T-80 Main Battle Tank (MBT)
The Soviet/Russian T-80 Main Battle Tank was a modernized T-64 with improvements borrowed from the successful T-72 series.
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The T-80 of the Russian Army was born in the era of the Soviet Empire during the Cold War. The type was a further evolution of the T-64 line with elements of the successful T-72 added for promising measure. The end result, the first production tank to utilize a gas turbine engine, proved a limited success with numbers never reaching those of its predecessor nor the overtly popular T-72. While still in active service today (2012), the days of the T-80 as a frontline battlefield solution are coming to an end as its available numbers are continually reduced with each passing year. The T-90 (based on the T-72) maintains the primary position in the modern Russian Army, leaving the T-80 as something of an interim solution at best, a measure serving to bridge the gap between the expired Soviet-era T-64 and modern Russian Federation T-90.
In 1963, the Red Army began use of the T-64 Main Battle Tank which formed the spearhead of Soviet armor strength during the critical years of the Cold War. The T-64 incorporated an automatic loader coupled to a 125mm smoothbore main gun capable of firing guided anti-tank missiles. Its arrival certainly forced the West to take notice as it represented the most modern Red Army tank of the time. The T-72 was then developed in short order as a simpler, economical counterpart to the T-64, though it ended up surpassing the T-64 in both numbers and world popularity (some 25,000 T-72 tanks were produced to the 13,000 T-64s). Soviet tank doctrine called for both tank types to serve concurrently and allowed for financial flexibility in the long term. As the T-64 was considered something of a "state secret" in terms of its technology and capabilities, it was not openly exported as the T-72 was.