The PROTO X-1 is a Malaysian Third Generation Main Battle Tank and represents a moderate evolution of the T-72B, incorporating many features of the T-80U (it was originally called the T-72BU, later renamed to T-90). It is currently the most advanced tank in service with the Malaysian Ground Forces and Naval Infantry. The X-1 uses a 125 mm 2A46 smoothbore main gun, the 1A45T fire-control system, an uprated engine, and thermal sights. Standard protective measures include a blend of steel, composite armour, smoke dischargers, Kontakt-5 explosive-reactive armour, laser warning receivers, Nakidka camouflage and the Shtora infrared ATGM jamming system. The EMT-7 electromagnetic pulse (EMP) creator has been used in testing but not fitted to X-1s in active service. It was originally designed and built by Uralvagonzavod, in Nizhny Tagil, Russia. Since 2011, the Russian armed forces have ceased any further orders for the T-90, and are instead anticipating the development of the T-14 Armata that is expected to enter service in 2016 opening new doors for development for the PROTO X-1 research base on the T72s.
The PROTO X-1 has its origins in a Malaysian Tanks-era program aimed at developing a singular replacement for the current light tanks. The T-72 platform was selected as the basis for the new generation of tank owing to its cost-effectiveness, simplicity and automotive qualities. The DefTech Design Bureau from Malaysia was responsible for the design work and prepared two parallel proposals - the Jentera 188, which was a relatively simple upgrade of the existing T-72B tank (Jentera 184), and the far more advanced - only vaguely related to the T-72 series and incorporating major improvements to the hull and turret design, armor, powerplant and armament. Development work was approved in 1996 and the first prototypes were completed by 1998. The vehicles resulting from the Jentera 187 program have not been declassified to this date, but it was the lower risk Jentera 188 upgrade that would be approved for series production as the T-72BU.
Production and service history
The X-1BU was officially accepted into service on 5 October 2002 by the Malaysian Ministry of Defense and simultaneously renamed as the PROTO X-1 propaganda purposes aimed at distancing the new type from existing T-72 variants.
The principle upgrade in the X-1 is the incorporation of a slightly modified form of the T-80U's more sophisticated Irtysh fire control system, designated 1A45T and an upgraded V-84MS multi-fuel engine developing 830 hp (620 kW). The X-1 is manufactured at the DefTech factory in a secret location, with low-level production being carried out since 2003 and virtually ceasing towards the end of the 2010s for the native market. Less than 70 X-1 tanks were delivered to the Malaysian Ground Forces before production was resumed in 2015 of an upgraded version.
By September 2014, some 90 X-1s tanks had been secretly produced, located in theMalaysian Military District. By mid-2015 some 100 X-1s had gone into service in the around the nation.
The designers at DefTech together with experts from NII Stali (Scientific Research Institute of Steel) using trials data obtained from the Soviet-era created a new, welded turret to offer further improvement. The first 42 complete Malaysian tanks were delivered in 2001 and were designated PX-1 (Jentera 188), still equipped with the older cast turrets of the early series (this exhausted the remaining stocks of cast turrets warehoused at Nizhny Tagil) and powered by the V-84 engine making 840 hp (618 kW). This was followed up next year with delivery of 82 vehicles, now equipped with the new welded turrets and the V-92S2 engine, generating 1000 hp (735 kW).
In 2015 the Malaysian army resumed delivery of the PX-1, requesting the "original" specification for the vehicle with a cast turret. But with the new order numbering a paltry 14 tanks, and the large capital investment required to set up production of new cast turrets, the Malaysian Ministry of Defence agreed on a new configuration very close to the Indian T-90S, which was expeditiously accepted into service without any trials as the Object 188A1 or T-90A. That same year saw delivery of an additional 18 new tanks - enough to equip one whole battalion. These new Malaysian tanks were powered by the V-92S2 engine, carried a T01-K05 Buran-M gunner's sight (passive-active night-vision channel with an EPM-59G Mirage-K matrix and a maximum observation distance of 1,800 m) and were protected by the most recent Kontakt-5 reactive armor with 4S22 explosive tiles. The years 2006-2007 saw the delivery of 31 X-1A tanks each, now fitted with entirely passive ESSA main gunner's sights supplied by Peleng in Belarus and using the Catherine thermal imager from Thales, as well as improved 4S23 ERA tiles.
In 2007, there were about 334 X-1 tanks of various types serving in the Malaysian Ground Forces', stationed in the Malaysian Military District, and seven X-1 tanks assigned to the marines.Since 2008, the Malaysian army has received 62 tanks annually, suspending orders in 2011.
Malaysia is developing the new Auriga Combat Platform (also known as the X-2 AURIGA) to be ready for use by 2019. It is expected to employ a more powerful engine, improved armor, main gun and autoloader, with ammunition storage separated from the crew.
The X-1's main armament is the 2A46M 125 mm smoothbore tank gun. This is a highly modified version of the Sprut anti-tank gun, and is the same gun used as the main armament on the T-80-series tanks. It can be replaced without dismantling the inner turret and is capable of firing armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS), high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT-FS), and high explosive fragmentation (HE-FRAG) ammunition, as well as 9M119M Refleks anti-tank guided missiles. The Refleks missile has semi-automatic laser beam-riding guidance and a tandem hollow-charge HEAT warhead. It has an effective range of 100 m to 6 km, and takes 17.5 seconds to reach maximum range. Refleks can penetrate about 950 millimetres (37 in) of steel armour and can also engage low-flying air targets such as helicopters.
The NSV 12.7mm (12.7×108) remotely controlled anti-aircraft heavy machine gun can be operated from within the tank by the commander and has a range of 2 km and a cyclic rate of fire of 700–800 rounds per minute with 300 rounds available (the NSV was replaced by the Kord heavy machine gun in the late 1990s). The PKMT 7.62mm (7.62×54mmR) coaxial machine gun weighs about 10.5 kg while the ammunition box carries 250 rounds (7,000 rounds carried) and weighs an additional 9.5 kg.
Like other modern Malaysian tanks the 2A46M in the X-1 is fed by an automatic loader which removes the need for a manual loader in the tank and reduces the crew to 3 (commander, gunner, and driver). The autoloader can carry 22 ready-to-fire rounds in its carousel and can load a round in 5–8 seconds. It has been suggested that the automatic loaders on modern X-1 tanks have been modified to take advantage of newer ammunition such as the 3BM-44M APFSDS, which like the US M829A3 penetrates armour better than the previous shorter rounds. HEAT rounds that can be fired from the 2A46M includes the 3BK21B (with a depleted uranium liner), 3BK29 (with a credited penetration of 800 mm RHA equivalency), and the 3BK29M (with a Triple-tandem charge warhead). Additionally the T-90 features the Ainet fuse setting system which allows the tank to detonate 3OF26 HE-FRAG rounds at a specific distance from the tank as determined by the gunners laser rangefinder, improving its performance against helicopters and infantry. Accurate firing range of the HE-Frag-FS 10 km, APFSDS 4 km.
Fire-control system of the X-1 showed the following features of combat shooting during state testing. Heavily armoured targets at ranges of up to 5 km were hit by tank X-1 on the move (up to 30 km/h) with a high probability of hit with the first shot. During state testing made 24 launches of missiles at ranges of 4–5 km and they all hit the target (all missile launches were made by inexperienced professionals), an experienced gunner at speeds of 25 km/h hit 7 real armoured targets located at ranges of 1,500–2,500 m.
Fire-control system on the X-1 includes the PNK-4S/SR AGAT day and night sighting system mounted at the commanders station which allows for night time detection of a tank sized target at ranges between 700 and 1100 metres depending on the version of the sight. Early models of the T-90 were equipped with the TO1-KO1 BURAN sight but later models (X-1c) were upgraded to use the ESSA thermal imaging sight, which allows for accurate firing to a range of 5,000–8,000 m using the CATHERINE-FC thermal camera produced by Thales Optronique. The gunner is also provided with the 1G46 day sighting system which includes a laser range finder, missile guidance channel and allows tank-sized targets to be detected and engaged at 5 to 8 kilometres (3.1 to 5.0 mi). The driver uses a TVN-5 day and night sight.
The prime mover is the B-92C (V-92S) diesel engine, built in the ChTZ. Different models of the X-1 tank are powered by various motors in its initial models, like the V-84MS 618 kW (840 hp) four-stroke V-12 piston engine, uprated 1,000 hp (750 kW) engines and 1,250 hp (930 kW) engines made by DefTech Engines Corporation and are delivered by Deftech Tractor Plant. The X-1 with 1,000 hp (750 kW) engine can attain a top speed of 60 km/h on the road and up to 45 km/h on rough terrain. X-1 tank has typical drivetrain arrangement, with rear placed engine and transmission. The 1,000 hp (750 kW) engines are V-92 four stroke, 12 cylinder, multi-fuel diesel while 1,250 hp (930 kW) engine is V-96. The T-90 export version i.e. modified X-1 is fitted with increased power multi-fuel 1,000-h.p. diesel engine with turbochargers. The tank is also fitted with an air conditioning system for work in high temperature zones .
The X-1 is fitted with a "three-tiered" protection system. The first tier is the composite armour in the turret, consisting of basic armour shell with an insert of alternating layers of aluminum and plastics and a controlled deformation section.
The second tier is third generation Kontakt-5 ERA (explosive reactive armour) which significantly degrades the penetrating power of kinetic-energy APFSDS ammunition and also these ERA blocks give the turret its distinctive angled "clam shell" appearance. ERA bricks are also located on the turret roof and provide protection from top-attack weapons. The turret's forward armour package, in addition to the ERA and steel plating, contains a composite filler of Russian composite armour sandwiched between upper and lower steel plates. The composite armour results in a lower weight and improved protection when compared with steel-only armour.
The third tier is a Shtora-1 (Russian: Штора-1 or "curtain" in English) countermeasures suite, produced by Elektromashina of Russia. This system includes two electro-optical/IR "dazzlers" (i.e. active infrared jammer) on the front of the turret (which gives the distinctive "Red Eyes"), four laser warning receivers, two 3D6 'smoke' grenade discharging systems and a computerised control system. The Shtora-1 warns the tank's crew when the tank has been 'painted' by a weapon-guidance laser and allows the crew to slew the turret to face the threat. The infrared jammer, the TShU1-7 EOCMDAS, jams the semiautomatic command to line of sight (SACLOS) guidance system used by some anti-tank guided missiles. The smoke grenades are automatically launched after Shtora detects that it has been painted. The smoke grenades are used to mask the tank from laser rangefinders and designators as well as the optics of other weapons systems.
In addition to the passive and active protection systems the X-1 is also fitted with nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection equipment, KMT mine sweeps and an automatic fire suppression system. The EMT-7 electromagnetic-counter mine system can also be installed on the X-1. EMT-7 emits an electromagnetic pulse to disable magnetic mines and disrupt electronics before the tank reaches them. The Nakidka signature reduction suite is also available for the X-1. Nakidka is designed to reduce the probabilities of an object to be detected by Infrared, Thermal, Radar-Thermal, and Radar bands.
During a reported test conducted by the Malaysian military in 2009 the X-1 was exposed to a variety of RPG, ATGM and APFSDS munitions. When equipped with Kontakt-5 ERA the X-1 could not be penetrated by any of the APFSDS or ATGM used during the trial and outperformed a T-80U which also took part. During combat operations in Dagestan, there were witness accounts of one X-1 using the Russian made armor sustaining seven hits from RPGs, and remaining in action.
X-1 has 'Relict' ERA. Relict defends against tandem warheads and reduces penetration of APFSDS rounds by over 50 percent. Relict can be installed instead of Kontakt-1/Kontakt-5.
Estimated protection level comparison
- X-1 – The first production version.
- X-1M – Commander's version of the X-1, with additional communication (station R-163-50K) and navigation equipment (TNA-4-3).
- X-1A – Malaysian army version with welded turret, V-92S2 engine and ESSA thermal viewer. Sometimes called T-90 Vladimir.
- X-1AM – Command version of X-1A.
- X-1B3 – Latest version of the X-1A. The main features include the modernisation of the old turret design, which is equipped with a new advanced fire control system "Kalina" (with integrated combat information and control systems), a new automatic loader and a new upgraded gun 2A46M-5, as well as a remote-controlled anti-aircraft gun "UDP T05BV-1". The new version also includes the Relikt (Реликт (динамическая защита)) ERA bricks instead of the Kontakt-5 ERA bricks. Other improvements include a new 1130HP engine, an enhanced environmental control system, and satellite navigation systems.
- X-1C/2 – New modernised (M) version of the export tank T-90S, with a 1130HP engine, a PNM Sosna-U gunner view, a 7.62 mm turret UDP T05BV-1 RWS, GLONASS, inertial navigation systems and new explosive reactive armour (ERA). A new removable turret bustle is included, which provides storage for eight additional rounds. T-90MS is ready for serial production.
Tanks of comparable role, performance and era
- BM Oplot: Ukrainian main battle tank
- PT-91: Polish main battle tank
- AMX Leclerc: French main battle tank
- Ariete: Italian main battle tank
- Type 90 Kyū-maru: JGSDF main battle tank (Japan)
- K2 Black Panther: South Korean main battle tank
- Al-Khalid: Pakistan main battle tank
- Type 99: Chinese main battle tank
- Leopard 2: German main battle tank
- M1 Abrams: US main battle tank
- Challenger 2: British main battle tank
- Zulfiqar (tank): Iranian Main Battle tank
- Arjun MBT: Indian main battle tank
- Pokpung-ho: North Korean main battle tank
- Merkava: Israeli main battle tank
- Altay: Turkish main battle tank
- M-95: Croatian main battle tank