The Russians desperately needed to mount a response after the 1991 Gulf War, when the Americans stormed through the deserts of Kuwait and Iraq. The Russian economy’s defense sector was reeling, after the American military’s Abrams M1A1 Main Battle Tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles left the battlefield littered with literally hundreds of burnt-out and charred carcasses of once mighty Russian T-72 and T-80 tanks. As if the Russians weren’t already in bad enough shape after the collapse of the Soviet Union, now the international image of their largest defense export, the T-72 tank, and their newest model, the T-80, as no more than a flaming hulk of metal on the battlefield. Not good PR for the second largest weapons exporter in the world. Something had to be done. The Russian’s solution: rename the tanks. By combining elements of the T-72 and T-80 together, the Russians were able to create the T-90, and have successfully duped the market ever since.
Despite the fact that the T-90s design aspects are nothing new, the newest production models do include some major upgrades to the existing designs. A new gun being one of the biggest improvements, the newest T-90s coming off the lines can be fitted with Explosive Reactive Armor, laser rangefinders, an electromagnetic pulse generator to combat magnetic mines, and laser warning recievers. There is also a new type of radar jamming system to scramble the guidance of incoming radar-guided anti-tank missiles. Basically, you get early 70’s mechanics with 90’s electronics.
Don’t get me wrong though, Russia’s output capacity for producing these tanks can skyrocket if they wish it to. Never forget the inferior US Sherman tanks swarming the superior German Tigers. Technical sophistacation found with the likes of Western MBTs such as the German Leopard, French Leclerc, British Challenger 2, and the American Abrams M1, are expensive and time-consuming to produce and repair, while the Russians have never shown a sensitivity to losses in great numbers of mass-produced war machinery.