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T-80 Main Battle Tank
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modified: Nov 10, 2012
T-80 is a main battle tank (not to be confused with the earlier T-80 Light Tank) developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s based on the T-64. The T-80 is the first tank in the world to have a gas turbine engine for main propulsion. The T-80 series is the last tank developed before the breakup of the Soviet Union.

The T-80 was developed by Nikolai Shomin's design team at Morozov design bureau. The first experimental GTD-1000T turbine engines were placed on modified T-64 tank chassis known as Obiekt 219 sp. 1 (spetsifikatsiya). Trials showed that the running gear would limit the speed potential of the powerful engine due to extreme vibration of the metal road wheels and track at high speeds. As a result, a new suspension was developed in 1971 leading to Obiekt 219 sp. 2. About sixty tanks were built between 1968 and 1971 to investigate different suspension and subcomponent combinations.

Rubber side skirts and an improved engine filtration system were introduced to prevent dust ingestion. Trials conducted in 1973 showed improved mobility but the engine was unreliable and fuel consumption was very high.

The Minister of Defense, Marshal Andrei Grechko refused the mass production of Obiekt 219 due to its high fuel consumption without any firepower or armor improvements. However, Dmitriy Ustinov, who favored gas-turbine engines, became the Minister of Defense after Grechko's death. Although there were still teething problems, Obiekt 219 was accepted for production on August 6, 1976 as the T-80.

Besides the gas turbine engine, the T-80 was essentially identical to the T-64A. Production was undertaken at LKZ from 1976 to 1978.

The T-80 was not fitted with a 12.7mm NSVT anti-aircraft machine gun. The IR searchlight was on the left side of the 125mm smoothbore gun. The gunner had the TPD-2-49 optical sight/rangefinder with one of the optical ports on the right side of the turret in front of the commander's position.

Some surviving T-80 tanks were later upgraded to T-80B standard. They were fitted with the Kobra missile system and additional armor for the hull bow. The IR search light was retained on the left side of the main gun.

Obiekt 219R was the first major redesign with a modified turret. The turret incorporated a new generation of Composite K ceramic armor which offered improved protection against APFSDS kinetic energy penetrations. The glacis plate also used a different type of laminate armor.

Obiekt 219R had an improved computerized fire-control system including the installation of a laser rangefinder. In addition, the 9M112 Kobra missile system was introduced.

The IA33 fire-control system includes the IG42 rangefinder sight with an electronic control panel, 1V517 tank ballistic computer, 1G43 fire selector panel, 2Eh46M weapons stabilizer and input sensors for windspeed, tank speed, cant and bearing, all of which were regularly updated.

Obiekt 219R was accepted for service in 1978 as the T-80B. It entered production at LKZ in the same year. Production at the Omsk plant began in 1979, replacing T-55A production that was taking place for export.

The command tank variant was designated T-80BK (Obiekt 630) and produced at the Omsk plant. It had a land navigation system and an additional command radio. It is not fitted with the Kobra radio guided missile system.

Forward deployment began in 1981 and over 3,500 were in Soviet service with tank units west of the Urals as of 1990 according to CFE treaty data.

Obiekt 219RV refers to the project to fit Kontakt ERA to the turret and hull of T-80B tanks. Production began at LKZ in 1985 as the T-80BV (vzryvnoi, explosive). The command tank version was designated T-80BVK. During rebuilding, older tanks were retrofitted with the Kontakt package.

T-80BM1 (initially Obiekt 219E) refers to a T-80B fitted with the Arena active protection system.

The T-80U is a variant of the T-80 with a new turret. Kharkov developed a new turret armor for the T-64B as Obiekt 476. The turret had the improved 1A45 fire-control system with the new 1G46 sight. The turret laminate armor used a semi-active filled-cell armor in the cavity consisting of two rows of polymer-filled cells backed by a steel plate and another layer of resin. Reverberation of shock waves in the semi-liquid filler in the cells degraded a shaped-charge penetrator.

The Obiekt 476 turret was mounted to a T-80B hull as Obiekt 219A Olkha. At the same time, Obiekt 219V was built to integrate the Refleks missile, 1A45 Irtysh fire-control system, and GTD-1000TF engine with supercharger. The 1A45 fire-control system had the 2Eh42 stabilizer and 1V528 ballistic computer. Finally, Obiekt 219AS merged features of Obiekt 219A and Obiekt 219V with Kontakt-5 reactive armor.

Some of the Obiekt 219A and 219V test-beds have received the first-generation Kontakt-1 package. They are sometimes referred to as T-80A even though they were never accepted for service.

A batch of twenty Obiekt 219AS tanks were completed in late 1983 for trials. Obiekt 219AS was accepted for service in 1985 as the T-80U (usovershenstvovanniy, improved). Mass production began in 1987 at Omsk.

The gunner has a roof-mounted Buran-PA thermal sight stabilized in two planes with a separate eyepiece. The commander has a monitor to which the thermal image from the gunner's sight is forwarded.

The tank commander has a roof-mounted, vertical plane stabilized PNK-4S day/night sight incorporating the TKN-4S night vision device. The sight has a day magnification of 5.1x and a night magnification of 7.5x. The commander also has five day periscopes/vision blocks.

The T-80U is armed with the 125mm 2A46M-1 smoothbore gun. It can carry seven more 125mm rounds than the T-80BV. It also has a 12.7mm NSVT pintle-mounted machine gun.

The original production T-80U was powered by the 1,100hp GTD-1000TF gas-turbine engine. This was replaced by the 1,250hp GTD-1250 gas-turbine engine on later production vehicles. A GTD-18A gas-turbine auxiliary power unit is mounted at the hull rear on the left side. This allows the vehicle to operate key subsystems without the main turbine engine running.

The T-80U has an air-cleaning device for automatic dust removal. It also features one-point refuelling which is claimed to reduce the time taken to refuel the vehicle.

The driver's seat is attached to the roof and pillars are located to the left of the seat. These features strengthen the hull and better protect the driver against mines.

The turret roof between the commander's and gunner's hatches has been provided with additional protection against top attack weapons. A collar of rubber skirts hang from the turret front to reduce the signature of the tank and deflect top attack bomblets.

The internal fuel tanks' capacity is 1,090 liters. A total of 680 additional liters is stowed in five external fuel tanks above the tracks. Moreover, three 200 liter drums can be fitted at the rear of the hull. These add up to a total capacity of 2,370 liters.

The T-80U is fitted with an NBC protection system, a fire detection and suppression system, 81mm smoke grenade launchers, the ability to generate a smoke screen by injecting fuel into the exhaust, a front-mounted dozer blade, an unditching beam at the rear, and the ability to mount mineclearing equipment.

An air conditioning system is an option offered on export version T-80U tanks.

T-80U tanks produced from 1990 were fitted with a more powerful gas turbine engine, and the Brod-1 deep fording kit.

T-80UK is the command variant of the T-80U manufactured at Omsk under the designation Obiekt 630A. The command variant had a second radio equipment consisting of UHF station, UHF receiver, HF station, UHF and HF antennae, and an 11m telescopic mast. Range is up to 40km for the R-163-50U radio and 350km for the R-163-50K radio. An AB-1-P28 1kW generator is used to power the communications equipment when the tank is stationary.

The command tank has a land navigation system including TNA 4-3 position indicator, plotting board, gyro course indicator, control panel, and aiming circle. In addition, it has the Agava thermal sight, TShU1-7 Shtora-1 electronic defense system, and the uprated GTD-1250 engine.

Due to the additional equipment, the T-80UK carries only 30 rounds of 125mm ammunition. A total of 750 rounds of 7.62mm and 500 rounds of 12.7mm ammunition is also carried.

T-80UE is a T-80UK variant with some of the command elements removed but retaining the TShU1-7 Shtora-1 system.

T-80UM is an improved variant with a 1,250hp gas turbine. It has the Brod-M deep fording kit and Agava M1 computerized fire-control system which incorporates a thermal imaging sight for the gunner. The commander has a monitor to which the gunner's target image is forwarded. The weapon system can use the 9M119M laser-guided missile.

Some T-80UM tanks have the 12.7mm NSVT machine gun moved from the commander's cupola to a pintle-mount on the roof to the left of the commander's hatch. This version is given the US Army designation T-80UM Model 1993.

T-80UM1 Bars (Panther) refers to a T-80U fitted with the Arena active protection system. The T-80UM1 is also fitted with a GTD-1250-G engine, air conditioning, roof mounted DV-EBS wind sensor, Buran-M stabilized gunner's day/night sight, RPZ-86M anti-radar coating, increased power stabilization system for the 125mm 2A46M-4 main gun, KAKTUS ERA, Tuman rapid action fire detection and suppression system, anti-fragmentation screens, 12.7mm NSVT remote-controlled machine gun, Ainet automatic fuze setting for 125mm HE-FRAG ammunition, and the 45M fire-control system which includes a day/thermal sighting system.

The 1A45 fire-control system includes a laser rangefinder, wind sensor, tank speed indicator, target speed indicator, roll angle sensor, ammunition and surrounding temperature sensors, and a ballistic computer. The commander is able to lay and fire the 125mm gun.

A GTA-18 gas turbine is also installed to allow the tank to operate all of its systems without running the main engine.

T-80UM2 originally referred to a T-80 chassis fitted with a new turret armed with a 125mm gun fed by a bustle-mounted automatic loader.

More recently, T-80UM2 is a variant of the T-80U developed in 1997 at Omsk, and fitted with the Drozd-2 active protection system.

The T-80 gas turbine engine had high procurement and operational costs. Multiple attempts made to build a diesel version of the T-80 were opposed by Dmitriy Ustinov. The death of Ustinov in December 1984 followed by that of the representative of Leningrad region in Kremlin G. V. Romanov in July 1985 removed the two most prominent supporters of the Leningrad turbine tank. The government approved a diesel version of the T-80U on September 2, 1985.

Obiekt 478B Bereza (birch tree) used a 1,000hp 6TD diesel engine in the T-80U. Five prototypes were completed for trials by the end of 1985. They were compared with diesel prototypes of Obiekt 219A. Obiekt 478B Bereza was shown to Mikhail Gorbachev and other senior officials at the Kharkov tank school. It was approved for production in 1986 as the T-80UD (Usovershenstvovanniy Dieselniy, improved diesel).

About 500 T-80UDs were produced by the Soviet Union. About 350 of these were still at the Kharkov plant when the Soviet Union collapsed.

T-80UDK was a command variant of the T-80UD. Only one was built.

The T-80UD was first deployed with the 4th Guards Kantemirovskaya Tank Division and the 2nd Guards Taman Motor Rifle Division. It was publicly seen during the 1990 Victory Day parade and the failed 1991 August Coup. It was also seen in October 1993 when six tanks of the 13th Guards Tank Regiment of the 4th Guards Kantemirovskaya Tank Division fired projectiles against the "White House" of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation.

Command Staff Vehicle
The Command Staff Vehicle was a proposed prototype based on the T-80U chassis to provide control and communication functions. It did not enter production or service.

The chassis is similar to the BREM-80U ARV. It features a superstructure at the front with space for a commander and driver plus two to four staff members.

Additional communications equipment, NBC protection system, and a front mounted dozer blade are also fitted.

It is armed with a 12.7mm roof mounted machine gun. Banks of 81mm electrically operated smoke grenade launchers are mounted on either side.

Armored Transporting Loading Vehicle
The Armored Transporting Loading Vehicle was designed to resupply tanks with 125mm ammunition projectile and charge. It did not enter production or service.

The vehicle has a similar chassis to that of the Command Staff Vehicle. It carries a total of 135 rounds. To resupply, the vehicle would draw up alongside tanks and the ammunition would be transferred via a chute.

It has a combat weight of 46 tonnes, a crew of two, and a top road speed of 70km/h. It is fitted with an NBC protection system, and a front mounted dozer blade.

Other variants
Other variants based on the T-80 include the 152mm 2S19 Msta self-propelled gun and BREM-80U armored recovery vehicle.

Soviet documents mention a T-80D, of which nothing definite is known.

References: JAA5, TaT, TMBT, TST
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