Serbia prepares to modernize M-84 tanks

Modernized tank M-84 AS of the 2000s

Serbian industry has completed the development of a project to modernize the M-84 main battle tank. The other day, the official presentation of the resulting machine took place, and by the end of the year, a serial update of army equipment will begin. In the foreseeable future, the Serbian army will be able to create a fairly large grouping of improved MBT M-84 AS1 Čačak (M-84 AS1 Čačak), which will strengthen its defense.

Official event

According to the Ministry of Defense of Serbia, on June 8, at the Cacak repair plant in the town of the same name, an official presentation of the upgraded M-84 AC1 tank took place. The event was attended by Defense Minister Alexander Vulin and Chief of the General Staff General Milan Moisilovich. The distinguished guests were shown an experienced tank in the final configuration proposed for the series. Also during the event, curious statements were made.


The first version of the M-84 AC1, 2017

Defense Minister A. Vulin said that the new modernization project will make the Serbian tank forces one of the most powerful not only in the region, but throughout Europe. In previous years, the military department paid special attention to the development of the Air Force and Air Defense, and now it is the turn of the ground forces.

A. Vulin recalled that the M-84 tank was created 36 years ago, and since 1991 projects for its modernization have been developed. However, none of these developments has yet reached the mass introduction of the troops. The current AC1 project is the first to be successfully completed and put into production.

Deputy Minister for Material Resources Nenad Miloradovich clarified the technical features of the new project, and also named the start of production. The first MBT M-84 for updating will arrive at the Chachak plant by the end of this year. The duration of the upgrade has not been named; the full volumes of the updater also remain unknown.


The leadership of the Ministry of Defense of Serbia at the presentation of the finished M-84 AC1

Organizational matters

MBT M-84 was adopted by Yugoslavia in the mid-eighties, and then, in connection with the collapse of the country, the tanks dispersed to the armies of the newly independent states. Over time, this technique became obsolete, which resulted in several attempts at modernization. Serbia has dealt with this issue since the early nineties, but still cannot boast of any particular success.

To improve the fighting qualities of the tank as a whole, an increase in the level of protection, an upgrade of the armament complex, an improvement of the power unit, etc. is required. In the middle of the two thousandth, a project of this kind called M-84AS was created, but it did not progress further than testing experimental equipment. The Serbian army showed interest in the modernized MBT, and an export contract could also appear. But no real orders were received.


Today’s M-84 AC1 differs markedly from the previous version

In the mid-tenths, work began on the modern project M-84 AC1. The prototype of this model was first shown in 2017, when it was already undergoing tests. Since then, the appearance of the tank has changed markedly; in the current version of the modernization, other components with increased characteristics are used. By now, all work has been completed, and the project is almost ready for serial production.

Technical features

It is reported that the modernization of the M-84 according to the new project will be carried out in two stages. The first one provides for the updating of 9 various onboard systems. On the second, another 12 will be changed. As a result, the upgraded tank will receive all the necessary components and assemblies that increase its characteristics.

In the M-84 AC1 project, special attention is paid to the issues of increasing protection. The tank’s own armor does not change, but is supplemented by attachments and other devices. The frontal and side projection of the hull and turret are covered with reactive armor of the 2nd generation. Initially, small blocks were used in limited areas, and in the final version of the project, large products are used to protect all major parts of the structure.

Armor and DZ are complemented by an automatic softkill system. A set of sensors for laser and electromagnetic radiation is used, according to which smoke grenades are fired. The possibility of using active protection was mentioned earlier.

It is argued that these measures provide protection against all current threats – cumulative and sub-caliber shells, as well as anti-tank missiles, incl. attacking from the upper hemisphere.

An upgraded track is used to improve mobility and performance. The power plant and transmission have not yet been replaced. Perhaps they will be updated in the future.

Measures have been taken to improve the situational awareness of the crew, simplify driving and expand tactical capabilities. There is a video system with an all-round view for the driver, a panoramic sight for the commander, modern means of communication and data transmission, etc.

The main weapon remains the same – the licensed version of the Soviet 2A46 cannon. Almost all components of the fire control system are being replaced. The OMS and its components are integrated into a single information management system. The crew has modern combined sights; a panoramic one is intended for the commander. Management is carried out from fully digital workplaces. A remotely controlled weapon station with a large-caliber machine gun was used as an additional weapon.

Project results

Officials claim that the modernization of tanks on the new M-84 AC1 project will make the Serbian armored forces one of the most powerful forces in the region and the continent. Such statements sound very presumptuous, but they seem to have a right to life. The Chachak project really has a high potential and can have a significant impact on the military-political situation.


New tower equipment

The M-84 AC1 project takes into account the main modern threats to tanks and provides for appropriate measures in the field of protection. Fire capabilities are expanding due to modern communications and weapons control systems. An important component of the project is the overhaul of armored vehicles with the extension of its service life.

The exact characteristics of the upgraded tank, incl. the most important have not yet been disclosed. However, the available data suggest that the M-84 version of the “Chachak” is not inferior to other foreign tanks made by modernizing old models. Therefore, statements about the most powerful troops in the region have some basis.


Active module close-up

However, in order to obtain all the desired results of a military and political nature, it is necessary not only to develop a project, but also to modernize the army’s fleet of armored vehicles. Such processes will start at the end of the year and will take a certain time – the timing of their completion directly depends on the number of tanks planned for modernization.

According to the IISS The Military Balance 2020, the Serbian army has 199 M-84 MBTs. Theoretically, all of them can be updated according to a new project, however, the actual volumes of modernization directly depend on the financial and industrial capabilities of the country. It was mentioned earlier that all available tanks can be upgraded. How long such a program will take is unknown, although it is obvious that it will not be quick and easy.


Warlords are studying a new design caterpillar

It should be noted that MBT M-84 are in service with several other countries that may be interested in the Chachak project. So, Croatia operates 75 tanks in the basic configuration and independently upgraded. Slovenia has approx. 45 M-84, with only 14 being used. Another operator of the M-84 tanks is Kuwait with 150 units of various modifications (half in storage).

Distant future

In the absence of serious problems of a technical, economic or other nature, Serbia has the opportunity to modernize at least a significant part of its tank fleet within several years. One cannot exclude its ability to update all combatant M-84s, and then enter the international market.

Time will show what the future holds for the M-84 AC1 project. The modernization will be launched by the end of the year, and at the same time its planned volumes and terms can be announced. The future of the Serbian armored forces as one of the main forces of the region depends on these plans, as well as on the success of their implementation.

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