According to the Russian prestigious Izvestia newspaper, the T-80 main battle tank upgraded to the version of T-80BV will enter service with the Russian Army in 2017. The older T-80 tanks will be taken out of storage to be modernized to the new T-80BV standard.
The upgraded version boasts a new fire control system, improved armor protection and reduced fuel consumption.
The upgraded tank will receive the new Sosna-U gunner’s fire control system integrated with thermal imaging viewfinder, laser distance measurement device and automatic target stick. It will allow using all types of ammunition, including guided missiles. With the Sosna-U installed, the firing range will increase to 3,300 m (10,827 feet). The laser range-finder is able to determine the distance from 50 up to 7500 meters. The sighting systems allow the commander to fire the main gun using gunner’s sighting systems in a duplicated mode. The Sosna-U is complemented by the modified 1P67 optical sight that is used in emergency.
Tanks will also be equipped with Relikt – Russia’s most modern explosive reactive armor (ERA). According to Business Insider, an ERA uses two plates of armor that sandwich an inner explosive liner on the outside of a vehicle. When a penetrating projectile hits the outer face plate, the explosive liner detonates. This detonation disrupts the enemy projectile by both shifting the plate armor, lowering the incoming projectile's velocity, and by changing the impact angle of the projectile. These shifts mean the incoming projectile has to penetrate a larger amount of armor, lowering its overall effectiveness.
Relikt utilizes the 4S23 high-sensitive explosive element to provide a high level of protection against armor-piercing rounds. It detonates on command before the round hits based on information from radar.
In addition, the tank will be also equipped with fast-acting fire safety system of the instrumental complex PKUZ-1A.
The armament includes the 9M112 Kobra (AT-8 Songster) (6 missiles), 125 mm 2A46M-1 (D-81TM "Rapira-3") smoothbore main gun, 7.62 mm PKT coaxial tank (1,250 rounds) and 12.7 mm anti-aircraft heavy (500 rounds) machine guns. With the effective range of 100–4,000 meters), the AT-8 missile has a muzzle velocity of 125 m/s, this increases to 800 m/s at peak, but averages out at 350 to 400 meters a second. The flight time to 4,000 meters is 9 to 10 seconds. The missile has a single 4.5 kg HEAT warhead, which can penetrate 600 mm of rolled homogeneous armor (RHA).
The gas turbine engine GTD-1000T and GTD-1000TF on the old T-80 with capacity 1,000-1,100 hp will be replaced by 1,250 hp GTD-1250 for higher performance. The engine resembles powerpacks intended for helicopters. All processes are performed in the moving gas flow. Compressed air flows from compressor to combustion chamber where fuel is fed. While burning, the fuel produces a large volume of pressurized gases. Then, the pressure energy is transformed into the mechanical one by the movement of turbine’s fins. The gas turbine engine is less vulnerable than a diesel engine to compartment flooding and it is less likely to stall if the vehicle got stuck.
The tank gas-turbine engine can operate at temperatures below -50C to make it suitable for the climatic conditions of the Far East, Siberia, and Arctic.
The driver’s seat is equipped with modern TVN-5/TVN-5M binocular night vision goggles. The new R-168-25U-2 VHF radio station is integrated with the upgraded INTERCOM system.
Alexander Umansky, chief designer of the T-80-class tanks, said Omsktransmash, a state-owned tank design and engineering facility in the Siberian city of Omsk, is readу to start the modernization. Around 450 T-80 tanks are still in service in the Russian Army and 3,000 more T-80B/BV-U tanks are stored. He did not say how many tanks will be modernized. The upgraded vehicles are expected to bridge the gap until Russia completes the development of the new cutting-edge Armata T-14 tank.
The new kit to be installed on the T-80 BV demonstrates the defense industry’s ability to come up with the best. The Sosna-U and Relikt give the T-80 second life turning it into a 21st century combat vehicle.