First T-64BM2 Bulat MBTs parade on Ukrainian Independence Day

During the parade to celebrate the 30th Independence Day of Ukraine (24 August), the first four T-64BM2 main battle tanks belonging to the 92nd Mechanized Brigade were presented, Defence 24 reports. According to the representatives of the Kharkiv Tank Works, the entire company of T-64 tanks is currently being modernized to a new standard, which will be used for operational tests. The tanks received a new communication and positioning system, a thermal imaging sight and a 1,000hp engine.
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Ukraine’s Independence Day parade 2021 saw the first four upgraded T-64BM2 tanks of the 92nd Mechanized Brigade parade in Kharkiv (Picture source:

After the dissolution of the USSR, Ukraine carried on the development of T-64 modernization, as the original and main factory was in this country. Two different upgrade packages were developed in 1999:
* T-64BM, with a 57DFM 850-hp (625 kW) engine, a new 1A43U fire control, a new 6ETs43 loader and the possibility to fire the 9M119 missile (NATO code "AT-11 Sniper").
* T-64U which integrated on top the 1A45 fire control (from the T-80U and T-84), PNK-4SU and TKN-4S optics for the tank commander and PZU-7 for the AA machine gun. The tank leader is then able to drive the tank and to use the gun directly if needed. Kontakt-5 Armor added few prototypes build.
The two variants are also protected by Kontakt-5 modular reactive armor, able to resist to kinetic energy projectiles, as opposed to the first models which were efficient only against HEAT shaped-charge ammunition. Those two variants could also be re-motorised with the 6TDF 1,000 hp (735 kW) engine.

T-64BM Bulat incorporates a Nizh (Knife) reactive armor that offers better performance dealing with tandem warheads than the Soviet Kontakt-5, a new Ukrainian-made 125mm KBA3 gun, a TO1-KO1ER night sight and capability of firing the Ukrainian Kombat [uk; ru] tandem-warhead anti-tank guided missile.

In 2010, the Kharkiv Malyshev Factory upgraded ten T-64B tanks (originally produced in Kharkiv in 1980) to T-64BM Bulat standard, and a further nineteen were delivered in 2011. These twenty-nine tanks are being upgraded under a $25.1Mn contract signed in April 2009. According to Malyshev Factory chief engineer Konstantin Isyak, the T-64BM Bulat is armoured to the level of modern tanks. It has Nizh (Knife) reactive armour, and Varta active protection system. The Bulat weighs 45 tonnes (44 long tons), and with its 850 hp (630 kW) 5TDFM multi-fuel diesel engine can travel at 70 km/h (43 mph), with a range of 385 km (239 mi). It retains the 125 mm smoothbore gun with an autoloader for 28 rounds, some of which can be guided missiles. It has a 12.7 mm AA machinegun, and a 7.62 mm coaxial machinegun. A 2019 refurbishing program upgraded the fire-control system to model 1A43U and uprated the engine.

And now, the T-64BM2

As recalled by Defence 24, the prototype of the T-64BM2 vehicle was created in a record time of six months in cooperation with companies belonging to the Ukroboronprom concern, mainly from Kharkiv. As emphasized by the representatives of the Kharkov Tank Works, the biggest challenge was the reconstruction of the rear part of the vehicle to replace the 850hp 5TDFM engine and its transmission with a more powerful 1,000hp 6TD-1 power unit. This significantly increases the driving dynamics, but also increases the unification of power units with the T-64BW Krab tanks, which will receive the same engine, and the Opłot-M2, which uses the power unit of the 6TD family with a capacity of 1,200hp. Ultimately, it is planned to use the 6TD engine on all variants of the T-64 tanks operated by the Ukrainian army.

Equally important, but less demanding, was the modernization of the fire control system, and above all the installation of the 1G46 sight, thanks to which the machine gained a thermal imaging option that allows for much more effective operation at night. At the same time, the T-64BM2 tank can use Kombat guided missiles fired from a 125 mm cannon. The vehicle also received modern Ukrainian communication, navigation and positioning systems, which significantly improves the possibilities of securing data exchange and managing the battlefield.

As emphasized by representatives of the armed forces of Ukraine and the Ukroboronprom group, the four vehicles presented during the parade on August 24, 2021 are part of a full company that is to be put into service soon. Thanks to this, the operation of all systems will be checked in the field, and the results of these tests will be related to the state tests that are currently underway. Works related to the modernization to the T-64BM2 standard will also be used in the Krab program, which aims to develop a basic vehicle based on the T-64BW.