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M-84 (MBT)

Main Battle Tank

Yugoslavia | 1985

"The M-84 Main Battle Tank was a Yugoslavian local-production variant of the Soviet T-72 and was fielded in anger during the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 04/29/2023 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
In January of 1946, Yugoslavia accepted a communistic government aligned with the Soviet Union. This allowed for political and military relationships with the Soviet Empire and, thusly, Yugoslavia obtained a local-production license to manufacture the new T-72 Main Battle Tank of 1971 as the M-84 (slightly modified to suite Yugoslavian Army requirements). The original T-72 was developed as an economically-minded end-product to complement the more expensive T-64 for the Red Army as only premiere frontline Red Army units would be issued the limited-number T-64. The T-72 was subsequently offered for export and it was through this endeavor that the T-72 proved exceedingly popular with production numbers exceeding 25,000 worldwide (compared with the modest 13,000 presented by the T-64 which was never sold overseas). Locale production of the T-72 was also handled in Poland and Czechoslovakia.

Utilizing the T-72 as a starting point, design work on the localized Yugoslav M-84 spanned from 1979 to 1983. Initial prototypes were produced in 1982 and 1983. The tank made use of a locally-developed fire control system (FCS) and was given an uprated 1,000 horsepower diesel-fueled engine over that of the T-72's original 780 horsepower fitting. Armor protection was improved and incorporated broader use of composite alloys. The tank retained the capable 125mm smoothbore main gun as well as its autoloader, the latter reducing the operating crew from four (common to Western tanks) to three (commander, gunner and driver). Externally, the M-84 presented the same general overall appearance of the T-72 including its shallow profile (thanks in large part to the two-man turret and autoloading facility). Likewise, the running gear consisted of six double-tired, rubber-coated road wheels to a track side with the drive sprocket at rear and the track idler at front. Side skirt armor was fitted over the upper portions of the tank treads for basic protection. The M-84 hull sat atop a torsion bar suspension which allowed for excellent cross-country mobility. Range was out to 700 kilometers with a top road speed of 68 km/h.

The 125mm 2A46 smoothbore main gun was the same tank gun as fitted to the T-72 and the upcoming T-80 for the Russian Army. Onboard stowage allowed for 42 x 125mm projectiles to be carried, usually as a mix of various armor-defeating warhead types (HE-FRAG, HEAT-FS and APFSDS-T). Additionally, the gun could fire guided anti-tank missiles from the barrel, a Soviet/Russian tank design staple never wholly adopted in the West. Utilizing the automatic loading carousel, the projectiles and charges were loaded individually from two rungs, the ammunition type selected electronically by the gunner per the commander's order. Low-flying aerial threats were countered by a 12.7mm heavy machine gun at the commander's cupola (right side of turret roof). As standard, a 7.62mm machine gun was fitted in a coaxial position next to the main gun. 300 rounds of 12.7mm ammunition was carried as was 2,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition. Smoke grenade dischargers were retained along the front sides of the turret, five in a bank on the right and seven in a bank on the left.

After the requisite trials, the M-84 was officially adopted by the Yugoslavian Army and introduced in 1984 (hence its designation). Production would span from 1984 to 1991 to which some 652 examples were produced. Exportation of the M-84 occurred only to the Kuwaiti Army and fewer than 200 examples were delivered in all. By this time, the local political climate in Yugoslavia had changed considerably following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. As such, Yugoslavia entered a period of consistent upheaval which resulted in the various "Yugoslav Wars" of the 1990s. Born from the ashes of fighting were the nations of Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro and Slovenia. The various wars also curtailed much of the intended production concerning M-84 tanks.

The original Yugoslavian M-84 production mark proved to be the "M-84A". An Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV) version became the "M-84AI". The first major upgrade in the M-84 line was the "M-84AB" which introduced an upgraded fire control system, integrated laser rangefinder and various modernized optics. A related version, the M-84ABN, was unveiled with new navigational equipment. The command tank version of the M-84AB - outfitted with additional communications equipment - became the "M-84ABK".

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With the break-up of Yugoslavia, the now-independent states inherited existing stocks of existing M-84 tanks and eventually worked in modifying them to local army requirements. Serbia evolved their stock to produce the "M-84AS" designation which included a new fire control system, new armor scheme, Agava-2 thermal imaging device, 1,200 horsepower diesel-fueled engine, support for Russian "Kontakt-5" series Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) blocks. Additionally, the main gun now supported the newer Russian AT-11 "Sniper" anti-tank guided missile. As in modern Russian Army tanks, the Serbian M-84 adopted the "Shtora" anti-missile countermeasures system. The M-84AS was first debuted in 2004 and shares similarities in equipment and capabilities with the Russian Army's T-90S variant.

Croatia went in its own direction to produce the accurized M-84A4 "Sniper" mark. This version was given an improved fire control system, all-new optics and a new engine of 1,100 horsepower output. The M-84A4 mark was subsequently was adopted as the new Croatian Army standard MBT. More recently, the Croatian Army has been developing the "M-84D" as a new standard. ERA block armor is supported and a remote weapons station (RWS) has been added to the commander's cupola, allowing for the machine gun to be fired from within the safety of the vehicle. A new 1,200 horsepower diesel engine has been selected and the communications suite upgraded. The autoloader is further streamlined for and an increased rate-of-fire. Formal adoption of the M-84D mark is thought to have occurred sometime in 2011.

Croatia has been developing the M-95 "Degman" as the chosen successor to the M-84 with the project ongoing since the mid 1990s. The M-95 is a direct modernization of the M-84 system (therefore a descendant of the T-72) with an all-new composite/reactive armor protection scheme. However, the project has been limited to just two completed prototypes as of 2012 with the long-running intent being procurement of around 40 M-95 tanks for the Croatian Army.

The M-84 was readily available during the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s and managed a modest combat history in the conflict. Guerilla tactics proved popular against enemy tanks and this decimated M-84 stocks especially when armor lacked the supporting infantry to defend it. This also proved the case with the Soviet Army and its new T-80 MBTs in the First Chechen War, hundreds lost to rocket-propelled grenade attacks from all angles in the urban fighting environment.

The Kuwaiti Army had obtained the M-84 (M-84AB) prior to the Persian Gulf War of 1991. However, these stocks were largely restricted from frontline combat due to their T-72 resemblance. Kuwait eventually procured 149 M-84 tanks and several command tank (ABK) versions.

The Yugoslav Army operated approximately 450 M-84 tanks prior to the breakup of the country. From this, Bosnia and Herzegovina obtained sixteen M-84 tanks while the Croatians claimed some eighty-four units. Serbia manages a healthy stable of 212 M-84 tanks across four active battalions. Slovenia received 54 M-84 tanks after the breakup.

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April 2022 - The nation of Slovenia has promised to Ukraine some of its M84A4 "Sniper" MBT stock in support of the country's ongoing war with neighboring Russia. Slovenia is set to receive more modern MBTs from Germany in return. Slovenia has as many as fifty M84A4 tanks with fewer than twenty operational and the remainder in storage.

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one land system design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the M-84 (MBT) Main Battle Tank.
1 x V-46TK diesel engine developing 1,000 horsepower driving conventional track-and-wheel arrangement.
Installed Power
42 mph
68 kph
Road Speed
435 miles
700 km
The physical qualities of the M-84 (MBT) Main Battle Tank.
31.3 ft
9.53 meters
O/A Length
11.7 ft
3.57 meters
O/A Width
7.2 ft
2.19 meters
O/A Height
91,492 lb
41,500 kg | 45.7 tons
Armament & Ammunition
Available supported armament, ammunition, and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the M-84 (MBT) Main Battle Tank.
1 x 125mm 2A46 Smoothbore main gun in front turret face.
1 x 12.7mm Anti-Aircraft (AA) Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) on turret roof.
1 x 7.62mm co-axial anti-infantry machine gun in front turret face.
12 x Smoke Grenade Dischargers.
12 x Smoke Grenades.
Nightvision - YES.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Protection (CBRN) - YES.
Notable series variants as part of the M-84 (MBT) family line.
M-84 - Base Series Designation.
M-84AB - Modernized fire control system; laser rangefinder; revised communications suite.
M-84ABN - M-84AB with specialized navigation suite
M-84ABK - Command Tank version of the M-84AB
M-84A4 "Sniper" - Improved fire control system; German-originated diesel engine of 1,100 horsepower; upgraded communications equipment.
M-84AI ARV - Armored Recovery Vehicle.
M-84AS - Serbian Army Model; upgraded fire control system; revised armor protection scheme; ERA support.
M-84D - Croatian Army Standard; ERA support; all-new diesel engine of 1,200 horsepower output; remote-controlled machine gun at commander's cupola; Leopard 2 MBT type track system; missile warning detector.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the M-84 (MBT). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national land systems listing.

Total Production: 652 Units

Contractor(s): State Factories - Yugoslavia
National flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina National flag of Croatia National flag of Kuwait National flag of Serbia National flag of Slovenia National flag of Ukraine

[ Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; Kuwait; Serbia; Slovenia; Ukraine (announced, from Slovenia) ]
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Image of the M-84 (MBT)
Image from the United States Department of Defense DVIDS imagery database.
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Image of the M-84 (MBT)
Image from the United States Department of Defense DVIDS imagery database.
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Image of the M-84 (MBT)
Image from the United States Department of Defense DVIDS imagery database.
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Image of the M-84 (MBT)
Image courtesy of the Public Domain.
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Image of the M-84 (MBT)
Image courtesy of the United States Department of Defense.
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Image of the M-84 (MBT)
Image courtesy of the United States Department of Defense.

Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to battlefield requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The M-84 (MBT) Main Battle Tank appears in the following collections:
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