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The main battle tank OPLOT-M

The MBT [main battle tank] OPLOT, first built in 1994, is an advanced derivative of the T-80UD MBT which differs from the baseline design by way of several improvements, including a cast and welded steel turret, a new-generation integral ERA [explosive reactive armor] system; a 1,200 hp engine in place of a 1,000 hp motor and a thermal imaging sight, in addition to other enhancements that improved significantly the vehicle’s hitting power, battlefield/strategic mobility performance capabilities and the level of protection.

The OPLOT is the result of multiyear main battle tank development effort by the Morozov Machine Design Bureau of Kharkiv, aimed at building a tank complying with the modern-day ground warfare standards. The overall layout of the OPLOT is conventional with the driver’s compartment at the front, fighting compartment in the center and power pack at the rear. The crew is set at three (commander, driver and gunner). The main armament comprises a stabilized 125-mm KBA3 smoothbore gun fed by a carousel-type automatic loader and fitted with a thermal sleeve and fume extractor (bore evacuator). The gun is stabilized in both elevation and traverse. The main gun has a quick-replacement barrel which can be changed under field conditions without the need to remove the gun from the tank. The automatic loader, which is built into an autonomous armoured module, is sitting in the fore body section of the tank.

The specific feature of the tank is that it is fitted with a guided missile system [indigenously-designed KOMBAT] to enable the main gun to fire a laser guided missile and engage targets out to 5,000 m.

The missiles are stowed in the automatic loader in the same way as conventional ammunition. The T-84 is outfitted with an integrated vehicle protection system, which includes passive armor, explosive reactive armor array as well as a number of other tank protection devices that are optimized against modern anti-tank weapons and make the tank considerably less vulnerable to the full range of anti-tank weapons. The armor protection of the T-84, which includes advanced multi-layer armor and indigenously-designed built-in third-generation explosive reactive armor package for the turret and chassis, provides to the T-84 a high level of battlefield survivability. The main armor is a laminated ‘sandwich’ of armored plate and ceramics which gives the tank superior ballistic protection against most forms of attack, greatly reducing penetration and behind armor effect. The hull and turret of the T-84 over the forward arc are fitted with the latest generation NOZH (‘knife’) explosive reactive armor package which gives protection against both chemical energy and kinetic energy attack (APFSDS and HEAT-type projectiles). In addition to being fitted to the hull and turret, explosive reactive armor panels are also fitted to either side of the hull front to provide lateral protection to each side of the driver’s compartment. The explosive reactive armor system is of a modular design so that it can be easily replaced or upgraded allowing new explosive reactive armor developments to be incorporated in the future when this becomes available. The main armor and the explosive reactive armor together ensure superior protection against sophisticated modern anti-armor weapons. The overall survivability of the T-84 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 overpressure-type NBC protection system protects the crew and inner equipment of the tank against the nuclear weapon effects, radioactive dust, toxic agents and bacteriological materials. The radiation shielding is designed in the form of a liner fixed on both internal and external surfaces of the tank to give protection against radiation from nuclear explosions. In the overall vehicle design, the designers have laid great emphasis on the urgent need to reduce the signatures (thermal, radar, acoustic etc) of the tank. In particular, the T-84 MBT power pack compartment features thermal signature reduction technology, as its top deck is fitted with special heat insulation devices, this resulting in a low thermal signature of the tank. To defeat detection by battlefield radar, anti-radar coating is provided and the tank turret is fitted with a collar of rubber skirts which hang from the turret front and reduce the radar signature of the T-84. For reduced observability, provision is also made for fitting the vehicle with the indigenously designed camouflage system KONTRAST.

The T-84 is powered by a model 6TD-2 diesel engine developing 1,200 hp. The engine has been designed to give good performance in all weather conditions, in particular at high temperatures. Although a diesel engine, the 6TD-2 diesel will also run on other fuels including petrol, kerosene, jet engine fuel or their mixture in any proportion. The capacity of the internal fuel tanks is 700 liters with an additional 440 liters being stowed in the fuel tanks above the tracks. This gives the T-84 a fuel distance of 400 km. To extend the operational range of the T-84, additional drum-type fuel tanks can be mounted at the hull rear. These can be quickly jettisoned if necessary. Each of these fuel drums holds 200 liters of fuel and is connected to the main fuel supply. The air inlet of the engine allows air to be ducted from the least dusty quarter and enables water obstacles to be crossed to a water depth of 1.8 m without preparation.