The T-110 is a late-fifth-generation Main Battle Tank, designed and produced in the USSR, which incorporates a number of technologies and features typically considered sixth-generation. It is the primary such type of armored fighting vehicle fielded by the modern Soviet Army and Naval Infantry with over 300,000 units either in active service or reserve, excluding the many derivatives and other platforms which use its chassis as a basis - making it far-and-away the most-produced MBT in Human History.
Starting in 2015, with the merger of the People's Republic of China into the Soviet Union in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis, the USSR began period of rapid and extensive expansion throughout the rest of Asia. This culiminated in the Indian War of 2037, when the Soviet Union's attempts to annex India resulted in the use of military force and provoked an armed response from NATO. The conflict between East and West raged on the Indian subcontinent for the next five years. However, the massively bloated USSR had had little time to expand or modernize the vast military it inherited from its new constituent states. The end result was a NATO expeditionary force of about 500,000 men fighting a force of millions Soviets and Indian Communists equipped with a large mass of rather outdated equipment. Though the West's economic base and resolve eventually gave way, due in large parts to the rash of Vietnam-esque gorilla fighting and protracted campaigns of attrition, the USSR came out of the conflict militarily exhausted by the superiority of NATO's modern force.
However, the lessons of the conflict proved an important factor. Technology was not the ultimate abritrator of victory in a large-scale conventional war. The true victor, it seemed, would be the one who could put the largest quantity of pure firepower downrange and, more importantly, sustain it. Thus, the T-110 was designed with these experiences in mind to be the standard next-generation Main Battle Tank of the Soviet Military: a fast, highly-mobile and network-capable platform able to project the maximum of firepower across the broadest area and against the widest possible variety of targets. The first of the vehicles would see combat in the last year of the war, where they gave NATO forces a considerable scare. The capabilities of the current, much-updated versions of the vehicles are, however, considerably greater, allowing the design to stay competitive, even if it is beginning to show its age.
The T-110 is a product of the Kartsev-Venediktov Design Bureau or OKB-520 (creators of the famous T-34, T-64 & T-80 tanks) - located amidst the massive Stalin Ural Tank Factory No. 183 or 'Uralvagonzavod (UVZ) Plant' in Nihzy Tagil, Russia - with input from the Leningrad Kirov Machine-building Plant (LKZ).
Small-scale pre-serial roduction began in 2038 with the two above-mentioned plants - Uralvagonzavod and LKZ - each producing a small batch. These two initial runs had some differing features and the two forms were evaluated by State trials separately. Various features were then combined and over 2,000 design alterations made to create the first definitive production version, the T-110A.
The Soviet Army needed to rapidly replace its existing stockpiles of various aging tanks which, in addition to rapidly becoming outdated, used a variety of different systems - being that they had originated in a number of formerly-independent countries - that caused major logistical problems. As such, series production of the T-110A began (ironically) on September 11th of 2039 and was quickly expanded to include the Omsktransmash Plant in the South-central Russian RSFSR and the Malyshev Plant in Kharkiv, Ukranian SSR. Production was opened up at the Inner Mongolia Machine Factory in northern China a few years later.
In 2048, to address various problems and shortcomings with the original design and keep the tank competitive, a definitively new model was introduced: the T-110U (with 'U' standing for «Улучшение» ['Uluchsheniye'], or "Improvement"). This was not simply a modification or update to the existing T-110 series, but a re-design. Subsequent improvements to the T-110 and T-110U have been incorporated with '-M' («модернизированный» ['modernizirovannyy'] / "Modernized") packages, leading to two definitive versions currently in operational use: the T-110BM2 [the modernized version of the original production model] and the upgraded T-110UM. Only production of the T-110UM is on-going, with the modernized originals being replaced in active service on a one-for-one basis and moved to storage.
The T-110UM, which equips all front-line and many second-string units, is the primary subject of this article.
Country of Origin: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
Date of Production: 2039-Present
Number Produced: ~350,000 excluding derivatives
Crew: 4 (Commander, Gunner, Driver, Electronics Technician)
Powerplant: GTD-S-1000 Multi-fuel Turbine x 2 (1,000 hp each)
Transmission: Computer-regulated Turbo-electric Drive (no mechanical connection between engines and drive train)
-Turret Forward: 1151cm
-Without barrel or external fuel tanks [hull only]: 850cm
Ground Clearance: 42cm
Weight: 58.5 tonnes metric
Maximum Speed [on road]: 145 km/h (90 mph)
Maximum Speed [cross-country]: 105 km/h (65 mph)
Fuel Capacity: 600 litres internal / 200 litres external / up to 500 additional litres in jettisonable rear fuel tanks
Primary Armament: 2A116 152.4mm / L75 Rifled Tank Gun
-Coaxial GaS-23MU-T revolver cannon (23mm)
-Over-barrel KPSV-2 Heavy Machinegun mounted atop main gun in semi-fixed position, fired by gunner as an additional coaxial weapon (14.5)
-KPS-5-14.5 five-barrel Gatling gun / rotary machine gun on rear right of turret in anti-aircraft mount (14.5mm), can be used against ground targets
-forward PKNV-T machine gun in remote-control armored rotating cupola atop front right hull, beside driver's hatch (12.7mm)
-Commander's hatch PKNV Machine Gun cradle with remote interface to be fired with the hatch closed; cannot be fired from the commander's seat, located on forward left of turret (12.7mm)
-Countermeasure Canister Launchers (can be used to fire anti-personnel grenades or flechette 'beehive' packets)
-Crew Smallarms (AN-131UM x 4, RPG-95 x 1)
The T-110 was designed as a multipurpose battle platform able to effectively engage the largest possible number and variety of hostile targets in the greatest spectrum of potential situations. As such, it is not optimized for killing opposing Armored Fighting Vehicles in the same manner as its NATO counterpart. Rather, it bristles with a variety of weapons and its main gun, being rifled, can be used to fire the 152.4mm artillery shells of the "Kasatik" gun-howitzer system if need be. While it lacks the raw anti-armor firepower of the M5 Marshall or the German Löwe 2 [Lion 2], both of which use 105mm magnetic rail accelerators, the T-110 has a number of advantages. It is faster, more maneuverable, cheaper, rugged and more easily maintained and repaired - it is also, in many ways, more survivable, with an exhaustive multi-layered system of active and passive defensive countermeasures collectively called 'Ekran-3' [«Экран-3»], or "Screen". Its numerous secondary weapons and the multifaceted capabilities of its countermeasure dischargers give it considerable effective firepower in close-quarters combat and effective defense against the smaller, shorter-ranged AT weapons of enemy infantry or LAVs [Light Armored Vehicles].
The T-110 is essentially built around two systems: its massive, complex 152mm main gun system and its highly maneuverable, fuel-effecient turbo-electric drive-train.
The first layer of the T-110's multifaceted protection scheme is, quite obviously, the armor itself. The exact composition of this is purely a speculative factor in the West and is a heavily-protected State Secret within the USSR, but the official Soviet Armed Forces statement is that the overall package is "3 times more effective" than pure Rolled Homogenous Armor, i.e. high-grade protective steel. The vehicle itself is constructed largely out of titanium, fibre-glass and high-strength synthetic plastics to reduce weight and reduce rigidity. Essentially the entire chassis is 'double-hulled', with the exterior consisting of removable panels allowing the insertion of complex composite armor bricks that form the actual 'meat' of its protection. The composition of these bricks varies depending on what part of the vehicle they are meant for, being optimized to defeat different sorts of threats - and, in theory, different types can be used as the situation warrants, although modifications to the layout are rarely ever practiced due to logistical reasons. With more than 300,000 of the vehicles in operational use, providing additional sets of armor modules would be a supply nightmare. Instead, an 'all-around' solution is generally preferred. Although, again, different areas use bricks more optimized against the threats they are most likely to encounter.
Additional spaced armor composite slabs are used to defend the most important areas: specifically the turret, hull front and underside. This gives the turret its distinctive 'clam-shell' cross-section and the two frontal plates, set at opposing sloped angles along the longitudinal axis, resemble the keel of a ship. This also creates a 'V-shaped' underside for the belly of the tank. Similar, although thinner, external plates are added over the tracks to provide a 'skirt' of additional protection for the relatively thin lower side armor behind the wheels. These cover the flanks from the tops of the track guards down almost to the tracks. The cowls over the fronts of the tracks are of the same thickness and composition as the skirts, allowing them to be used as a battering ram for crashing through reinforced concrete walls without suffering any damage to the drive systems.