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Russian T-80B Tank

T-80B Main Battle Tank

Russian T-80BV Tank
Unveiled / Entered Service
Ukrainian T-80BV Tank
In Service
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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 armour.

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

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.


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 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.


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.

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 armoured 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.


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.

T-80B With Arena
T-80B With Arena

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.

The T-80B was also trialled with the Arena Active Protection System.


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.

Variants and Marks

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.

The T-80BVM Tank

Russian T-80BVM Tanks
T-80BVM Tanks

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


  • Belarus – Reportedly transferred from East German storage at the end of the Cold War, they were later sold to Yemen.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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


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
1100hp GTD-1000TF
Manual (5 forward/ 1 reverse gears)
Top Road Speed
70 km/h
Road Range
335 km
Fuel Capacity
1840 Litres
Vertical Obstacle
Water Capability
1.8m Fording, 5m with snorkel kit
Trench Crossing
Side Slope
Length Gun Forward
Length Hull
Ground Clearance
43.7 tonne combat
NBC Protected
Standard Armor(s) Type
Steel, Laminated, Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA)
Optional Add-on Armor(s) Type
Active Protection Systems
Commander, Gunner, Driver