The Russian T-80 Tank is a 2nd Generation Main Battle Tank currently in service with the Russian Army and exported to a small number of countries.
The T-80 was developed as a replacement to the problematic T-64 Tank series. The T-80 was considered to be a more advanced main battle tank than the cheaper T-72 and was built in lower numbers.
It has a 3 man crew, retaining the autoloader concept of the T-64 and T-72, armed with a 125mm smoothbore main gun and fitted with a powerful gas turbine engine.
After the T-80 Tank losses during the First Chechen War, the operating costs of running a gas turbine engine, production of the T-80 ceased.
Instead, its technology was implemented in an upgrade of the T-72, resulting in the T-90, which is in service with the Russian Army.
That said, the T-80 Tank upgraded Kontakt-5 armor and ATGM capability was of great concern to some NATO tank crews.
T-80 Tank Description
The T-80 uses a 125mm Smoothbore main gun. this is the version of the 2A46 series and has been upgraded in later T-80 models. It is capable of firing Anti-Tank Guided Missiles through the main gun such as the Kobra and Refleks.
The T-80 uses a similar autoloader to the T-72, using 2 part ammunition stored in revolving magazines in the turret floor. The mechanism loads both parts of the round directly into the breach 1 at a time.
A coaxial Machine Gun us installed as standard, with a further larger calibre Machine Gun mounted on the Commanders Cupola. This can be rotated and elevated for firing from within the cupola.
The T-80 has a fixed Gunners day sight and secondary Night Vision. This has been upgraded in later T-80 models, with Infa-Red and then Thermal imagery.
The Commander has a fixed Sight, lacking an Independent Sight associated with 3rd Generation Tanks.
Like most Russian Main Battle Tanks, the T-80 has a smaller and lower shaped profile compared to Western tanks. The hull features a long slopping upper glacis in front of the driver. This has been improved with laminate armor welded across its front during upgraded models.
The turret has a circular shape. The main composite armor is located at the front and has been improved during its upgraded models leaving a visible lip at the bottom.
The T-80 Tank can be fitted with Explosive Reactive Armor. This has included Kontakt-1 and Kontakt-5 ERA bricks fitted across the turrets front and top, upper glacis plate and front sides of the hull.
A key feature of the T-80 Tank was the use of a gas-turbine engine, which would ultimately seal its fate within the Russian Army. The decision to use a gas-turbine engine was based on the increased output compared to a traditional piston-powered engine of the same size.
The T-80 was the first mass-produced tank (followed 3 years later by the M1 Abrams) in the world to feature a gas turbine engine. It gave the T-80 Tank unmatched mobility and speed off-road for what is a relatively small Main Battle Tank and improved the vehicles survivability compared to other Russian Tanks.
The only down side to using a gas turbine engine is the higher fuel consumption resulting in a lower operational range. The vehicle used torsion bar suspension, a manual gearbox and had optional external fuel tanks on the hulls rear.
T-80 Tank Production Models
Russian T-80 Tank (1976)
The initial T-80 Model was developed as a replacement to the T-64, however it would have a symbiotic relationship with the T-64 in later upgrades, incorporating many of the upgrades developed for the T-64 Series. Russia had been toying with the concept of a gas-turbine engine for a tank since the 1950’s.
About 60 pilot tanks were built-in 1968–71 examining various suspension and sub-component combinations. Trials continued well into 1974 and whilst the improved mobility given by a gas turbine engine proved popular, its high fuel consumption, short service life and lesser operational range raised some concerns.
Despite these issues, the lack of improvements over the T-64 series in terms of firepower and protection, production commenced in 1976 in relatively low numbers until the improved production model “T-80B” was ready.
Russian T-80B Tank (Production 1978)
The Russian T-80B Tank was the first major upgrade of the T-80 Tank and was the most common production model built. It featured improvements in firepower, such as the ability to fire a radio-guided anti-tank missile and improvements in the vehicles armor.
Russian T-80BV Tank (Production 1985)
Following the successful use of Blazer Explosive Reactive Armor by the Israeli Defence Force during the 1982 Lebanon War and seeing the new armors ability to defeat shaped charged ammunition (HEAT), Russia developed its own ERA called “Kontakt”. This would later be known as Kontakt-1 after development of Kontakt-5 ERA.
LKZ started to manufacture the T-80B with Kontakt in 1985, now designated T-80BV (Vyzryvnoi – explosive in English).
Russian T-80U Tank (Production 1987)
The Russian T-80U Tank is the 3rd production model of the T-80. If features a new turret, 1250hp engine, Kontakt-5 Explosive Reactive Armor & Refleks ATGM.
Russian T-80UK Tank
Command Version of the T-80U, it featured additional radio equipment, land navigation system, but most importantly the Shtora “Soft-Kill” Active Protection System. This has x2 laser jammers mounted on the turrets front.
Armored Recovery Vehicle based on the T-80U chassis. Dedicated Page
T-80 Tank Export Models & Prototypes
The Gas Turbine engine concept proved popular in some respects in terms of mobility, but had a negative effective on fuel consumption and engine service life. There were a number of projects experimenting with diesel engines as an alternative to the Gas Turbine. The Ukrainian manufacturer (Kharkov) of the T-80U built their own version using their own multi-fuel, two-stroke turbo-piston 6TD-1 6-cylinder diesel engine, which generated 1000hp.The T-80UD would go on to be developed into the T-84.
Dedicated Model Page Read More
An export model offered by Omsk (T-80 Manufacturer) prior to its bankruptcy. It featured the Arena “Hard-Kill” Active Protection System. Arena has the ability to detect incoming threats like ATGM and launches a projectile into the path of the threat to destroy it. The vehicle remained at the demonstrator phase and was not exported.
Another export model that featured the older Drozd “Hard-Kill” Active Protection System. The vehicle remained at the demonstrator phase and was not exported.
2 mock-ups of the Object 640 Black Eagle Tank were built based on the T-80U hull. It had a 125mm main gun, autoloader, Kaktus ERA & Arena Active Protection.
To Be Added
T-80 Tank Operators
China – T-80BV were supplied to China for evaluation purposes.
Morrocco – 5 were acquired in the late 1980’s for evaluation.
Sweden – Trialled in 1993, Sweden eventually with the Leopard 2 (Strv 122).
Unitied Kingdom – 1 sold to the UK in 1992 by Russia.
Belarus – inherited 92 T-80BV after the collapse of the USSR.
Cyprus – 41 tanks including 14 T-80UK delivered between 1996–97.
Pakistan – Ukraine supplied Pakistan with 320 T-80UD between 1997-99.
Russia – By 1991, a total of 4907 T-80 tanks were in service, mostly being T-80B & T-80BV. This number has declined with the purchase of T-90A. It was announced in 2017 that Russia will be taking a largee number of T-80B/T-80BV out of storage and upgrading them.
South Korea – 43 vehicles delivered in batches. First was for x33 delivered in 1996-97 and x10 2005-06.
Ukraine – 350 T-80UD tanks were left in the manufacturers stock after the collapse of the USSR. Some remained with the Ukraine and others were exported to Pakistan.
T-80BV Tank Specifications
|Main Gun||125mm Smoothbore 2A46M-1
Elevation -5 to +14
|Secondary Weapons||x1 coaxial 7.62mm MG, x1 12.7mm MG|
|Ammunition Storage||x38 125mm, x1250 7.62mm, x300 12.7mm|
|Transmission||Manual (5 forward/ 1 reverse gears)|
|Top Road Speed||70 km/h|
|Road Range||335 km|
|Fuel Capacity||1840 Litres|
|Water Capability||1.8m Fording, 5m with snorkel kit|
|Length Gun Forward||9.65m|
|Weight||43,700kg aka 43.7 tonne combat|
|Armor Type||Steel/Slope/Laminate/Explosive Reactive|
|Active Protection Systems||No|