T-80U Soviet Main Battle Tank

T-80U Soviet Main Battle TankThe T-80 main battle tank has been in production since the late 1970s. KBTM of Omsk, Russian Federation, manufactures the T-80U for general use in infantry and tank units and the T-80UK command tank and XKBM, Kharkov, Ukraine, manufactures the T-80UD and the T-84, the Ukrainian variant of the T-80UD.

The T-80 was the first Soviet operational tank to be powered by a gas-turbines, with a GTD-1000 gas-turbine engine developing 1100 hp. The road wheel spacing is not identical, with distinct gaps between the three pairs of road wheels. To extend the operational range of the T-80, additional fuel tanks can be mounted at the hull rear, which can be quickly jettisoned if required. A large circular container mounted on the turret rear carries two snorkels for deep fording operations. The larger one provides an air intake for the gas-turbine, with the other being fitted onto the radiator grill.

The T-80U carries the 9M119 Refleks (Nato designation AT-11 Sniper) anti-tank guided missile system which is fired from the main gun. The range of the missile is 100m to 4,000m. The system is intended to engage tanks fitted with ERA (explosive reactive armour) as well as low-flying air targets such as helicopters, at a range of up to 5km. The missile system fires either the 9M119 or 9M119M missiles, which have semi-automatic laser beamriding guidance.

The tank is fitted with a 125mm 2A46M-1 automatic smoothbore gun with thermal sleeve, which can fire between 6 and 8 rounds/minute. Loading is hydro-mechanical with a 28 round carousel container. 45 rounds are carried. The gun fires separate loading projectiles which have semi-combustible cartridge case and sabot. Ammunition can be AP (armour piercing), APDS (armour piercing giscarding sabot), HEAT (high-explosive anti-tank) and HE-FRAG (high-explosive fragmentation).

The latest version of the T-80U is the T-80UM2, also called Black Eagle or Chiorny Oriol, which is designed to engage targets while stationary or on the move. The demonstration of the prototype tank was held in Omsk in September 1997. The tank has a new all-welded cast steel turret with ERA on the hull front and turret, an automatic loading system and relocation of the ammunition to the turret bustle for improved survivability.

Other improvements include a computerised fire control system, thermal imaging sights for commander and gunner, and the Arena active countermeasures system. The T-80 UM2 is planned for exports but production has not yet started.