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Much of the KPz the Russian Armed Forces today still in use was introduced in the 70s and is still in use. Therefore, it was correctly decided now a comprehensive and extensive combat enhancement program for all present in the use of MBT. This should these vehicles up to an additional 15 years can remain in use.

KPz T-72 B3 (Obj. 184-3)

The MBT T-72 is the oldest model among the three to be considered vehicles. In flowering periods up to 9,000 copies in different versions with the Soviet or Russian armed forces should be introduced. It can be assumed that there are currently still about 1,900 vehicles of this type are in use. For this vehicle a larger KWS program to version T-72 B3 (model 2013) was decided in the year of 2010. For cost reasons, the Umrüstrate is relatively small - perhaps about 400 vehicles have been converted to date.

T 72, T 80, T90 und T14 - Modernisierung russischer Kampfpanzer
MBT T-72 B3M (Photo:

About three years after the start of the KWS program, the financial situation had apparently eased somewhat, so in 2016 a revised version called T-72 B3M (Model 2016), and T-72 B4 was released; the first vehicles were delivered in the year 2018th This model has now received a further improved weapon and improvements in on-board electronics. Even the commander should have a powerful Rundblickperiskop. Due to lack of space, however, this device could not be integrated in front of the commander's hatch in the rotating part. Therefore, a large viewing head for a Rundblickperiskop on the tower roof was in this version - between the Kommandanten- and the gunner hatch.

With regard to the mobility of the uprated motor W 92 S2F has now been incorporated in this version. Likewise, the more powerful reactive armor RELIC was used partially. According to Russian data, this reactive armor to the penetrating power of a hollow charge spine by about 600 mm (RHA) Remove.

In particular, the version of T-72 B3M / B 4 thus has a significant increase combat effectiveness. According to reports, the KWS program is at the end include several thousand vehicles.

T 72, T 80, T90 und T14 - Modernisierung russischer Kampfpanzer
Gunner KPz place in T-72 B3; The figure illustrates the problems in keeping the number of new assemblies. The operation of the new elements should be possible only under postures in part. (Photo: archive author)

KPz T-80 BWM (Obj. 219 RWM)

The reactivation of MBT-type T-80 B and the initiation of a program to modernize this model have surprised many Western observers. Because the MBT T-80 B / T-80 U were taken due to the high operating costs gradually out of use.

In 2016 the surprising announcement came that you get a certain portion of the 3,500 stored MBT T-80 B from the depots, and would undergo a comprehensive KWS program. Already in 2017 the first vehicles of this known as T-80 BWM version were presented in Leningrad.

T 72, T 80, T90 und T14 - Modernisierung russischer Kampfpanzer
MBT T-80 BWM - tower and chassis have been equipped with elements of modern reactive armor type RELIC. (Photo: Vitaly Kuzmin)

In T-80 BWM the previous 125-mm smoothbore gun 2 A46M 4 to have been retained. Like the T-72 B3, including this car gets a new fire control system with tracking function and digital computer. Even the gunner also received the new target device. Also appropriate changes were made to can fire modern KE ammunition with the longer penetrators on the articulated loader.

T 72, T 80, T90 und T14 - Modernisierung russischer Kampfpanzer

The MBT T-80 B was at a maximum speed of 80 km / h in the past, the best motorized Russian MBT. This was caused by the installation of a gas turbine with an exceptionally high by Russian standards engine performance. The downside of this was expected, a higher than average fuel consumption - especially as the gas turbine does not have a heat exchanger disposal. Here to have been now the consumption significantly reduced by using a modern digital control for the gas turbine. In addition, arrangements have been made to - up to temperatures of minus 50 degrees - to facilitate a smooth start of the gas turbine. Therefore, the version is also primarily, including the space Murmansk, Siberia and Far East regions (room Amur), are stationed in cold / arctic regions T-80 BWM.

T-90 M (Obj. 188 M)

The T-90, of the three discussed here models the KPz with the lowest usage time; it was introduced in 1993 and thus has a service life of up to 26 years. Because of the relatively high production costs about 350 to 400 MBT T-90 produced for the Russian armed forces since the early 90s and only. In principle, the T-90 is derived in many areas on the MBT T-72.

T 72, T 80, T90 und T14 - Modernisierung russischer Kampfpanzer
MBT T-90 M with the new weapon station on Rundblickperiskop the commander. (Photo: Vitaly Kuzmin)

The new version of T-90 M Prorvy-3 (Breakthrough 3) should also get the modern 125-mm smoothbore gun 2 A46M-5, which allows a much higher gas pressure. From MBT T-14, the modern fire control was taken with digital computers and tracking function. For the T-90 M apparently a new remote control weapon station was developed, which was combined with the viewing head of the commander-Rundblickperiskops. A similar solution is from T-14 KPz been known to improve the mobility of the previously used engine was 92 W S2 replaced by the more powerful model W 92 S2F. The protection has been improved through the use of modern reactive armor type RELIC. At various points in the tower area a power armor to improve protection against anti-tank hand weapons has been installed. In addition, a lattice spacing armor is for the same reason in the side and rear of the chassis used.


The modernization of the three main Russian battle tank the performance firepower and protection have been greatly improved on the one hand in recent years, above all. With the introduction of the target device SOSNA-U with a powerful French thermal imaging device, the existing decades residue was caught up in the night fighting capability. More specifically, the MBT T-72 B3 / B4 and T-90M were with the new 125-mm smoothbore gun 2 A46M-5 and modern fire control KALINA be raised with respect to the fire power approximately at the level of the KPz T-14 ARMATA.

On the other hand, the Russian government could not implement the full-bodied announced in 2015 retreading of ground forces by introducing a variety of new combat vehicles. Instead, a complete modernization program for the imported KPz models was initiated. but overall, the opportunity has been missed once again to use this turning point in the facilities planning in a consistent manner to simplify the logistics and for standardization. 15 years three main battle tank types are supplied with different components in the logistically critical areas of drive and drive - in the coming 10 have.

(This is an excerpt of an article that appears in the September issue of ES & T)

Rolf Hilmes