Main Battle Tank Russia
The T-72A is the second generation of Soviet-made main battle tank MBT in the T-72 family. The first version of the T-72 entered production in 1970. It is a further development of the T-62 with some features of the T-64A (upgraded version of basic T-64) and has been further developed as the T-90. The T-72A was accepted for service with the Russian army in June 1979 and is a further development of the standard MBT T-72. The T-72 was the most common tank used by the Soviet Army from the 1970s to the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was also exported to other Warsaw Pact countries, as well as Finland, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yugoslavia, as well as being copied elsewhere, both with and without licenses.
- T-72: original version
- T-72AK: This is the commander's model of the T-72A with additional communications equipment and a total of two antennas.
- T-72M: Export "Monkey model" version, similar to T-72A but with thinner armour and downgraded weapon systems. Also built in Poland and former Czech Republic
- T-72M1: This is a modernised T-72M and has an additional layer of 16 mm armour plate on the glacis plate and combination armour in the turret with pelletised filler agent. There are two ribs on the upper glacis plate
- T-72M1M: modernization of the T-72M1 main battle tank is to enhance its basic characteristics, including firepower, protection, mobility, controllability and reliability, as well as to approach the sophistication level of the tank of the fourth generation.
- T-72AV: T-72A fitted with an explosive reactive armour array consisting of 227 boxes.
- T-72B: New main gun, stabilizer, sights, and fire control, capable of firing 9M119 Svir guided missile, Super Dolly Parton armour including 20 mm (0.8 in) of appliqué armour in the front of hull, improved 840-hp (626 kW) engine.
- T-72BK: Commander's model of the T-72B with additional communications equipment fitted and two antennas.
- T-72S: This is the export version of the T-72B and was initially referred to as the T-72M1M. The ERA package consists of 155 boxes, with the hull and turret being identical to those of the T-72M1. There is a different selection of ammunition options for the 125 mm gun and it can fire the AT-11 `Svir' laser-guided missile. This is also referred to as the T-72S `Shilden' rocket tank for the export market. The T-72S is now being manufactured under licence in Iran.
- T-72S1: Export version of the T-72B1 with 155 boxes of ERA, the hull and turret are identical to the T-72M1's. There is a different selection of ammunition options for the 125 mm gun.
- T-72BM: Improved T-72B with built-in second-generation explosive reactive armour that provides protection against APFSDS and HEAT attack. The explosive reactive armour fitted to the T-72M is the Kontakt-5. It is powered by an SV-84 diesel engine developing 840 hp.
- T-72B3: Uses 9M119M missile, new main gun and fire control (aiming of T-90), new ammo, improved 1,130 hp (840 kW) engine. Fitted with Relikt ERA (Rxplosive Reactive Armour).
- T-73B3M: also called T-72B4 is an upgraded version of the T-72B3 which is the latest modernized version of the Russian-made main battle tank T-72 family. New 2A46M5 125-mm smoothbore gun. Top center of the turret is fitetd with a panoramic sight.
Main armament of the T-72A consists of one 125 mm (2A46) smoothbore gun fitted with a light-alloy thermal sleeve and a bore evacuator. The thermal sleeve has four removable sections, two in front and two to the rear of the bore evacuator. The 125 mm gun is stabilized in both planes. The gun stabilization system is designated the 2Eh28M. The 125 mm gun fires three main types of separate loading ammunition, APFSDS with a maximum range of 2,100 m, HEAT-FS with a maximum direct fire range of 4,000 m and HE-FRAG(FS) with a maximum indirect fire range of 9,400 m. The T-72A is fitted with an automatic carousel loader is mounted on the turret floor and also on the rear wall of the turret. The projectile is loaded in the lower half of a carrier, the cartridge and propellant in the upper half. The carousel carries 24 ready use projectiles. When the 125 mm gun loads it must pick up the carrier and ram both the projectile and powder charge. This enables a rate of fire of 8 rds/min to be achieved but there are some doubts as to the reliability of the automatic loader. The main 125 mm armament is stabilized and enables the T-72A to shoot on the move with a high probability of a first-round hit. The T-72A carries a total of 39 rounds, 12 are APFSDS-T, 21 HE-FRAG(FS) and the remaining six HEAT-FS. The additional rounds of ammunition are stowed in racks behind the turret basket and in indentations in the rear floor fuel cell and second forward right cell near the driver. Second armament of the T-72A 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 12.7 mm NSV machine gun can, however, only be used with the commander exposing the upper part of his body. Maximum sight range in the ground role is 2,000 m; maximum sight range in the anti-aircraft role is 1,500 m. Two banks of smoke grenades discharger Type 902B 81 mm are mounted to each side at the front of the turret, with seven to the left and five to the right side.
Close view of the T-72A front turret, with th two banks of smoke grenade dischargers and the IR searchlight mounted to the right.
|Design and protection|
The overall layout of the T-72A is similar to all Soviet tank series with the driver's compartment at the front, the combat turret in the centre and engine and transmission at the rear. The T-72A has a crew of three with he driver is seated at the front, while the other two crew members are seated in the turret, with the gunner on the left and the commander on the right. The turret has conventional cast steel armour with a maximum thickness of 280 mm, the nose is about 80 mm thick and the glacis is of a new laminate armour 200 mm thick, which when inclined gives between 500 and 600 mm of protection. The T-72A had a significant increase in armour protection, especially over the frontal arc of the turret. Two light steel stowage boxes are mounted on the turret, one at the rear and the other on the right slightly behind the commander's position. At the rear of the turret, there is one cartridge ejection door.
Close view top turret of T-72A MBT with commander hatch at the right and gunner hatch to the left
|The T-72A is powered by a V-12 piston V-46-6 multi-fuel air-cooled engine which develops 780 hp. The engine will run on three fuels, with the driver being provided with a dial to set the engine for the type of fuel being carried. The torsion bar suspension each side consists of six road wheels with the idler at the front, drive sprocket at the rear and three return rollers supporting the inside of the track only. Shock-absorbers are fitted at the first, second and sixth road wheel stations. The track of the T-72 is of the single pin type with rubber bushes and this has been back-fitted to some older T-55 and T-62 MBTs. Total road wheel travel on the T-72A is 285 mm. There are four removable spring-loaded skirt plates fitted over the forward part of the track, which are unclipped in action and spring forward at an angle of 60º from the side of the vehicle, to give a measure of protection against HEAT projectiles. The T-72A 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.|
|Standard equipment of the T-72A includes night vision, NBC protection systems and heating. The T-72A is equipped with an TPD-K1 laser range-finder sight for improved first round hit probability, TPN-3-49 gunner's night sight, TPN-3 searchlight mounted on the right side of the 125 mm main armament. In the forward part of the commander cupola is a combined TKN-3 day/night sight with an OU-3 infra-red searchlight mounted over the top and, to either side of the combined day/night sight, is another TNP-160 day periscope. In front of the gunner's hatch is a TNP-160 day periscope, while a TNPA-65 day vision block is fitted in the hatch cover itself. In front and to the left of the gunner's hatch is a panoramic day/night sight which is used in conjunction with the infra-red searchlight mounted to the left and in front of the sight. A dozer blade mounted under the nose of the tank is used for clearing obstacles and preparing fire positions and, like most other Russian tanks, the T-72A can be fitted with mine clearing equipment such as the KMT-5, KMT-6 and KMT-6 M2. The dozer blade can be brought into the operating position in 1 or 2 minutes and enables the T-72A tank to prepare its own defilade position without calling on engineer support. The T-72A can be fitted with a snorkel for deep fording, mounted on the rear side of the turret. The T-72A series takes about 20 minutes to prepare for amphibious use and is ready for action within 2 minutes of leaving the water. With the snorkel, the T-72A can cross a river up to 5 m deep.|
|One 125 mm 2A46 smoothbore gun, one 7.62 mm PKT machine gun, one 12.7 mm NSVT machine gun, 12 smoke-grenades discharger||500 - 600 mm armour maximum|
|Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaidjan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Georgia, Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Macedonia, Morocco, Poland, Russia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Syria, Tajikstan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Croatia, Serbia.||46,500 kg|
|Russia||60 km/h on road|
|NBC protection system, night vision ssytem, laser range finder, snorkel with fording kit||- 480 km |
- 550 km with additionnal fuel drums
|3||Lenght: 9.54 m; Width: 3.59 m; Height: 2.23 m|
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Pictures - Video