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Russian T-80B Tank
Russia

T-80 Main Battle Tank

T-80U Tank
Unveiled / Entered Service
1978
Russian T-80BVM Tank
Status
In Service
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Table of Contents

Steel Aces Play for free
the highly anticipated MMO tactical tank shooter for 2024.

Introduction

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.

Background

The T-80 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.

Russia unveiled its new 4th generation Main Battle Tank, the T-14 Armata in 2015. It was intended to be a gradual replacement for the Russian Army’s front line Main Battle Tanks, with the expected service entry put back and eventually cancelled in 2018.

With the T-90 and T-80 being so old, it was decided to update and upgrade both vehicles (at a reduced cost compared to a T-14) to the T-90A and T-80BVM, which entered service in 2017.

Firepower

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.

Protection

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 armour welded across its front during upgraded models.

The turret has a circular shape. The main composite armour 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 Armour. This has included Kontakt-1, Kontakt-5 and Relikt ERA bricks fitted across the turrets front and top, upper glacis plate and front sides of the hull.

Mobility

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.

Variants and Marks

Russian Army Models

Russian T-80 Tank (1976)

T-80 Tank First Production Model
T-80 Tank First Production Model

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)

T-80B Tank
The T-80B Tank was the first upgraded model

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 armour. READ DEDICATED PAGE

Russian T-80BV Tank (Production 1985)

T-80BV Tank
The T-80BV was the T-80B fitted with Kontakt-1 ERA

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). READ DEDICATED PAGE

Russian T-80U Tank (Production 1987)

T-80U Tank
The T-80U Tank was the second main upgraded production model

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 ArmoUr & Refleks ATGM. READ DEDICATED PAGE

Russian T-80UK Tank

Russian T-80UK Tank
T-80UK Tank is the Command Model of the T-80U

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.

BREM-80U

Armoured Recovery Vehicle based on the T-80U chassis.

Russian T-80BVM (Production 1987)

Since 2017, 100+ T-80B have been upgraded to the T-80BVM model in batches of 50. The T-80BVM is a modernisation of the T-80B. IF features updated ERA, fire control system, replacement main gun and other upgrades. READ DEDICATED PAGE

Export Models & Prototypes

T-80UD

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. READ DEDICATED PAGE

T-80UM-1

Arena on T-80UM-1 Export Tank
Arena on T-80UM-1 Export Tank

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.

T-80UM-2

Another export model that featured the older Drozd “Hard-Kill” Active Protection System. The vehicle remained at the demonstrator phase and was not exported.

Black Eagle

Object 640 Black Eagle Tank
Object 640 Black Eagle Tank

Two 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. READ DEDICATED PAGE

T-84

To Be Added

Operators

  • Belarus – Reportedly transferred from East German storage at the end of the Cold War, they were later sold to Yemen.
  • Cyprus – Ordered x4 BREM-80U ARV and x41 T-80U tanks, delivered in 1996-97. Identical second order delivered 2010-12, all surplus Russian Army stock.
  • Pakistan – Supplied from Ukraine, x270 T-80U and x50 T-80UD delivered between 1997-1999. In 2021 it was reported Pakistan had approved Ukrainian state company UkrOboronProm to overhaul their fleet. In 2023 it was also reported Pakistan was considering gifting Ukraine some of their T-80UD tanks to support their defence against the Russian Invasion and occupation.
  • Russia – Several thousand built of varying models. Majority went into storage after the Cold War and First Chechen War. Since 2017, 100+ T-80B have been upgraded to the T-80BVM model in batches of 50. Its  expected for 2023-2024, additional T-80BVM orders of similar sizes to be placed due to losses in the Russian Invasion of Ukraine.
  • South Korea – Two deliveries of T-80U made in 1996-97 and 2005-06 totalling x43 vehicles, which its believed are used as the opposing force in training exercises.
  • Ukraine – Both Russia and Ukraine manufactured the T-80. Ukraine operated both the T-80BV and T-80UD. Through out the 90’s some of these were sold onto other countries, whilst the others went into storage, with the Ukrainian Army favouring their older T-64 tanks. During the Russian invasion and occupation of Ukraine, T-80BV have been pressed back into Ukrainian Army service and during a TV news interview with their tank crews in 2022, they described their T-80BV as their most modern battle tank. In addition, they have captured a number of different Russian T-80 models.
  • Yemen – A total of x92 T-80B tanks supplied from Belarus and delivered in 2010-12.

It was rumoured that at some point T-80 series tanks have been sold to the UK, China and Uzbekistan. However, there are no records in the arms transfer database of vehicles being transferred from either the former Soviet Union, Russian Federation or Ukraine to these countries.

Trialled Vehicles

  • Greece – Trialled against several other tank including Challenger 2, Leclerc and Leopard 2, which was the eventual winner.
  • Morrocco – 5 were acquired in the late 1980’s for evaluation.
  • Sweden – Trialled in 1993, Sweden eventually with the Leopard 2.

Combat History

1994 – 96: First Chechen War

The T-80 had a mixed success during the war. Its weak spots were exploited and targeted by Chechen rebels using RPG’s whilst the tanks were operating in built up areas. The high level of T-80 losses was used as an excuse not to operate gas turbine engine tanks in the future and the T-80 was not used in subsequent Russian conflicts until the 2022 Invasion Of Ukraine.

2022 to current: Invasion Of Ukraine

The T-80 has been used by both the Russian Federation and Ukraine through out the war. Russian T-80 tanks, including the T-80BVM, have proved susceptible to Western Anti-Tank missiles such as the Javelin and NLAW. Ukraine has captured immobilised Russian T-80 and pressed them back into Ukrainian service.

2014 Houthi takeover in Yemen

Government forces used the T-80BV against Shiite rebels, who apparently captured one.

Specifications

characteristic
Result
Main Gun
125mm Smoothbore 2A46M-1 / Elevation -5 to +14
Secondary Weapons
Coaxial 7.62mm Machine Gun, commanders 50 cal machine gun
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
?
Width
3.58m
Height
2.21m
Ground Clearance
0.45m
Weight
43.7 tonne combat
NBC Protected
yes
Standard Armor(s) Type
Steel, Laminated, Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA)
Optional Add-on Armor(s) Type
Active Protection Systems
soft_kill
Crew
Commander, Gunner, Driver