Since 2018, the Russian industry has been carrying out serial modernization of T-80B tanks from parts and from storage according to the modern T-80BVM project. Dozens of such armored vehicles have already returned to service in a new capacity, and more batches are expected to be received. It is noteworthy that the updated equipment was the first to receive the units and subdivisions serving in the most difficult conditions. This is directly related to the special capabilities of the upgraded tanks.
Tank goes to the troops
In August 2017, the Ministry of Defense and NPK Uralvagonzavod signed a contract for the modernization of the T-80B MBT under the new BVM project. 62 armored vehicles were sent for the update; deliveries were scheduled for 2018 and 2019. – 31 units each. In the future, new orders were planned.
According to the Ministry of Defense, the first modernized T-80BVMs entered the 60th separate guards tank battalion of the 200th separate motorized rifle brigade of the coastal forces of the Northern Fleet (Pechenga village, Murmansk region). The first successes in rearmament were demonstrated already on May 9, 2018, when several new armored vehicles took part in the parade in Murmansk.
In November 2019, the Ministry of Defense announced the delivery of 26 modernized MBTs, thanks to which the rearmament of the tank battalion of the 200th Omsb Brigade was completed. Based on the results of 2018-19. the brigade received 40 T-80BVM tanks. For some time she became the largest operator of such equipment.
Tanks of the 200th separate motorized rifle brigade
In June last year, the media reported on the supply of T-80BVMs to another formation of the armed forces. A set of modernized tanks entered the tank battalion of the 38th separate guards motorized rifle brigade (the village of Yekaterinoslavka, Amur Region) of the ground forces of the Eastern Military District.
Across the Arctic
Recently, new information appeared in the domestic media about the modernization and deployment of a new type of MBT. With reference to sources in the Ministry of Defense, it is argued that by the end of the year, T-80BVM tanks will equip all the remaining land formations serving in the Arctic.
According to known data, modern tanks have not yet received only two “Arctic” formations. These are the 61st Separate Marine Brigade of the Northern Fleet (Murmansk Region) and the 40th Separate Marine Brigade of the Pacific Fleet (Kamchatka).
It is likely that these brigades will soon receive several dozen T-80BVM MBTs, which will have a positive effect on their combat effectiveness. In addition, modernized tanks in two brigades will complete the formation of a sufficiently large and powerful armored force in the strategic northern direction. It can be assumed that, having received a tank battalion, the 200th motorized rifle brigade, as well as the 61st and 40th brigade, in total will have about 100-120 modern T-80BVM.
Start up – and let’s go! Tank 200th Omsbr
Tanks are transferred to units of the ground forces and marines. Thus, they will be able to operate on land or participate in amphibious assault forces. At the disposal of the Northern and Pacific fleets there are large landing ships with the ability to transport tanks – this seriously increases the mobility of tank battalions and expands their combat capabilities.
Tank for difficult conditions
It should be noted that earlier, the listed formations were armed with medium and main tanks of a number of types, but the current program provides for a complete transition to the T-80BVM. The reasons for this are quite simple. The Arctic and the Far East are characterized by low temperatures and other negative climatic phenomena. In such conditions, tanks of the T-80 family show themselves better than other domestic MBTs.
The main “arctic” advantages of the T-80BVM are associated with the used power plant. The engine compartment of the tank houses a gas turbine engine GTD-1250 with a capacity of 1250 hp. Such an engine provides high power density and mobility. In addition, in comparison with the piston, it is easier to operate at low temperatures.
It is known that starting a diesel engine at negative air temperatures (and corresponding cooling of the structure) is a very difficult and time-consuming process. Pre-heating is required, and then a long warm-up is required during operation, air preparation at the inlet, etc. All these procedures, depending on the temperatures and condition of the engine, can take half an hour or more.
T-80BVM on Red Square, June 24, 2020
GTE in this respect is much simpler and more convenient. It takes a few minutes to launch with an exit to the operating mode, after which the tank is ready to move – and fight. However, the GTE is disadvantageously distinguished by its increased fuel consumption in a number of modes, however, the ease of operation in Arctic conditions compensates for this disadvantage. Dust sensitivity is an issue, but in the proposed deployment regions this factor is almost irrelevant.
No worse than others
In terms of performance in cold regions, the T-80BVM outperforms other domestic tanks. In addition, it is not inferior to other MBTs in terms of combat qualities due to weapons, control systems, etc. The BVM project provides for a number of measures aimed at increasing combat effectiveness in all possible conditions.
In the course of modernization, the survivability of the tank increases due to the installation of reactive armor “Relic” and lattice screens. These means overlap the frontal and side projection and complement the tank’s own protection. It is possible to install active protection “Arena”.
The basis of the complex of weapons is a 125-mm smooth-bore gun-launcher 2A46M-4 with a loading mechanism. The latter is being finalized for the use of modern armor-piercing shells of increased length. An all-weather multi-channel gunner’s sight “Sosna-U” is introduced into the FCS. The coaxial and anti-aircraft machine gun, as well as the 9K119 Reflex guided weapon system, remain. The communication complex is being finalized using the VHF radio station R-168-25U-2 “Aqueduct”.
Tailored to the needs
Currently, in the interests of the Russian army, several MBT upgrade programs are being implemented. T-72B3, T-90M and T-80BVM tanks are produced by serial repairs and modernization. All these machines have certain similarities and are partially unified, but significant differences remain.
The upgraded T-80BVMs are sent to regions with characteristic climatic conditions, where they can fully realize their potential. Due to this, the armed forces receive developed and sufficiently powerful armored groups in strategically important areas.
According to known data, by now the updated T-80BVM have been deployed on the Kola Peninsula and in the Amur Region. By the end of the year, two new battalions are expected to appear on such equipment, near Murmansk and in Kamchatka. Thus, the protection of the most important lines is strengthened – and modern main battle tanks are becoming a key element of it.