T-84 Oplot ('Bulwark') MBT
The Ukrainian tank "Oplot" (modernization of the Soviet tanks T-80 and T-84, produced at the Kharkov Plant of Transport Engineering named after Malyshev) never became the main tank of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. With fairly good characteristics, it was not possible to establish its mass production. Even the export order from Thailand was thwarted: only 15 tanks were delivered (according to some estimates, 20). The rest of the order in the amount of 120 combat vehicles went to China. And in the Ukrainian army itself there were only 10 Oplots, including prototypes, which continue to be tested at the plant.
The T-84 main battle tank is the result of continued main battle tank development by the Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau, which is Ukraine's leading design authority for armored fighting vehicles. The T-84 differed from the T-80 by the following: new all-welded turret, explosive reactive armor of new generation, thermal imaging sight, digitisation of the fire-control system, 1200 hp engine, auxiliary power unit, optronic countermeasures system, automatic muzzle reference system, navigation aids etc.
The overall layout of the T-84 is conventional with the driver's compartment at the front, fighting compartment in the centre and power pack at the rear. The driver is seated in the center and has a single-piece hatch cover that lifts and swings to the right. In front of this are three forward-facing periscopes, the center one of which can be replaced by a night driving device. There is an escape hatch in the hull floor behind the driver. The commander is seated on the right and the gunner on the left both provided with single-piece roof hatches.
The T-84 is based on a T-80UD, but has a number of advanced features which distinguish it from the T-80UD. These include the following:
- new all-welded turret;
- explosive reactive armour of new generation to give more protection against both chemical energy and kinetic energy attack over the frontal arc;
- thermal imaging sight;
- 1,200 hp engine rather than a 1,000 hp engine the T-80UD is powered by;
- digitisation of the electronics packages associated with the fire-control system;
- optronic countermeasures system;
- auxiliary power unit;
- muzzle reference system;
- navigation system;
- enlarged side skirts to give additional protection of the hull sides and running gear components against attacks by infantry armed with short range anti-tank missiles.
The latest version of the T-84 offered for the export market also features an automated gear shifting rather than a mechanical gear selector, new driver's steering controls (the driver now steers the vehicle with a steering T-bar rather than tillers, thus reducing the load on the driver), an air conditioning system, projectile muzzle velocity sensor, and other improvements.
The T-84 uses locally produced components and subsystems, although systems of foreign origin can be incorporated at the customer's request. The T-84 MBT is a very efficient fighting machine intended to fulfil the mission of providing mobile protected firepower in all types of terrain. The T-84 is very well protected, has good battlefield mobility as well as good strategic mobility, and is able to undertake a wide range of battlefield missions on a 24 hour basis under all weather conditions. The main armament comprises a stabilized 125-mm KBA3 smoothbore gun fed by a carousel-type automatic loader and fitted with a thermal sleeve and fume extractor (bore evacuator). The gun is stabilized in both elevation and traverse. The main gun has a quick-replacement barrel which can be changed under field conditions without the need to remove the gun from the tank. The automatic loader, which is built into an autonomous armoured module, is sitting in the fore body section of the tank. The specific feature of the tank is that it is fitted with a guided missile system [indigenously-designed KOMBAT] to enable the main gun to fire a laser guided missile and engage targets out to 5,000 m. The missiles are stowed in the automatic loader in the same way as conventional ammunition.
The T-84 is outfitted with an integrated vehicle protection system, which includes passive armor, explosive reactive armor array as well as a number of other tank protection devices that are optimized against modern anti-tank weapons and make the tank considerably less vulnerable to the full range of anti-tank weapons. The armor protection of the T-84, which includes advanced multi-layer armor and indigenously-designed built-in third-generation explosive reactive armor package for the turret and chassis, provides to the T-84 a high level of battlefield survivability. The main armor is a laminated ‘sandwich’ of armored plate and ceramics which gives the tank superior ballistic protection against most forms of attack, greatly reducing penetration and behind armor effect.
The hull and turret of the T-84 over the forward arc are fitted with the latest generation NOZH (‘knife’) explosive reactive armor package which gives protection against both chemical energy and kinetic energy attack (APFSDS and HEAT-type projectiles). In addition to being fitted to the hull and turret, explosive reactive armor panels are also fitted to either side of the hull front to provide lateral protection to each side of the driver’s compartment. The explosive reactive armor system is of a modular design so that it can be easily replaced or upgraded allowing new explosive reactive armor developments to be incorporated in the future when this becomes available. The main armor and the explosive reactive armor together ensure superior protection against sophisticated modern anti-armor weapons.
The overall survivability of the T-84 is further enhanced by an optronic countermeasures system which is designated VARTA (which means Guards). The VARTA system consists of three key subsystems: the laser threat warner (to give warning of impending attack by laser-guided weapons), the infra-red jammers and the smoke/aerosol screen laying system. The overpressure-type NBC protection system protects the crew and inner equipment of the tank against the nuclear weapon effects, radioactive dust, toxic agents and bacteriological materials. The radiation shielding is designed in the form of a liner fixed on both internal and external surfaces of the tank to give protection against radiation from nuclear explosions.
In the overall vehicle design, the designers have laid great emphasis on the urgent need to reduce the signatures (thermal, radar, acoustic etc) of the tank. In particular, the T-84 MBT power pack compartment features thermal signature reduction technology, as its top deck is fitted with special heat insulation devices, this resulting in a low thermal signature of the tank. To defeat detection by battlefield radar, anti-radar coating is provided and the tank turret is fitted with a collar of rubber skirts which hang from the turret front and reduce the radar signature of the T-84. For reduced observability, provision is also made for fitting the vehicle with the indigenously designed camouflage system KONTRAST.
The T-84 is powered by a model 6TD-2 diesel engine developing 1,200 hp. The engine has been designed to give good performance in all weather conditions, in particular at high temperatures. Although a diesel engine, the 6TD-2 diesel will also run on other fuels including petrol, kerosene, jet engine fuel or their mixture in any proportion. The capacity of the internal fuel tanks is 700 liters with an additional 440 liters being stowed in the fuel tanks above the tracks. This gives the T-84 a fuel distance of 400 km. To extend the operational range of the T-84, additional drum-type fuel tanks can be mounted at the hull rear. These can be quickly jettisoned if necessary. Each of these fuel drums holds 200 liters of fuel and is connected to the main fuel supply. The air inlet of the engine allows air to be ducted from the least dusty quarter and enables water obstacles to be crossed to a water depth of 1.8 m without preparation.
The T-84 was developed under the leadership of Mykhailo D. Borysiuk on the basis of the T-80UD MBT. The first T-84 prototype vehicle rolled out in 1994, and then several more prototype vehicles were produced. They were subjected to extensive company and army trials. After successful completion of an extensive trials program in mid-1990, the T-84 entered service with the Ukrainian Army in 1999.
The T-84 was offered for export and took part in comparative evaluation trials in Greece in 1998, in Turkey in 2000 and in Malaysia in 2000 to meet these countries' requirement for a new main battle tank. In Turkey, a special version of the T-84 fitted with a NATO 120 mm smoothbore gun fed by a bustle-mounted automatic loader was demonstrated.
The T-84 MBT is now in service with Ukraine (in 2000 the Ukrainian Defence Ministry ordered 10 new T-84 series main battle tanks) and Pakistan (the final delivery T-80UD tanks supplied to Pakistan in 1999 incorporated many features of the T-84 including a new all-welded turret and other improvements to give them enhanced T-84 configuration).
Addressing a meeting of servicemen and officials on the airfield near Kharkiv 06 December 2014, President Petro Poroshenko said the armor contracts with tank-building plants will be doubled in 2015, . The focus is on a new armored personnel vehicle which was modernized following its operation in Donbas, the president said. Production of new Oplot tanks will also be increased, he said.
Ukrainian Secretary of the National Security Council Alexander Turchynov said 12 June 2015 that that Ukrainian defense's top priority is to supply Ukrainian army with modern weaponry and military equipment. Turchynov said that next year Ukraine would focus on the quality of military equipment, particularly in the supply of new ‘Oplot’ tanks to the armed forces. "From the new year in the state defense order, we are planning major changes in the quality of technology. We are ready to supply the tanks. It is one of the most modern tanks, it is considered to be one of the best in the world," media reported Turchynov as saying.
Ukraine also resumed delivery to Thailand the new generation of ‘Oplot’ tanks which was suspended in 2014 due to domestic political turmoil.
Thailand's Ministry of Defense decided in January 2017 to terminate its contract with Ukraine for the purchase of several dozen T-84 Oplot main battle tanks, citing Kiev's inability to deliver them on time, according to Thai media reports. In 2011, Thailand signed a $241 million contract with the Kharkiv-based Malyshev Factory on the delivery of 49 T-84 'Oplot' ('Stronghold') MBTs. The tanks were meant to become the backbone of Thailand's tank forces, replacing the army's 1957-vintage US-made M-41s, which were set to be decommissioned.
However, after being plagued by never-ending problems with the delivery of the Ukrainian tanks, the Thai Defense Ministry has apparently decided to cancel the contract. Speaking to Thai media, Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan confirmed that the contract with Ukraine had become a key problem in efforts to modernize Thailand's army, and that it was the result of Ukraine's present internal situation.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|