A Blog by Jonathan Low


Jun 1, 2022

How Ukraine Made Its T-84 Tank Technologically Superior To Russian Models

Thermal imaging sights, digitized fire control, optronic countermeasures, automated muzzle reference, laser threat detection, infrared jammers...

If it sounds technologically sophisticated, that's because it is, despite being based on the Russian T-80, otherwise known at the jack-in-the-box or Russian lollipop for its tendency to explode and send its turret flying when hit by hand-held anti-tank missiles. Just as with current developments in other aspects of cybersecurity, digital countermeasures are becoming as or more important than initial protections. JL

SofRep reports, image 19fortyfive:

Ukraine is manufacturing their own T-84 tanks to help repel Russian attacks. They decided to remodel the T-80 tank independently of Russia following their split from the Soviet Union. The T-84’s main difference from its T-80 counterpart is its new all-welded turret, explosive reactive armor, thermal imaging sight, newly digitized fire-control system, optronic countermeasure system, and an automatic muzzle reference system. It's countermeasures system (is) comprised of a laser threat detector, infrared jammers, a smokescreen laying system and NBC (nuke, bio, chem) protection.

Much has been said about the weapons the West has donated and will be donating to Ukraine. With many of them already received and much more on the way, Ukraine wasted no time in manufacturing their own T-84 tanks that can definitely help them repel Russian attacks, especially with the fighting now getting heated in Luhansk.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces have recently released a couple of photos showing the Ukrainian T-84 tanks being deployed in Donbas, a rarity to see these days. According to reports, Ukraine’s 14th Mechanized Brigade is using the tanks in the areas near Kherson. several were also reported being used in northern Ukraine, specifically in Kharkiv, where Russians still control the majority of the areas.

Nowadays, it’s rare to see the T-84 Oplot, with the Ukrainian Armed Forces having just 5 or 6 units, merely enough for one platoon. Other reports also state that only ten were made by the Malyshev Factory almost 20 years ago, which is why we’re also getting reports they’re active in Kharkiv as the factory is also located there.

Ukrainian T-84 tank, most likely somewhere in the east (Arslon Xudosi). Source: https://twitter.com/Arslon_Xudosi/status/1530639397183442946
Ukrainian T-84 tank, most likely somewhere in the east (Arslon Xudosi/Twitter)

These 10 T-84s were not all kept by the Ukrainians. Four of them were sold to the US in the past for an unknown reason, possibly for research and training purposes, as it is a derivative of the T-80 Soviet-era tanks. The US Army operates an OPFOR unit of the 11th Cavalry Regiment at the National Training Center in Ft Irwin California. This unit has mocked-up or actual Russian military equipment and trains US units in Russian battle tactics and doctrine in elaborately staged battle exercises.

A modernized version of the tank was also made, the Oplot-M. The export version of the Oplot-M tank, the BM Oplot-T, was also made, with one being delivered to the US in 2021.

Thailand and the Royal Thai Army also placed an order last September 2011 for 49 BM Oplot-T MBTs under Ukraine’s Ukrspetzexport. They received five tanks in November 2013, with the final batch being delivered sometime in 2018.

What’s So Special With the T-84 Oplot?

As was stated prior, the T-84 Oplot is largely based on the T-80 tank. But as all of you following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian tanks have a tendency to easily blow up as they store their ammunition directly below the turret, resulting in the Russian jack-in-the-box effect of their turrets being blown high into the air when the ammunition cooks off after being hit.  It’s been reported that these tanks carry 40 tank rounds in their turrets, with the T-80 having an autoloading system that stores 20 rounds. This is a phenomenon most people have poked fun at online, showing that they have not learned their lesson with this tank design.

They did decide to remodel the tank and develop it independently of Russia following their split from the Soviet Union. The development of the tank specifically branched out from the T-80UD program in the 1980s, so with a huge number of resources left in Kharkiv, they decided to come up with their own designs. These designs were spearheaded by the Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau (KMDB) and later produced by the aforementioned Malyshev Plant, which is a state-owned factory from Ukraine’s Ukroboronprom.

Armed with the Ukrainian KBA-3 124mm smoothbore cannon and a KT-12.7 anti-aircraft machine gun, this tank can fire conventional rounds as well as high explosive fragmentation (HE-FRAG), armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding-sabot (APFSDS) and high explosive anti-tank (HEAT). The Oplot also utilizes an automatic loader, 28 rounds of which are placed in the loader itself, with 46 rounds in total. This may prove to be disadvantageous for the tank in modern combat as it may also be susceptible to Javelin and NLAW attacks.

The T-84’s main difference from its older T-80 counterpart was that it featured a new all-welded turret, explosive reactive armor, thermal imaging sight, a newly digitized fire-control system, more optronic countermeasure system, and an automatic muzzle reference system, among others.

The survivability of the tank is said to be much more improved over the T-80, utilizing the latest generation NOZH explosive reactive armor package and Duplet anti-tandem-warhead explosive reactive armor, which gives it more protection against APFSDS and HEAT projectiles. More so, this armor was fitted to the hull and the turret, providing it more survivability against modern anti-tank weapons. Though, we have yet to see the reality of how it performs as no word from the field has been reported of a Ukrainian T-84 being destroyed by Russian anti-tank weapons.

Additionally, it is also equipped with the VARTA countermeasures systems, notably comprised of a laser threat detector (for warnings against laser-guided munitions), infrared jammers, and a smokescreen laying system. It also is equipped with the NBC protection system, a system that can protect its crew from nuclear weapon effects, radiation, radioactive dust, and other toxic agents that enemies may use against Ukraine. The Varta countermeasures system may also confuse the guidance systems of ATGMs by having jammers.

With Ukraine initially having 2,550 tanks prior to the war, with some 600 tanks (Russian estimates) taken out by the Russians, 187 of which were verified by Oryx, we’re sure that Ukraine will need all the tanks they can get a hold of. Although, we’re also sure that tank numbers aren’t really a problem for them at the moment, as it has been well-known that Ukrainian farmers have been collecting these abandoned Russian tanks as their troops run for the nearest Belarusian or Russian border. More so, it’s also been reported that Ukraine has captured some 252 Russian tanks, so it very well can be the case that they’re refurbishing these units for them to use.


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