T-84 (Oplot) Main Battle Tank (MBT)
The T-84 is a much-improved Ukranian development of the original Soviet-era T-80 Main Battle Tank.
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The nation of Ukraine was under the Soviet sphere of influence up to 1990 when the Empire was dissolved amidst a move to a more democratic state. Nations such as the Ukraine garnered their independence to become sovereign powers once more. During its years under Soviet rule, the Ukrainian military was subject to procurement of Soviet-inspired designs that included aircraft, small arms, tanks and armored vehicles. One such system became the T-80, a Soviet main battle tank that had entered service in 1976 with the Soviet Army and never saw export until the end of the Soviet Empire. The tank still operates in large numbers (albeit dwindling to an extent) across the globe. Over 5,400 of the type were produced and subsequently passed on to successor states when the new Russia emerged. It was this tank - or, more specifically, the T-80UD production model - that was selected by the Ukrainian government to modernized and upgrade to new Ukrainian Army standards. Ukraine managed up to 345 T-80s as recently as 1995 though this number has since declined over time. Nevertheless, Ukrainian experience with Russian equipment was there.
The selection of the T-80 was essentially one of necessity for the Ukrainians sought to become more independent concerning their military requirements. As such, it was seen that localized efforts would become the call of the day, resulting in a Ukraine that was less dependent on foreign parties for which to staff her military requirements in the foreseeable future. While the resulting design initiative actually began in the late 1980s, the new "T-84" did not appear until 1995, entering frontline service with the Ukrainian Army in 1999. Design of the type was undertaken by the KMDB (Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau) firm with production coming out of the Malyshev Factory of Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Externally, the T-84 maintains much of its original Soviet-inspired appearance. Soviet tanks are well-known for their low-profiles and the T-84 does not disappoint in this respect. The vehicle is set upon a wheeled track system that fields six rubber-tired road wheels to a vehicle side. The drive sprocket is at the rear with the track idler at the front. The hull sports a well-sloped glacis plate with the driver at his position at the front center of the hull. The turret is set at the middle of the hull roof within its bustle and the turret is hexagonal in basic shape when viewed from the top profile. The turret also sports well-sloped facings and a barrel installation that protrudes well-forward of the hull. There are two hatches along the turret roof, one for the commander to the right hand side and another to the left hand side. The commander has access to a heavy caliber machine gun at his cupola for anti-aircraft and anti -infantry defense while this weapon can target light armored vehicles. The main gun is complemented by a coaxial machine gun operated by the gunner. There is a standard operating crew of three - the driver, tank commander and gunner - for an autoloader (consistent with other modern Soviet/Russian tank developments) reduces the need for a dedicated loader personnel. Armor protection, including use of Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA), makes the T-84 one of the best protected tanks anywhere in the world. An integrated self-entrenching blade system - another Soviet tank design mainstay - is standard on the T-84 and allows the tank crew the ability to dig its own defilade.
The engine is held in a rear-set compartment and additional optional external fuel stores can be fitted to the rear hull roof for increased operational ranges. Primary power comes from a KMDB 6TD-2 series, 6-cylinder, multi-fuel, turbo-diesel engine developing 1,200 horsepower which is a major upgrade from the original Soviet T-80UD model. The engine is mated to a planetary transmission system sporting seven forward and one rearward gears of operation. Collectively, this provides the vehicle with a top speed of approximately 40 miles per hour with an operational range nearing some 340 miles. The vehicle exhibits one of the best power-to-weight ratios of its class which enables it to be considered one of the fastest main battle tank elements in service anywhere in the world. Fuel consumption is up to 25% less than as found on the original T-80UD which makes for a more efficient system. Suspension is via torsion bar with hydraulic dampeners for excellent cross-country performance. The vehicle weighs just over 50 Short Tons. The T-84 can also clear up to five meters of water as it includes standard fording equipment. A more powerful engine - the 6TD-3 diesel - is also available and provide upwards of 1,500 horsepower output.
Primary armament is in the form of a 125mm KBA03 smoothbore main gun, one of the largest main guns to be fitted to any modern-day main battle tank. There are between 40 and 42 x 125mm ready-to-fire projectiles (HE and AP warheads) in stowage. Consistent with Soviet tank design doctrine, the T-84's main gun features the interesting inherent ability to fire anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) - specifically the 9K119M "Reflex" (AT-11 "Sniper-B") which further increases the T-84's lethality on the modern battlefield - giving the crew the ability to fire against moving armored targets at range with a good level of accuracy and armor-defeating potential. The missiles are loaded and fired in the same fashion as the standard 125mm projectiles.