Bulgarian modernization of T-72 tanks and crew training being carried out
"The modernization of the T-72 tank has been very successful. Today, we witness excellent results achieved with the modernized tanks and the good training of their crews", Bulgarian Defense Minister Dimitar Stoyanov said on September 20 after the demonstration of the modernized T-72M1/M2 tank organized at the Novo Selo training ground.
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Bulgarian army T-72 Main Battle Tanks (Picture source: Bulgarian MoD)
Bulgarian Minister of Defense Stoyanov said: "I expect that we will receive the necessary communication and information equipment as soon as possible in order to conclude the contract for the modernization of the T-72 tank by the end of April 2023 and to think about the next stage in the modernization of the heavy combat equipment of the Ground Forces".
The commander of the Ground Forces, Major General Mikhail Popov, paid special attention to the process of training and preparation of the personnel who will use the modernized equipment.
The deputy commander of the Ground Forces, Brigadier General Nikolay Karaivanov, delivered a briefing on the activities carried out during the modernization of T-72 tanks, as well as on their new capabilities. Among them are the Battle Management System (BMS), the Radiation Early Warning System, 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 work was were carried out at the Terem Han Krum plant – Targovishte.
Among the new capabilities of the T-72M1/M2 obtained thanks to the modernization are improved combat effectiveness and increased effectiveness of the command system as well as of the protection level. The maintenance and basic repair of the modernized T-72s will be carried out by the Ground Forces, and the more important repair of units and devices will take place in better-equipped repair bases in the country. The modernization contributes to achieving interoperability with the other NATO armies.
A total of 44 T-72s will be modernized, of which 40 are for the Ground Forces and 4 for the Vasil Levski National Military University.
According to the Military Balance 2021, the Bulgarian army has a total of 90 T-72M1 and M2 Main Battle Tanks. 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, a new intercom and radio set, modernized 125 mm smoothbore gun 2A46M2. The diesel engine has been upgraded and coupled to a modified transmission.
The modernized Bulgarian T-72M1/M2 keeps the original armament that includes a 125 mm (2A46) smoothbore gun fitted with a light-alloy thermal sleeve and a bore evacuator. The second armament of the T-72M1 consists in a 7.62 mm caliber PKT machine gun mounted coaxially at the right of the main armament, with 250 rounds of ready-to-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.