T-72B3M Main Battle Tank, Russia

T-72B3M main battle tank

T-72B3M, also referred to as T-72B4, is an upgraded variant of the T-72B3 main battle tank (MBT) developed by Uralvagonzavod Research and Production Corporation.

The T-72B3M tank was exhibited for the first time to the public during the 2014 Tank Biathlon World Championship held in October 2014.

The first batch of 20 upgraded tanks entered service with the Western Military District of the Russian Army in February. The first T-72B3M tank was inducted into service by the Belarusian Armed Forces in June.

T-72B3M design and features

The layout of the T-72B3M is identical to that of the standard T-72 with driver's cab at forward hull, fighting compartment in the centre and the power-pack at the rear. The tank is manned by a crew of three, including a driver, a commander and a gunner. The middle section of the forward hull houses the driver, while the turret accommodates the other two crew members.

The tank features an advanced fire control system and a new thermal sight. The mobility and combat characteristics of the tank have also been improved to compete with the most advanced tanks worldwide.

The T-72B3M tank is also equipped with radio systems for encrypted digital voice and data transfer, snorkels for deep fording, and a built-in blade for self-entrenching.

T72B3M armament

The T72B3M is armed with a 2A46M5 125mm smoothbore gun, which is an advanced version of the 2A46M cannon. It can fire a range of ammunition, including armour-piercing discarding sabot (APDS), high-explosive fragmentation (HEF) and high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT), as well as 9M119 Refleks (NATO codename: AT-11 Sniper) guided anti-tank missiles. The projectiles and missiles are loaded by an auto-loader.

The AT-11 Sniper missile has a maximum range of 4,000m and can engage tanks fitted with explosive reactive armour. The secondary armament includes a co-axial 7.62mm PKTM machine gun and a roof-mounted 12.7mm NSV heavy machine gun. The turret is also mounted with a bank of eight smoke grenade dischargers.

Observation and fire control

The commander is provided with a new panoramic sight with thermal vision. The sight includes a day channel, a laser range finder and an image intensifier to observe the battlefield, search for targets and assign them to the gunner and direct the turret.

The fire control system is interfaced with Sosna-U sighting system and a ballistic computer. The Sosna-U sight includes a second-generation thermal imaging camera, laser range finder and a channel for missile guidance.

Self-protection features of T-72B3M

The T-72B3M MBT is mounted with the new Relikt explosive reactive armour (ERA) replacing the previous Kontakt-5 second-generation ERA. The new armour offers superior protection against shaped charges, tandem warheads, APFSDS rounds, anti-tank guided missiles, as well as low-velocity and high-velocity missiles.

"The T-72B3M tank was exhibited for the first time to the public during the 2014 Tank Biathlon World Championship held in October 2014."

The side skirts are hinged with large flat ERA modules. The tank is also equipped with an overpressure-type nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection system.

Engine and mobility

The T-72B3M MBT is powered by a new V-92S2F engine in place of the old 780hp diesel engine. The new engine is coupled to an automatic transmission system and improved drivetrain. It develops a maximum power output of 1,130hp. The power-plant provides a maximum road speed of 60km/h and a maximum range of 550km.

The tank features torsion bar suspension and running gear on either side of the hull, with six road wheels with the idler at forward and drive sprocket at the rear. The inside of the track is supported by three return rollers.

The first, second and sixth road wheel stations are installed with shock-absorbers, while the upper parts of the suspension are protected by rubber skirts. The vehicle can negotiate a gradient of 60% and side slope of 40% and can ford at a maximum depth of 5m with preparation.

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