Ukraine hands over a captured Russian T-90A tank to United States

According to pictures released on the Twitter account of "Walter Report" on April 13, 2023, Ukraine delivered a Russian T-90A Main Battle Tank (MBT) to the United States. This tank was captured and used by Ukrainian defenders before being transferred to the United States.
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Russian T-90A tank in Louisiana, captured and used by Ukrainian Defenders prior to being transferred to the US (Picture source Twitter account Walter Report)

According to information published by the British Intelligence Services, re-purposed captured Russian equipment and combat vehicles now makes up a large proportion of Ukraine's military hardware. Ukraine has likely captured at least 440 Russian main battle tanks, and around 650 other combat vehicles since the invasion.

To go back in history, following the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, the United States and several NATO countries rushed to recover Russian-made equipment and armored vehicles used by East Germany. During the Gulf War, the Americans also collected a large quantity of Russian-made military equipment.

Receiving captured Russian vehicles from Ukraine could be interesting for the United States for a variety of reasons. One reason is that it allows the U.S. military and intelligence agencies to conduct a technical analysis of the vehicle, gaining valuable information on its design, capabilities, and weaknesses. This information can be used to develop countermeasures and tactics to neutralize or exploit these vehicles in a potential conflict.

Another reason is that studying captured vehicles can provide insights into the tactics and strategies employed by Russian forces or their proxies, which can improve the training and preparedness of U.S. and NATO forces. Additionally, having physical access to a captured vehicle can enable U.S. engineers to reverse-engineer its components and systems, potentially leading to the development of new technologies, upgrades for existing platforms, or countermeasures to neutralize enemy capabilities.

According to information published on the internet and social media, the T-90A was seen on a vehicle transporter produced by the American company Globe Trailers. It was photographed in Roanoke, a town located about a hundred kilometers from Fort Polk, where the US Army's Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) is situated. The JRTC's mission is to ensure the operational readiness of light infantry units in conditions that closely resemble reality.

Based on the markings on the tank, the T-90A belonged to the Russian army's 27th Motorized Rifle Brigade when it was captured near Kharkiv in September 2022.

Ukraine hands over a captured Russian T 90A tank to United States 925 002
Russian Army T-90A MBT Main Battle Tank. (Picture source Vitaly Kuzmin)

The Russian T-90A is a main battle tank (MBT) developed and produced by the Russian company Uralvagonzavod. It is an upgraded version of the T-90 tank, which was itself a modernized variant of the Soviet-era T-72 tank. The T-90A entered service with the Russian Armed Forces in the late 1990s and has since been exported to various countries around the world.

The T-90A features several improvements over its predecessors, including enhanced armor protection, a more powerful 125mm 2A46M-5 main gun, and an upgraded fire control system. It is also equipped with a 1,000-horsepower V-92S2 diesel engine, providing the tank with a top speed of around 60 km/h (37 mph) and a range of approximately 550 km (342 miles).

In terms of protection, the T-90A uses a combination of composite armor, explosive reactive armor (ERA), and a "Shtora" electro-optical active protection system designed to disrupt incoming guided anti-tank missiles. The tank also has a low silhouette and advanced camouflage capabilities, making it more difficult for enemy forces to detect and target.

The T-90A is also equipped with Shtora-1 an electro-optical active protection system designed to enhance the survivability of the tank against guided anti-tank missiles. Developed in Russia, the system uses a combination of sensors and countermeasures to detect, track, and disrupt incoming threats.

The T-90A main battle tank also features a robust armor system designed to protect the crew and vehicle from various types of threats, including kinetic energy penetrators, shaped charges, and high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds. The primary armor of the T-90A is made up of a composite material that includes layers of steel, ceramics, and other materials. This type of armor is designed to provide superior protection against a wide range of threats, including kinetic energy penetrators and shaped charges, compared to conventional steel armor.

In addition to its composite armor, the T-90A is equipped with Kontakt-5 ERA, which is a type of add-on armor that consists of explosive-filled panels. When struck by a projectile or shaped charge, the explosive in the panel detonates, counteracting the incoming threat and minimizing the penetration of the main armor. This system is particularly effective against HEAT rounds and shaped charges.

The T-90A's armor technology could be of interest to US intelligence for a variety of reasons. One reason is to help US intelligence and military officials gain insights into the protection capabilities of Russian main battle tanks by studying the T-90A's armor composition and effectiveness. This knowledge is crucial in assessing the potential threat posed by these tanks and developing appropriate countermeasures.

By examining and reverse-engineering the T-90A's armor, US researchers can also identify innovative materials and design techniques that may be incorporated into the development of future US armored vehicles. This could lead to improvements in the protection and survivability of American tanks and other armored platforms.