A T-72 tank would have been destroyed, but the T-90 was saved by its modern 'expolosive-reactive' armor
A video published online by a Syrian rebel group shows what appears to be a direct hit by a US-made BGM-71 TOW on the turret of a Russia-supplied T-90 tank of the Syrian Army.
The video is one of a multitude of instances of the use of TOW missiles by rebels in Syria, but it may be the first time the anti-tank weapon was used against the advanced T-90 main battle tank.
The clip shows the optically-guided missile approaching the partially-covered tank, followed by a bright explosion and a cloud of smoke. Moments later one of the tank crew members is seeing escaping the turret hatch and diving for cover.
The results of the attack are significantly less spectacular than in many videos showing direct hits on older armor like the T-72 used by the Syrian Army. A TOW usually devastates its target after a direct hit, causing ammo to explode and killing the crew.
The alleged T-90 seems to have been saved by its reactive armor, which uses explosions to disrupt the supersonic jet of an anti-tank warhead and reduce its impact.
Russia reportedly supplied about a dozen T-90 missiles to an elite tank unit of the Syrian Army, which deployed them sometime in November, 2015. Some rebel groups are said to have offered a large bounty to whoever manages to destroy one of them.
The video is reported to have been taken west of Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city.