The T-80B Tank was upgraded to the T-80BV

The T-80B Tank was upgraded to the T-80BV

The Russian T-80B Tank was the first major upgrade of the T-80 Main Battle 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.

Also known as the Obiekt 219RV (Object), the T-80B had a revised turret, with changes to accommodate new fire control equipment and armor.

The T-80B could be identified quickly by the new GTN-12 command antenna box mounted on the right side of the turret in front of the Commanders Cupola and the new Smoke Grenade Launchers mounted across the turrets front.

T-80B Tank Service History

The T-80B was accepted into Russian Army service in 1978, with production commencing in the same year at the Leningrad Kirov Plant (LKZ) and later in 1979 at Omsktransmash (Omsk transport machine factory) who were responsable for developing the Command version T-80BK.

The vehicle was first spotted by NATO in 1983 and its understood that Belarus ended up with 92 T-80B after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with Russia being the main operator of the tank.

T-80B Tank

T-80B Tank

T-80B production would later be replaced by the T-80BV (“explosive” vyzryvnoi = V) in 1985, which was fitted with Kontakt-1 Explosive Reactive Armor.

The T-80BV and the 3rd production model, the T-80U served in the Chechnyan Wars. They suffered heavy losses during ambushes in-built up areas and the Russian Army announced it would not pursue the upgrade or production of gas turbine engine tanks.

Despite this, Russian media have stated in 2017 that an undisclosed number of T-80B and T-80BV currently in army storage are to be upgraded and pressed back into Russian Army Service. Their Fire Control System will feature elements used on the T-90MS. They will also reportedly have improved protection and a better fuel consumption.

T-80B Tank Firepower Improvements

T-80B Tank GTN-12 command antenna for Kobra Missile

T-80B Tank GTN-12 command antenna for Kobra Missile

Some elements of the Soviet Tank Design Bureaus were convinced that the future of tank ammunition lay in Anti-Tank Guided Missiles fired from the conventional 2A46 (aka D-81 Rapira-3) 125mm main gun. They could be guided onto moving tanks, have greater range and the ability to attack low flying anti-tank helicopters.

An Infa-Red Guided missile and Radio Guided missile called Kobra were developed for the main gun. Ultimately the Kobra was selected for the T-80B upgrade.

T-80B Tank Turret

T-80B Tank Turret being installed with the autoloaders vertical storage visible

Changes were made to the autoloaders design to accommodate the new missile. The T-80B carousel Korzhina autoloader was different in that the round or ATGM warhead was stored vertically and the propellent was stored in a vertical magazine.

Like standard tank ammunition for the T-80B, the missile was stowed and loaded in 2 parts, the front element was the warhead and rocket motor, the rear has a battery, the flight controls, a light source for the guidance system on the tank to track and a small antenna to receive commands from the tank.

The Kobra was guided via the GTN-12 command antenna, which ws fitted in an armored box mounted on the right side of the turret in front of the Commanders Cupola. The T-80B retained an Infa-Red Search Light, but was moved to the right side of the main gun. The T-80B Fire Control System featured a Laser Designator and the Gunners sight had visible changes.

T-80B Tank Armor Improvements

Images Sourced and Copyright of – Yuri Pasholok at PrimePortal.Net 

The T-80B turret was fitted with a new armor called “Combination K”, which was the equivalent to 550mm of steel. This new armor gave the turret a more flatter shape at the front and had a visible protruding lip along the bottom towards the turret ring.

The front glacis plate also received an improved laminate armor. This was a top layer of 80mm thick steel (hull), then 105mm of reinforced plastic (called steklopastika) and a 20mm steel backing plate, the equivalent to 500mm of steel.

Pre T-80BV Tank production, there were concerns about the T-80B hulls laminate armor resistance to Western tanks ammunition. As a short-term gap, an appliqué 20mm steel thick plate was welded to the front of the hull. This is visible on most T-80B used in museum collections where you can see the V-Shape ice breaker has been removed.

Additional protection features included the installation of a total of x8 Smoke Grenade Launchers mounted along the turrets front. x3 of the 8 are on the right side and the remaining x5 are on the left.

T-80B Tank Mobility

The T-80 initially used the GTD-1000 Gas Turbine Engine, which was 1000hp. The T-80B used the upgraded version, the GTD-1000TF, which is 1100hp. This is confirmed on the engine manufacturers website, now called KLIMOV.

The T-80BV Tank

Images Sourced and Copyright of – V. Kuzmin @

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).

The T-80BV is lacking the appliqué 20mm steel plate welded on the hull front and 2 new rubber flaps are mounted to the lower hull glacis plate. These would be later retained in the 2nd production model, the T-80U. Its thought these keep the dust down generated during the vehicles movement so as to avoid damage from sucking the dust into the engines air-cooling intake.

T-80B Tank Operators

Belarus – Inherieted 92 T-80BV after the collapse of the USSR.

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 announed in 2017 that Russia will be taking a largee number of T-80B/T-80BV out of storage and upgrading them.

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
Engine 1100hp GTD-1000TF
Transmission Manual (5 forward/ 1 reverse gears)
Top Road Speed 70 km/h
Road Range 335 km
Fuel Capacity 1840 Litres
Vertical Obstacle 1m
Water Capability 1.8m Fording, 5m with snorkel kit
Trench Crossing 2.85m
Gradient 60%
Side Slope 40%
Length Gun Forward 9.65m
Length Hull ?m
Height 2.21m
Ground Clearance 0.45m
Weight 43,700kg aka 43.7 tonne combat
NBC Protected Yes
Armor Type Steel/Slope/Laminate/Explosive Reactive
Active Protection Systems No
Commander Yes
Gunner Yes
Driver Yes
Additional Crew
Troops Carried n/a