set to be deployed in Ukraine.
The need for such upgrades was underscored in August 2022 when the Army Recognition editorial team reported on the unveiling of a new variant of the T-90M and T-72B3M tanks during the Army-2023 defense exhibition in Moscow. This model showcased a “Cope Cage” or “Protective Canopy” – a metal mesh mounted on the turret’s roof, designed specifically to counter drone and loitering munitions attacks.
The innovative Protective Canopy for the T-90M tank turret is a response to the increasing drone threats on the Ukrainian battlefield. This canopy, essentially a screen, is supported by several cylindrical rods attached to the tank’s turret. The top of the canopy features a metal grid, ensuring visibility from the tank’s hatches when they are open. It also incorporates a unique wavy metal covering. While the exact purpose of these alternating ridges remains a subject of speculation, experts believe that this design might be particularly effective against drone-released mortars or FPV ‘suicide’ drones. This design concept is reminiscent of the v-shaped hulls found in mine-resistant vehicles.
As drone warfare becomes increasingly prevalent, such innovations underline the importance of adapting traditional military hardware to contemporary challenges. The deployment of these upgraded tanks in Ukraine will be closely watched by defense analysts worldwide.
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