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T-80: The First and Last Gas Turbine Tank of Russia

Command tanks with additional radio equipment have K added to their designation for komandirskiy ("command"), for example, T-80BK is the command version of the T-80B. Versions with reactive armour have V added, for vzryvnoy ("explosive"), for example T-80BV. Less-expensive versions without missile capability have a figure 1 added, as T-80B1.[citation needed]

The prototype designed by Nikolay Popov was constructed in 1969 by Leningrad Kirov Plant (LKZ) and designated Object 219 SP1.[1] It was essentially the T-64T powered by a GTD-1000T multi-fuel gas turbine engine producing up to 1,000 hp (746 kW). During the trials it became clear that the increased weight and dynamic characteristics required a complete redesign of the vehicle's suspension.

t 80


The second prototype, designated Object 219 SP2, received bigger drive sprockets and return rollers. The number of road wheels was increased from five to six. The construction of the turret was altered to use the same compartment, 125 mm 2A46 tank gun, autoloader and placement of ammunition as the T-64A. Some additional equipment was borrowed from the T-64A. The LKZ plant built a series of prototypes based on Object 219 SP2. In 1976 it became the T-80.

First production model. The T-80 has some features of both the T-64 and T-72, and other features unique to itself. In general, the offensive capabilities of the T-80 are similar to the T-64A, but it is faster thanks to the GTD-1000T 1,000 hp (746 kW) multi-fuel gas turbine engine. Visual keys are large, die-cast, irregularly spaced, ribbed, rubber-tired road wheels with three support rollers,[2] a self-entrenching blade on the lower glacis, a Luna searchlight in the same position as the T-64. Significant differences are a coincidence rangefinder, and probable enhanced armor on the glacis (an upper glacis of steel layers enclosing fiberglass layers and a cast steel turret enclosing nonmetallic materials).[2] Unlike the later models, the early T-80 had V-shaped splash plate on glacis plate. Due to its armour being obsolete, only a few hundred were built between 1976 and 1978 before the production switched to the T-80B. Some T-80s were later upgraded to B level.[3][4][5][6]

This first major redesign features a modified turret with new composite K ceramic armor providing better protection against APFSDS kinetic energy penetrators at the front of the hull and turret. The protection level of the turret increased from 410 mm of steel to 500 mm of steel. It also includes 1A33 fire control system, 9K112-2 system which allows firing 9M112 "Kobra" (NATO code: AT-8 Songster) ATGM using the tank's barrel. The missile control box is mounted in front of the cupola and has angled support.[3] The ATGM may be launched while moving slowly and can be auto-loaded with the two-halves mated during ramming but the stub charge is manually loaded.[2] Unlike T-80, T-80B does not have a splash plate on glacis plate.[4][6][7] Retained gun 2A46-2 from basic T-80.

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T-80B with Kontakt-1 explosive reactive armour. The smoke grenade launchers were moved from either side of the main armament back to the either side of the turret and positioned between the turret side and the ERA panels. On the turret of the T-80BV, the panels are joined to form a shallow chevron shape. ERA is also fitted to the forward part of the turret roof to provide protection against attacks from above. While the ERA provides a high degree of protection against ATGM of its time which relied on a HEAT warhead to penetrate armor over the frontal arc, it does not provide any added protection against APDS or APFSDS. Vehicles which were built first for sometime lacked the ERA because of supply problems. Some T-80BV tanks have been equipped with dust flap under glacis plate and some of them were equipped with single line of ERA along top of hull side. A late production version had a new turret similar to the T-80U but with Kontakt-1 ERA.[3][4][6] There is a new gun 2A46M-1 with 9K112 Kobra system capable of firing improved 9M112M Kobra ATGM through gun barrel.

( "U" for uluchsheniye, meaning "improvement") A further development of T-80A. It was produced as a new vehicle, nothing to do with old tanks from storage. This version has a new 1,100 hp (820 kW) GTD-1000F multi-fuel gas turbine engine and new turret with improved composite armor. T-80U also received a different engine decking. Additional protection is provided by Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armour and Shtora-1 APS. There is the same gun 2A46M-1 as on T-80BV but with a new 9K120 Svir system which allows firing 9M119 Svir (AT-11 Sniper) and 9M119 Refleks (AT-11B Sniper) ATGMm through the gun barrel.[2] Also the 12.7 mm NSVT heavy machine gun received the ability to be fired from within the turret with a use of a remote-control which work in a similar manner to the one in T-64. New fire control system 1A45 Irtysh with 1V528-1 Ballistic Computer. Buran-PA night sight for gunner. PNK-4S (Agat) day/night sight for commander. Infra-red searchlight "Luna" mounted on the commander's cupola. Like all of the previous T-80 models, the T-80U has full length rubber side skirts protecting the sides but those above the first three road wheels are armored and are provided with lifting handles. There are also rubber elements fitted beneath the front glacis which provide additional protection against mines with tilt-rod fuses and HEAT warheads. The forward skirt elements are armored and a radiation absorption liner coat is mounted on the inside and on the outside of armour. The turret roof between the commander's and gunner's hatches has been provided with additional protection against attack from above. Driver's protection, particularly against mine explosions, is enhanced by suspending the driver's seat from the hull roof. Two clusters of four 81 mm 902B Tucha electrically operated smoke dischargers are mounted on either side of the turret. Early production version of T-80U still used Kontakt-1 ERA. A special camouflage paint distorts the tank's appearance in the visible and IR wavebands. GTA-18A Auxiliary Power Unit is used when the engine is off. Late production version had a more powerful GTD-1250D multi-fuel gas turbine engine and the "Brod-M" snorkel.[2][4][6][7]

By the end of 2021 up to 300[10] units produced by overhauling and upgrading old T-80B tanks from storages. The idea was to make it compatible with T-90M tanks (same gun, ammunition, ATGM, ERA etc) cause of supply lines. New "Relikt" ERA on turret and hull (front and sides), increased protection against land mines. Older tracks were replaced with the new universal, twin-pin design. New 2A46M-5 125mm gun with new anti-tank ammunition Svinets-1 (tungsten) and Svinets-2 (depleted uranium). 9K119M Refleks-M system is used to launch 9M119M Invar (also called Refleks-M) ATGM through gun barrel. 1A45T improved "Irtysh" fire control system (from T-90A) with new Sosna-U gunner`s sight. New panoramic sight for the commander. New radio communication. Upgraded gas turbine engine.[11][12][13] Retained old turret, manual transmission, no APS, no GLONASS navigation. Optional "hard kill" APS Arena-M. Currently being delivered.[14]

The T-80 is a main battle tank (MBT)[11] that was designed and manufactured in the former Soviet Union and manufactured in Russia. The T-80 is based on the T-64, while incorporating features from the later T-72. The chief designer of the T-80 was Soviet engineer Nikolay Popov.[12] When it entered service in 1976, it was the second MBT in the world to be equipped with a gas turbine engine, after the Swedish Stridsvagn 103, and the first production tank to use it as a main propulsion engine (the first tank to use a gas turbine as a main engine was the prototype British Conqueror FV200 Turbine Test Vehicle[13]). The T-80U was last produced in 2001 in a factory in Omsk, Russia.

The Ukrainian T-80UD diesel engine variant continued to be produced in Ukraine. The T-80 and its variants are in service in Belarus, Cyprus, Egypt, Kazakhstan,[14] Pakistan, Russia, South Korea, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Ukraine further developed the T-80UD as the T-84.

The project to build the first Soviet turbine powered tank began in 1949. Its designer was A. Ch. Starostienko, who worked at the Leningrad Kirov Plant (LKZ). The tank was never built because available turbine engines were of very poor quality. In 1955, two prototype 1,000 hp (746 kW) turbine engines were built at the same plant under the guidance of G. A. Ogloblin. Two years later a team led by Josef Kotin constructed two prototypes of the Object 278 tank. Both were hybrids of the IS-7 and the T-10 heavy tanks, powered by the GTD-1 turbine engine, weighing 53.5 tonnes and armed with an M65 130 mm tank gun. The turbine engine allowed the tank to reach a maximum speed of 57.3 km/h (35.6 mph), however with only 1,950 liters of fuel on board, their range was limited to only 300 km (190 mi). The two tanks were considered experimental vehicles and work on them eventually ceased. In 1963, the Morozov Design Bureau designed the T-64 and T-64T tanks. They used GTD-3TL turbine engines which generated 700 hp (522 kW). The tank was tested until 1965. At the same time, at Uralvagonzavod, a design team under the guidance of L. N. Kartsev created the Object 167T tank. In 1964, in its report to First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev, the team reported that the design was not worth pursuing partly due to its high fuel use.[15][16]

In 1960, Khrushchev ended all heavy tank programs. LKZ, concerned with the poor reliability of the 5TD diesel engine of the T-64, was freed to focus on gas turbine tank engine development. In 1967, the S. P. Izotov bureau at the Klimov Research-Production Association was assigned to this project. Rather than re-purpose an existing helicopter engine, Izotov built the GTD-1000T from scratch.[17]

In 1966, the LKZ built the experimental Object 288 "rocket tank," powered by two aerial GTD-350 turbine engines with a combined power of 691 hp (515 kW). Trials indicated that twin propulsion was no better than the turbine engine which had been in development since 1968 at LKZ and Omsktransmash.[18]

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