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Syrian forces started to use Russian T-90A MBT in addition to the T-72 in duty TASS 32203164

Military Defense Industry Technology - Russia, Syria
Syrian forces started to use Russian T-90A MBT in addition to the T-72 in duty
Syrian governmental forces have started to use Russian T-90A (dubbed as 'Vladimir') main battle tanks (MBT) in the recent months. The conflict in the Near Eastern country has become the baptism of fire for world-known Vladimir MBTs, so Russian and foreign military experts do not pay much attention to the participation of other tanks in the Syrian war. Nevertheless, T-72B tanks and their modifications are intensively contributing to the common victory over terror.
Syrian-forces-started-to-use-Russian-T-90A-MBT-in-addition-to-the-T-72-in-duty-640-001Russian T-90A "Vladimir" main battle tank

The supplies of T-72B and T-72B1 MBTs to Syria started in October 2015. Several such tanks were spotted in a maritime port located in the southern part of Russia. Then the vehicles were delivered to Syria. The tanks were deployed at the frontline and attached to the Syrian government units, which were intensively fighting against the terrorists.

The Syrian crews did not have problems in mastering the MBTs, as T-72Bs resembled T-72AV tanks which had been earlier supplied to Syrian Armed Forces. Nevertheless, the T-72B`s firepower is significantly increased, compared to T-72AV modification. T-72B features advanced armour protection and ability to fire 9M119 Reflex (NATO reporting name: AT-11 Sniper) guided missiles at distances up to 4,000 m. There is no official confirmation of the usage of Reflex missiles in fighting against terrorists.

Syrian Armed Forces were able to effectively exploit the advanced armour protection of T-72B tanks. They were used on the offensive end, covering the earlier T-72 modifications (for instance, T-72A tanks) and ageing T-55 and T-62 tanks. Despite the continuous presence of T-72Bs at the Syrian frontline, no tank has been destroyed by enemy`s fire.

During the war, T-72B proved its worthiness as a reliable and powerful tank, being able to resist several hits by rocket-propelled grenades/anti-tank guided missiles and to save the crew members` lives. The combat effectiveness of 125mm 2A46M tank gun has been confirmed. Neverthless, several disadvantages of T-72B were revealed during the conflict.

The tank`s compact internal layout is one of its most significant disadvantages as it significantly increases the probability of simultaneous damage to both commander and gunner, when anti-tank projectile hits the T-72B`s turret. The probability of stowage explosion (as a result of hit) still remains high. The tank`s automatic gun loader contains only 22 rounds. The additional rounds are stored in the tank`s hull and turret. Such layout significantly increases the chance of ammunition allowance`s explosion in the case of turret armour piercing by anti-tank munitions equipped with shaped-charge warheads.

The T-72B`s frontal arc is heavily armoured. Even modern anti-tank weapons (such as TOW-2A anti-tank systems with BGM-71E guided missiles) can hardly penetrate the upper part of the tank`s frontal armour plate (even not equipped with Kontakt-1 explosive reactive armour). The hull is sufficiently protected from land anti-tank mines.
Syrian-forces-started-to-use-Russian-T-90A-MBT-in-addition-to-the-T-72-in-duty-640-002 Russian T-72 main battle tank

Nevertheless, the T-72`s hull protection has several weak points. The lower part of frontal armour plate is made of steel with an 80mm thickness. The T-72B`s basic side (80mm of steel armour + 10mm of rubber-fabric skirt without Kontakt-1 ERA bricks) and tail armour is relatively thin and cannot resist to modern anti-tank weapons. At the same time, the installation of Kontakt-1 ERA can increase the side protection of T-72B.

T-72B lacks of remotely-controlled turret armed with 12.7mm NSVT/6P49 Kord machinegun, which is required for the elimination of AT-soldiers during urban combat, The installation of remote gear with PZU-5 optical sight allows to solve the aforementioned problem.

In January 2016, first T-72BM (also designated in Russian service as T-72B obr. 1989) tanks were spotted in Syria. This modification of T-72B is equipped with advanced Kontakt-5 ERA like T-90A MBTs.

< align="justify">In common, T-72B has proved its combat worthiness during the Syrian conflict. Being easy-to-use, reliable and maintainable, the tank has saved its crew members` lives for many times. No wonder, that T-72 is one of the most popular modern MBTs. Due to high cost-effectiveness ratio, T-72 still remains the workhorse of many armed forces.
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