Russian Army Receives New T-90M and T-72B3M Tanks: Wartime Production Surge Meets Frontline Requirements

The Russian Army has received a new batch of T-90M tanks and additional units of modernised T-72B3M tanks from the Uralvagonzavod defence manufacturer, following reports earlier in the year that hundreds of T-90Ms had already been delivered under surged production. The Russian Industry and Trade Ministry reported regarding the latest delivery: “Defence enterprises timely meet the needs of our Armed Forces for advanced and reliable hardware. This work is controlled by the Russian Government’s Coordination Council. Enterprises have gained a good pace. In particular, Uralvagonzavod has boosted output more than threefold over the past year and has now delivered the next batch of T-90M Proryv and upgraded T-72B3M tanks to Russian troops. This armour is especially in demand in fulfilling objectives in the zone of the special military operation.” Uralvagonzavod CEO Alexander Potapov elaborated that his firm was able to rapidly provide new hardware for the armed forces, and that the quality of the tanks being supplied had been “proven by invariably good assessments of Uralvagonzavod’s armour given by the military participating in the special military operation.” The ‘special military operation’ is an official Russian term for referring to its operations in Ukraine from February 2022.

Of five major tank factories operational in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, Uralvagonzavod is the only one still producing tanks in Russia and is by far the largest tank plant in the world. Although before 2022 orders for new tanks from the factory were negligible, with only 10 new tanks acquired in the 2010s, Uralvagonzavod retained a massive output far surpassing the collective outputs of all tank plants in the Western world, Japan and South Korea combined due to export demand for the T-90 primarily from Algeria and India. In 2022 domestic demand for newly built T-90M tanks increased rapidly due to both losses of older tank classes in Ukraine, and to the increased tensions with an expanding NATO which has placed further pressure on Russia’s defences. The T-90M has been widely praised as the most capable tank in the world by Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin and former president Dmitry Medvedev, and has significantly superior capabilities to all other tank classes in Russian service, with its main gun, munitions classes, armour protection and sensors all being outstanding. It is expected that the Russian Army will receive over 1000 T-90M tanks in 2023, which although small compared to the scale of peacetime orders in the Soviet era, is still a tremendous increase over the acquisition rates seen from 1992-2022. These acquisitions are expected to be supplemented by deployments of upgraded variants of older tank models, including enhanced T-72s such as the T-72B3M as well as improved models of the older T-62 which have been brought out of storage.