Home' Defence Review Asia : DRA March-April 2016 Contents 32 DefenceReviewAsia | MAR-APR 2016
There are thousands of Soviet era tanks and their
clones in service around the world. Some owners
go for various upgrade solutions. The T-54, T-55 and
T-62 models are generally regarded as too old for
any sort of investment into improving their qualities.
Most of the ongoing upgrade programs are to do
with the T-72. Even though its design originates in
the early 1970s, this tank is still treated as a valuable
asset through having a 125-mm smooth bore cannon,
sufficient armor protection and mobility.
About forty countries operate such tanks. Most
came from the UralVagonZavod company where the
type was in production from 1974 until 1991. Other
examples were made at the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant
in Russia or under license in Poland (including those
in Malaysian service), Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia,
Iran and India.
The Indian army has two thousand T-72s plus
engineering and other machines on the same
chassis. Modernization is ongoing with replacement
of the original 780-hp engine and transmission
by more powerful and modern examples so as
to keep these tanks in service till 2025. To much
dissatisfaction from Russian industry, a number of
technology insertions into the Indian army tanks
come from Israeli firms. These include the addition
of Elbit fire control systems.
Russian companies developed their own solutions,
such as the T-72B3 (mod.), which has been
accepted by local customers. A relatively inexpensive
modernization centers on better protection against
cumulative weapons (additional plates of ceramics
and steel), including those with a twin penetrator. The
Nakidka self-protection system reduces the risk of
being hit by ATGMs.
Other features of the improved tank include a
new fire control system with modern thermal imager,
electromagnetic protection against mines and a unit
to deploy a mix of screening gases for the purpose of
protection against an incoming ATGM.
The NSVT-12.7 Kord 12.7-mm machine gun
atop the turret can be remotely controlled for better
protection of its operator. In urban warfare, this
should increase the survival chances for the tank
crews, who can open fire at newly emerged threats
almost immediately after they are detected (which is
not always possible with the original T-72).
For those who can afford it, the original 125-mm
cannon can be replaced by the 2A46M-5 of the
same caliber. It comes with a built-in monitoring
system to achieve 15-20% better firing accuracy.
Coupled with the modern fire control system, it
improved the accuracy of in-motion firing in the order
of 1.7 times.
Thermal imagers ensure accurate firing with
cannon-launched missiles at night. The KMZ plant in
Krasnogorsk offers the Agat-MDT “tank commander
sighting system” with a built-in thermal imager and a
laser channel as replacement to the PNK-4S on the
current-production T-90S. It can also be fitted to the
T-80 and T-72.
Top upgrade solutions available for the BMP-2
center on replacement of its original turret with the
Bakhcha, Berezhok or B05Ya01 “combat modules”
(also applicable to APCs). The original IFV had
the capability to launch Konkurs ATGM, which is
considered outdated. It can be replaced by 9M113
Kornet missiles (four containerized weapons in two
baskets attached to the turret, right and left of the
2A42 30-mm cannon). The newest version Kornet-
EM has its firing range extended to 10km. Equipment
in the combat modules allows for simultaneous firing
at two targets at a time, or a salvo of two missiles for
a higher probability of hit and kill. Replacing Konkurs
by Kornet should be an attractive option for India.
New Delhi signed a big contract worth almost a
quarter of a billion US dollars for the newer ATGM
in 2012. Under its terms, ten thousand missiles will
be added to the fifteen thousand purchased under a
similar contract in 2008.
Vietnam and Indonesia are BMP-2 operators and
potential customers for the above upgrades, as well
as Iran, which used to make this IFV under license.
OTHER MACHINES ON TRACKED CHASSIS
There are many variations of Russian armored
vehicles that use tracked chassis of MBT or
IFV. Perhaps the most interesting of those is the
BMPD Terminator from UralVagonZavod. The
abbreviation stands for “combat machine for
support of tanks”. Kazakhstan acquired ten such
vehicles in 2011-2012.
The most recent version is designated BMPT-72
Terminator 2. It uses the chassis of a standard T-72
tank, with the ordinary engine replaced by a 1,000-
hp B-92S2 (also applicable to MBT modernization).
The core change is to replace the tank’s turret with
another combat module that contains a pair of 30-
mm 2A42 rapid fire cannons (each fed with 850
rounds of ammunition), a 7.62mm PKTM machine
gun (2,100 rounds of ammunition) and two ready-
for-launch Ataka-T missiles (can be used against
helicopters, armored vehicles etc.). Additionally, there
are two AG-17D automatic grenade launchers (each
with 300 grenades in a belt).
The BMPT-72 development is focused on urban
warfare. Tank crews sometimes have difficulty in
training the cannon since it protrudes well out of
the chassis and comes into contact with various
obstacles, such as trees, lamp posts and the remains
of buildings. The BMPT-72 does not have that
drawback. In a number of practical situations, its crew
can open fire at emerging targets immediately with
bullets, shells, grenades or missiles.
For a complete picture of Russian armored
vehicles, we should also mention the 152- and
122-mm self-propelled howitzers, TOS-1 heavy
flame-throwing systems, ZSU-23-4 Shilka and
other anti-aircraft systems on tracked chassis,
BMD-1/2/3/4/4M air-droppable combat machines
for paratroopers etc. Customers for Russian
weapons often go for these and other specialized
machines because of their high degree of
commonality with mainstream MBTs, IFVs and
BMD-4 paratroopers combat vehicle (air-droppable) Credit: V Karnozov
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