T-80 Soviet Main Battle Tank T80

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T-80 Soviet Main Battle Tank T80

The T-80 is a Soviet Main Battle Tank. A development of the T-64, It was first produced in 1983 and was the first production tank to be equipped with a gas turbine engine. The latest version, the T-84, continues to be produced in Ukraine. The T-80 and its variants are in service in Cyprus, Pakistan, Russia, South Korea, and Ukraine.

1 Production history
2 Design traits
2.1 Variants

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Specs for T-80 ( T80 )
Crew 3
Length 7.01 m
Width 3.60 m
Height 2.20 m
Weight 46.0 t
Primary armament 125 mm 2A46 smoothbore gun
Secondary armament 7.62 mm PKT machine gun in coaxial mount
12.7 mm NSVT anti-aircraft machine gun in remote control mount on the front of commander's hatch
Power plant 932 kW (1250 hp) gas turbine
Speed 70 km/h (road)
48 km/h (off-road)
Range 335 km
600 km (with extra tanks)

Production history
The T-80 has been confused by some Western analysts with the Soviet T-72, to the point that some analysts wonder why the Soviets "chose to assign it a different model designation". However a quick overview of Soviet tanks and their histories provides clarity: the T-80 and T-72 are mechanically very different. They are the products of different design bureaus (the T-80 from (Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau in Kharkiv, Ukraine, the T-72 from Uralvagonzavod at Nizhny Tagil, Russia), and really are only similar in general appearance. The T80 is based on the earlier T-64, which was a complementary design to the T-72.

The T-64 was KMDB (Morozov)'s offering, a high-technology main battle tank designed to replace the obsolescent IS-3 and T-10 heavy tanks, used in the Red Army's independent tank units. The T-72 was intended to be a tank mass-produced to equip the bulk of Soviet mechanized units, and for sale to export partners and east-bloc satellite states. The mechanically simpler T-72 is simpler to manufacture, and easier to service in the field, though it is not as well armoured.

The T-64's story continues in the T80. Morozov improved upon the earlier design, including introducing a variant with a gas turbine engine. This gave the tank a high power-to-weight ratio and made it easily the most mobile tank in the world. While there are other tanks which boast similar power (the Abrams M1 series has a 1,500 hp (1,120 kW) gas turbine as well, but weighs 70 tons), the T-80 is almost half the size and weight; its consequent maneuverability sees it referred to as the "flying tank". Subsequent Ukrainian development of the conventional diesel engine has allowed the T-80UD and T-84 to retain the "most mobile" title (according to most experts), while dispensing with the complicated, resource-hungry gas turbine. (The smaller size and weight of the T-80 and other Soviet tanks also contributes to the similarity in their looks; the Soviets had a 'national tank design ethic', which included pan-shaped turrets, sharp hull fronts and low profiles).

It has been suggested that the Russians are "desperate" to find export partners for the T-80, but this is not true; in the post-Soviet era, the Russians are of necessity partners with the Ukrainians in the T80, as Morozov is in Kharkiv, Ukraine (Ukraine has been independent since the break up of the Soviet Union, in 1991). Exports of the T-80 have been moderately successful, selling units of two types to the Pakistani Army. Meanwhile, the Russians seem to be abandoning the T-80, incorporating some of its technology into a new T-72 development, the T-90 (and have had some success selling it to the Indian Army).

Design traits
The T-80's disadvantages are the product of the small size of the tank (about 1/2 to 3/4 that of the M1, depending on the aspect). Despite the Soviet tendency to select only soldiers of small stature as tank crew, the crew quarters are cramped and difficult to work in. Except in more modern versions of the tank (like the Oplot), the ammunition is stored below the crew inside the crew compartment in the autoloader carousel, which means that when the tank is penetrated, the ammunition can cook off, killing the crew and blowing the turret into the air. Due to the low turret roof, the lowest gun elevation is only a few degrees below zero and so it is more difficult to find hull-down positions that the tank can fire from. The latest prototype, the T-84 Oplot, has an entirely new turret with armoured ammunition compartment, and presumably improved gun depression (as does the latest Russian development, the Black Eagle concept tank).

These disadvantages are endemic to Soviet tank design; nearly all Soviet tanks suffer them, so that the only additional disadvantage of the T-80 series might be its mechanical complexity. In any case, most customers cannot afford T-80s, and the most recent (and even more expensive) prototypes have solved all of these problems and in many ways are more similar to current Western offerings, excepting that they are considerably smaller and still less expensive.

T80 - First production model, essentially a T-64 with GTD-1000 1,100 hp (820 kW) gas turbine engine.
T-80B - New ceramic armour.
T-80BV - Added explosive reactive armour.
T-80U (1985) - New turret. Added ATGM AT-11 Sniper. Improved 1,250 hp (930 kW) GTD-1250 engine. Added Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armour; which defeats APFSDS.
T-80UD - Ukrainian diesel-engined version with 1,000 hp (750 kW) 6TD engine (exported to Pakistan).
T-80UK, T-80UDK - Command version of T-80U, equipped with the Shtora Electro-optical countermeasures system.
T-80UM - Russian version, with new Buran Thermal Imaging sight in place of Luna IR.
T-80UM1 "Snow Leopard" (Bars) - Russian prototype with new Arena countermeasures system.
T-80UM2 "Black Eagle" (Chorny Oriol) - Russian prototype with new turret including separate crew and ammo compartments, blow-out panels on the ammo compartment, new autoloader, Kaktus ERA, new targeting systems, extended hull with an additional road wheel, and other undisclosed improvements.
T-84 - Ukrainian development of the T-80UD. See T-84 for details.

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