The main battle tank [MBT] BULAT is a heavily modified variant of the T-64B tank. The major redesign was aimed at building a tank with more advanced combat performance capabilities and technical characteristics, a task which was successfully accomplished by the Morozov Machine Design Bureau of Kharkiv.
Enhancements include more powerful weapons, improved mobility performance and higher protection level. The tank BULAT has entered service with the Ukrainian Armed Forces. BULAT is a further development of the T-64B tank by means of installing, among other things, multiple protection explosive reactive armor modules NOZH, these being supplemented by passive armor array, and more advanced fire control system 1A45 similar to that found on the T-80U, T-80UD, T-90 and OPLOT tanks.
In terms of its main combat performance capabilities, the BULAT tank is on a par with the Russian-made T-90 and is coming very close to the Ukrainian OPLOT. The redesign has room for further developments, including a more powerful engine pack with the 6TD-1/2 engine, improved sighting gear, an active protection system and more advanced communications and navigational facilities. The upgrade is expected to preserve the tank’s military usefulness for 15 years past its intended life, and its mileage life will equal to that of a newly-made tank (11,000 km). The crew is set at three persons: commander and gunner are sitting within the turret on the right and left of the gun, respectively, while the driver’s workstation is centrally located in the front hull. Reducing the crew from four to three persons was made possible by introducing an automatic loader, which, coupled with a more densely packed layout design, enabled the vehicle’s overall visual profile to be further reduced, and the tank’s armored surface to be cut to less than 11 m3. Fuel tanks are fitted externally on the front hull on the driver’s right and left, the right one being designed in the form of fuel tank-ammunition rack containing seven rounds of gun ammunition.
The commander enters and leaves the vehicle by a roof hatch located under the gun mount which needs to be removed to a slight angle to provide the access. The bottom escape hatch is positioned immediately behind the driver’s seat, while the fighting compartment –accommodating commander’s and gunner’s stations, gun with coaxial machine-gun, automatic loader, fire control system, vehicular communications and other facilities -- occupies the central hull and the turret. Mounted around the perimeter of the fighting compartment is mechanized carousel-type round rack M3 containing 28 rounds of ammunition. The front hull, tank sides and turret roof are protected with integral explosive reactive armor plates. Protection level of the T-64B tank is elevated to the BULAT capability by means of installing supplementary armor plates on the hull and the turret, enabling the tank’s battlefield survivability to be increased by 2.2 times against shaped-charge rounds and 1.9 times against kinetic-energy munitions. Reduced visual profile is accomplished using camouflage paints. Additionally, the tank can disguise itself on the battlefield by laying a thermal effects protective smoke screen, in addition to a smoke screen generated by the TUCHA smoke discharging system which comprises eight 3D6 smoke grenade launchers and collective control panel. The smoke grenade launchers are mounted externally on the front turret, arranged in six on either side of the gun.
The main armament of the T-64BM BULAT tank is 125-mm smoothbore gun KBA3 or 2A46M-1. The types of ammunition that can be fired by the gun include sub-caliber kinetic energy or shaped-charge projectiles, HEAT (high explosive anti-tank),HE-FRAG (high explosive fragmentation) rounds as well as guided missiles. The number of rounds that T-64BM BULAT can carry is 36 two-piece (projectile and charge) rounds, of which 28 rounds are placed in the automatic loader, with the remainder being stored at the driver's station and in the fighting compartment. Provisions are made for manual loading should the automatic loader fail (true enough, with consequent substantial reduction in the rate of fire). One round of gun ammunition takes from 7.1 s to 19.5 s to load per one turn of the carousel-type magazine. The magazine can also be loaded semi-automatically by the crew during 13-15 minutes. Coaxial 7.62-mm belt feed machine gun has an ammunition capacity of 1,250 ready cartridges and fires 700-800 rounds per minute. Remotely controlled anti-aircraft 12.7-mm machine-gun mount NSVT, which has a load of 300 ready-to-fire rounds, is capable of engaging aerial targets out to 1,500 meters and ground targets out to 2,000 meters.
For enhanced tactical mobility, the engine transmission compartment of the T-64BM BULAT tank is fitted with more powerful engine, specifically the 5TDFM which develops 850 hp and is a boosted derivative of the 5TDF baseline variant.