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Soviet-era T-80 tanks to make a comeback in Russian arsenal



According to Russian sources on September 10, 2023, Oleksandr Potapov, the General Director of the Russian company "Uralvagonzavod," recently announced his company's plan to restart the production of T-80 series tanks, essentially starting from scratch, as the Russian Ministry of Defense has deemed this a significant task.
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Soviet-era T-80 tanks, like this T-80U, will make a comeback in Russia's arsenal (Picture source: Yandex)


The choice to restart the T-80 tank production seems to have been motivated by the tank's performance in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, where T-80 tanks showcased some capabilities, offering valuable insights into their potential usefulness for the Russian Armed Forces. However, this decision may also be seen as an attempt to address a less favorable reality. According to Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) sources, Russia incurred impressive losses in Ukraine, with 2,309 confirmed tanks lost, including 624 T-80s.

Achieving the goal of reviving T-80 tank production necessitates a collaboration between "Uralvagonzavod" and the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade. This collaboration aims to address urgent requirements, including for new equipment and expanding production capabilities. At the center of this effort lies the Omsktransmash Armored Plant, a facility with a history of tank manufacturing during the Soviet era. Since the dissolution of the USSR in the early 1990s, the plant has primarily focused on servicing and repairing tanks. On September 11, 2023, the Army Recognition editorial team reported that this same plant unveiled the T-80BVM Model 2023, an upgraded version of the T-80BVM main battle tank, influenced by combat experience gained during the war in Ukraine.

Reports from Russian social media sources suggest that Omsktransmash is preparing to produce 152 T-80BVM Model 2023 tanks, with 15 of them already loaded onto transport platforms, indicating potential deployment to active combat zones.

The upcoming generation of T-80 tanks is expected to undergo significant changes compared to their predecessors. Numerous critical components and technologies are set for updates and enhancements. For instance, alternative manufacturing methods, such as welding from pre-made armor plates, may be considered for specific components due to limitations in domestic capabilities.

While production restarts, it's important to note that the Russian military has actively engaged in modernizing and refurbishing existing T-80 tanks. These upgrades include the integration of advanced components, such as Sosna-U tank sights, GTD-1250 gas turbine engines, 2A46M tank guns, and other enhancements designed to improve the tanks' performance and extend their operational lifespan.

However, this undertaking presents significant challenges. Tank production requires specialized expertise and state-of-the-art machinery. Russia faces obstacles related to personnel, educational institutions, and machine-tool construction, making this a complex endeavor.

The T-80 is a Russian main battle tank that evolved from the T-64 main battle tank and was the first Russian-made tank to feature a gas turbine engine. It was introduced into service in 1976. The T-80 is distinct from the Soviet T-72, despite their visual similarities. The T-80 includes several variants, such as the T-80BV, T-80BVM, and T-80U, each with its own unique features and capabilities.

The T-80 is equipped with a 125 mm 2A46 smoothbore gun, similar to the T-72, with a horizontal ammunition stowage system. It also features a 7.62mm PKT coaxial machine gun and a 12.7mm Utes (NSVT-12.7) air defense machine gun. Additionally, it is outfitted with electrically operated smoke grenade dischargers.

The T-80's layout resembles that of the T-64 and includes armor enhancements, such as special armor on the turret and a laminate-type glacis plate designed to enhance protection against kinetic energy and HEAT attacks. The T-80 is powered by a gas turbine engine producing 1,000 horsepower, enabling a maximum road speed of 70 km/h. Some later variants reverted to diesel engines. It features a unique gearbox with 5 forward and 1 reverse gear.

Standard equipment includes snorkels for deep fording operations, an overpressure-type NBC protection system, night vision equipment for all crew members, and a laser warning device. The tank can also carry additional fuel drums for extended range.

The T-80 has been adopted by several countries, including Belarus, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Ukraine, and Yemen. Over the years, it has undergone various upgrades and improvements to maintain its effectiveness on the battlefield.


 

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