Bulgaria approves modernization of its fleet of T-72M1/M2 main battle tanks

According to information published by the newspaper website "The Sofia Globe" on February 16, 2022, the Bulgarian Government has approved a project to modernize its fleet of T-72 main battle tanks in service with the Bulgarian army.
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Bulgarian army T-72 Main Battle Tank at a military parade. (Picture source Bulgarian MoD)

According to the Military Balance 2021, the Bulgarian army has a total of 90 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) including T-72M1 and T-72M2. The T-72M1 is an export variant of the Soviet-made T-72A which is an improved version of the standard T-72.

The T-72M1 has an additional layer of 16 mm armor plate on the glacis plate and combination armor in the turret with pelletized filler agent. There are two ribs on the upper glacis plate.

The T-72M2 is a further development of the T-72M1 with new improvements including a new fire-control system with a ballistic computer, new intercom and radio set, modernized 125 mm smoothbore gun 2A46M2. The diesel engine has been upgraded and coupled to a modified transmission.

Citing information from "The Sofia Globe", the Bulgarian Ministry of defense plans to modernize 44 T-72 tanks. The modernization of the Bulgarian army T-72 MBT will include a new fire control system, new communication, and situational awareness. The improvements of the t-72 will also include the integration of HF/VHF radios with a built-in encryption module.

The modernized Bulgarian T-72M1/M2 will keep the original armament that includes one 125 mm (2A46) smoothbore gun fitted with a light-alloy thermal sleeve and a bore evacuator. The second armament of the T-72M1 includes one 7.62 mm caliber PKT machine gun mounted coaxially to the right of the main armament and has 250 rounds of ready use ammunition and a new design of 12.7 mm caliber NSV machine gun mounted on the commander's cupola.

The T-72M1 is powered by a V-12 piston V-46-6 multi-fuel air-cooled engine developing 780 hp. It can reach a maximum road speed of 60 km/h with a maximum cruising range of 480 km that can be extended to 550 km with the use of two additional fuel drums mounted at the rear of the chassis.