In 1985, the nation of Yugoslavia introduced an indigenous development of the famous Soviet-era T-72 Main Battle Tank as the "M-84". Production totaled 652 units though this was curtailed by the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. The endeavor, however, provided local heavy industry and related components companies with experience in the design, development and modification of a complete combat tank system. Following the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia, which created the modern nation of Croatia, the Duro Dakovic production facility - tied to the manufacture of the original M-84 - began work on a new modernized version of the M-84 as the "M-95 Degman".
Compared to the M-84, the newer M-95 was given improved armor protection through a composite/laminate hull armor blend as well as support for Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) blocks (Israeli Elbit RRAK) across all critical hull and turret facings. The internal ammunition stores residing within the turret were now more separated from the crew, improving survivability. A new thermal imaging system promised improved night combat while the communications suite, Fire Control System (FCS) and track link components all received due attention. A Remote Weapons Station (RWS) was installed on the turret roof for a better battlefield presence and engineers elected for a more powerful 12-cylinder diesel-fueled engine outputting at 1,200 horsepower. Like the Soviet T-72 and subsequent Soviet/Russian tanks, the M-95 featured an autoloader to reduce the operating crew to three men.
With the changes in place, pilot vehicles were ordered - one to represent the operational-quality Croatian Army M-95 and the other to represent a possible export mark (as the "M-84D"). Kuwait emerged as the first foreign party interested in the D-model for they already fielded a considerable fleet of Yugoslavian M-84 tanks in their inventory. The two prototypes were eventually realized but the results of the civil war and funding issues have since brought the M-95 project to a halt - just four are believed to be in Croatian Army hands as of June 2014. As such, the M-95 is not in formal service with any army today (2014) with its long-term prospects quite dim in the face of shrinking defense budgets worldwide.
The Croatian Army maintains plans to upgrade their fleet of existing M-84A4 tanks to the M-84D Degman standard - this to be completed by 2015. The M-84D is closely associated with the preceding M-84A4 production model which evolved through the Yugoslavian M-90 "Vihor" project that resulted in two pilot vehicles for evaluation. The breakup of the country allowed the pilot vehicles to fall under Croatian control and influence tank development in the new country from thereon.
Croatia currently maintains about 78 M-84A4 tanks while Kuwait obtained 149 M-84AB tanks. Both have plans to upgrade their stocks to the M-84D standard.
As completed, the M-95 is outfitted with the 125mm 2A46M5 smoothbore main gun common to Soviet/Russian tanks. Its diesel engine is mated to a twin-transmission system arrangement. The chassis utilizes an independent torsion bar system featuring six road wheels to a hull side as well as three track return rollers. Operational range is listed at 430 miles with a maximum road speed of 45 miles per hour.