Uralvagonzavod Corporation (UVZ) announced the production of upgraded T-80BVM main battle tanks with gas turbine engines in 2018, the Zvezda broadcaster said. Russia ceased serial production of T-80 tanks in the second half of the 1990s. However, several thousand tanks of the T-80 family are still operational or kept at armor dumps. They are mostly T-80B and T-80BV tanks. They have enough resource but combat characteristics are outdated.
Russian army T-80BVM main battle tank
Russian designers developed in the past years modernization programs for the tanks during overhaul. The programs were designed by Spetsmash Company in St. Petersburg and Transport Machine-building Design Bureau in Omsk.
It will take at least 45 minutes for a diesel-driven tank to start moving in temperatures of minus 30 degrees Centigrade. Tanks with gas turbines need one minute. T-80 is irreplaceable in northern latitudes.
Only the Soviet Union/Russia and the United States produced tanks with gas turbines. In contrast to Russian counterparts, US engineers failed to provide a proper air purification system for M1 Abrams.
The presence of a major part of tank components (turret, hull, running gear, arms systems and mechanisms) decreases the cost of overhauled and upgraded tank 45 percent against a new tank with similar combat efficiency.
Head of the Main Armor Department of the Russian Defense Ministry Lieutenant-General Alexander Shevchenko said trials of upgraded T-80BVM were being prepared. T-80BV upgraded to T-80BVM level has improved main characteristics: firepower, protection, mobility, command and control, as well as operational characteristics.
The firepower increased due to the new 2A46M gun, new guided Reflex 9K119 complex, fire control 45M complex which includes upgraded digital serial 1G46-2 sight and multichannel Sosna-U sight (with thermal imaging channel), stabilizer 2E42M with digital controls, a set of fire sensors and information-control 1V558M system which ensures digital control of the mentioned arms components.
The upgrade increased search and reconnaissance capabilities of the pointer and commander specifically at night and in poor visibility. Effective fire accuracy and distance were increased. All types of munitions can be fired, including the latest ones.
Tank protection was reinforced by inbuilt reactive new-generation Relikt armor which is uniform with the one installed on upgraded T-72B3 tanks and includes reactive armor elements, bulk side and bar anti-cumulative shields on the hull and turret. The protection of the tank front from all types of shells has been increased 40-55 percent and the protection of the sides and back was also upgraded.
Russian army T-80BVM main battle tank
Mobility grew due to an increase of specific power to 27-30 HP/t, better fuel consumption which decreased 10 percent on the run and over two-fold stationary. It is due to the modernized gas turbine GTD-1250 engine, which can momentary up the power from 1250 to 1400 HP, and a new digital engine control based on onboard information-control system and additional sensors.
The control of the tank was upgraded by digital new-generation communication means integrated into the hard and soft of the computer.
It increases the quality of tank engagement and automatically provides the command with information from the tank to determine the combat mission. The range, quality, covertness and sustainable digital communications were improved.
Better operational characteristics of the upgraded tank were ensured by automatic control which simplified the actions of the pointer and commander in combat and during maintenance. The number of controls and indicators was reduced two-fold. Technical maintenance has been simplified. The crew can diagnose the equipment and eliminate defects. Air intake ensures engine operations in dusty conditions.
All T-80 modifications with a gas turbine engine faced problems with the antiaircraft machine gun. There were numerous cases with T-80B/BV when the stick-free commander turret rotated by itself in motion and ramming because of big weight and 1.5 meter lever of the machine gun. It injured the hands of the commander when he tried to keep the turret stable. It would be appropriate to install on upgraded T-80 a commander turret with remotely controlled machine gun like on T-90.
To simplify the operation of the turret on T-80BVM two caterpillar tracks are fixed on levers to the opposite side of the large-caliber machinegun. They have to balance the rotating turret and thus simplify the work of the commander and help him avoid injuries.
Anyway, the upgrade of T-80BV and extension of its life cycle is a correct decision as T-80 potential has not been exhausted, the Zvezda broadcaster said.