T-72 tank upgrade

The Morozov Machine Design Bureau [MDB] of Kharkiv has developed a comprehensive program to upgrade the Soviet-vintage T-72 Main Battle Tank (MBT) to a more capable T-72AG configuration.


The T-72 MBT upgrade package is proposed to enhance its combat performance, increase the amount of fire power, improve battlefield survivability characteristics to the modern-day standards and to preserve its military usefulness for another 15-20 years past its intended life. The upgraded T-72AG was first demonstrated at IDEX’97 arms expo in Abu Dhabi, the UAE.

The T-72 upgrade is powered by newly-designed 6TD-series engine which was developed specifically for the T-80UD MBT application otherwise known as OPLOT, replacing a standard 780/840 hp engine equipping the baseline T-72. There are two choices of engine for the modified T-72AG: the 6TD-1 producing 1,000 hp and the 6TD-2 developing 1,200 hp. Both engines provide high performance capabilities in desert-type environments heated up to 55 degrees Centigrade, and they can run on various fuel types, including diesel fuel, petrol, kerosene, jet-propulsion fuel or mixtures of these in various proportions. The engine has a highly compact layout design allowing it to be arranged east-west in the tank’s power pack compartment and coaxial with transmission gear boxes, resulting in the power pack compartment’s space requirement to be reduced to 3.1 m3. 

The upgrade tank can additionally be equipped with a GPS receiver for enhanced tactical mobility. The tank’s protection level is increased by means of installing additional armor panels on the hull glacis plate and the turret front as well as by adding explosive reactive armor to either side of the hull front to provide lateral protection to the driver’s compartment. To secure the crew and passengers against the effects of weapons of mass destruction, provisions are made for an overpressure-type NBC protection system protecting the crew and inner equipment of the tank against the nuclear weapons effects, radioactive dust, toxic agents and bacteriological materials. The overall survivability of the tank is further enhanced by an optronic countermeasures system which is designated VARTA (which means Guards). The VARTA system consists of three key subsystems: the laser threat warner (to give warning of impending attack by laser-guided weapons), the infra-red jammers and the smoke/aerosol screen laying system.

The T-72AG upgrade can retain the standard 125-mm 2A46 gun installed on the T-72. To ensure enhanced hitting power, the 2A46 gun can be replaced with a more advanced same-caliber KBA1 gun of the Ukrainian make, which provides the maximum possible first-round hit probability not only in defeating fixed targets while the tank is stationary but also while both the tank and the target are moving. The Morozov MDB offers one more upgrade package for the T-72 MBT, which includes replacing the 125-mm 2A46 gun with a standard NATO 120-mm gun firing NATO standard rounds. The specific feature of the T-72AG upgrade is that it features an antiaircraft closed gun mount accommodated on the tank commander’s hatch atop the hull. The modified T-72 AG is fitted with an up-to-date fire control suite enabling fixed and mobile targets to be defeated with a high first-round-hit probability while the tank is stationary or moving. The fire control suite may be integrated with a guided weapons suite. The standard TPD-K1 sighting device equipping the baseline T-72 is replaced with the two-axis stabilized 1G46 sighting system, and the gunner’s thermal imaging sighting suite TO1-KO1E with the TPN-4E sight providing the maximum night vision range of 1,200 meters is replacing the TPN-1/3 night sight seen on the T-72.

For reducing the cost of modernization to the minimum possible level, the upgrade works on the T-72 tank, including final assembly, can be performed on site in the Customer’s home country, with most of replacement components and subassemblies to be purchased from local suppliers.