The T-80 main battle tank is a further development of the T-64, which had a number of significant drawbacks. It was also a more capable alternative to the T-72. The most significant features of the T-80 over the T-72 are its gas turbine engine and ability to fire the AT-8 Songster anti-tank guided missiles (T-80B and later variants) in the same manner as ordinary projectiles.The T-80 was adopted by the Soviet Army in 1976 however original version was not built in large numbers. With the introduction of the T-80 the Soviet Union operated 3 different main battle tanks, the T-64, T-72 and T-80. All of these tanks had similar design and broadly similar capabilities, though the T-80 was the most capable. However mayor components of these 3 tanks were not interchangeable. It was a tough task for the Soviet Army to support all of these 3 different tank types altogether. Currently Russia operates a total of 4 500 T-80 main battle tanks of all variants. Most of these tanks are in reserve. Some official sources reported that all T-80 series MBTs were to be removed from active service by 2015. Currently Russian Army operates T-90 MBTs and overhauled or upgraded versions of the T-72. The main reason is that these tanks with conventional engines are cheaper to operate and to maintain than the T-80s. The T-80 has a composite armor at the front arc. The tank is armed with a fully-stabilized 125 mm smoothbore gun, completed with an autoloader. Secondary armament consists of 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun and 12.7 mm anti-aircraft machine gun. The T-80 has a crew of three, including commander, gunner and driver. This tank is fitted with the GTD-1000T gas turbine engine, developing 1 000 horsepower. Basically it is a modified helicopter power plant. Advantages of such engine are its compact dimensions, high power output and ability to start when the temperature is as low as -40°C. As a result the T-80 was much faster than the T-72 and T-64, and had superior cross-country performance. However its gas turbine engine has a number of drawbacks. Most notable is a high fuel consumption, troublesome maintenance and high unit price. The T-80 is also fitted with auxiliary power unit, powering all systems, when the main engine is turned off. Suspension of the T-80 was improved comparing to that of the T-64.
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