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T-72 Main Battle Tank (Russia)

T-72 Main Battle Tank (Russia)

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T-72 Main Battle Tank (Russia) - History

The T-90 [8] is a third-generation Russian main battle tank that entered service in 1993. The tank is a modern variation of the T-72B and incorporates many features found on the T-80U. Originally called the T-72BU, but later renamed to T-90, it is an advanced tank in service with Russian Ground Forces and the Naval Infantry. The T-90 uses a 125 mm 2A46 smoothbore main gun, the 1A45T fire-control system, an upgraded engine, and gunner's thermal sight. Standard protective measures include a blend of steel and composite armour, smoke grenade dischargers, Kontakt-5 explosive-reactive armour and the Shtora infrared ATGM jamming system. It was designed and built by Uralvagonzavod, in Nizhny Tagil, Russia.


Planning and development Edit

The DRDO, with its Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) as the main laboratory, was tasked to develop the hull, armour, turret, running gear and gun for the tank, with the powerpack being imported. [30]

Although the development of the tank began in 1972 by the CVRDE, it was only in 1996 that the Indian government decided to mass-produce the tank at Indian Ordnance Factory's production facility in Avadi. [25] [31]

When first accepted for service in the army, the Arjun relied heavily on foreign components and technology. Initially close to 50% of the tank's components were imported, which included the engine, transmission, gun barrel, tracks, and fire control system. [32] However, almost all of these systems have since been replaced by indigenous systems or are being supplied by Indian companies. [33] [34] Recent comments from Army sources indicate that the Russian T-90S will form the mainstay of its future force, despite the tank's performance issues in hot weather.

The Arjun project experienced serious budget overruns and repeated delays that resulted in a development time of over 37 years. A complicating factor was that advances in technology and the threat environment in the intervening years led to multiple revision of requirements by the Army. While the government sanctioned ₹ 15.5 crore (equivalent to ₹ 374 crore or US$52.4 million in 2019) for the initial design in May 1974, [30] by 1995, DRDO had spent ₹ 300 crore (equivalent to ₹ 14 billion or US$201.7 million in 2019) on development due to changing requirements and inflationary cost increases. [35]

However, DRDO succeeded in bridging more than several decades worth of technology gap in producing a Generation III tank at a lower development cost than that of other countries.

Production and deployment Edit

The Indian Army ordered 124 Arjuns in 2010, [36] expected to cost US$ 471.2 million. [1]

Early development versions of the Arjun were held by 43 Armoured Regiment which were shown in display in the Republic Day Parade of 2001. [37] The first batch of 16 production version Arjun tanks were received in 2004 [22] and they were provided as a squadron to the 43 Armoured Regiment. [38] The regiment was later made up to 45 tanks on 25 May 2009 making it the first Arjun regiment of the Indian Army. [22] [39] More than 100 tanks have been delivered to the Indian Army as of June 2011. [40]

The latest regiment to be completely equipped by the Arjun tank is 75 Armoured Regiment which was the last regiment in the Indian Army to hold the T-55 tank. Ministry of Defence (MoD) concluded the negotiations with Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for 118 unit of Arjun Mk.1A for Indian Army Armoured Corps at an estimated amount of ₹6,600 crore (US$888.7 million) with order of intent likely to be place at any moment that will also include two-year engineering and support package with maintenance, spares and simulator training for the crew members.

Delivery of first Arjun Mk.1A will start 30 months after signing of contract with all 118 units to be delivered within four to five years. [41] MoD has cleared induction of 118 Arjun Mark 1A at the cost of ₹8,400 crore as of 12 February 2021. [42]

Upgrades Edit

As part of improving the Arjun to the Mark 2 variant, DRDO is continuing to develop new technology systems for MBT Arjun, to improve performance in areas like automatic target locating, tracking and destruction. [43] The Arjun Mk.2 variant is being developed in coordination with & involvement of the Indian Army and will feature several modifications that are being sought by it. [6]

DRDO has developed the Tank Urban Survival Kit which is a series of improvements to the Arjun intended to improve fighting ability in urban environments which includes defensive aids such as laser warning, IR jammer, and aerosol smoke grenade system. [44] [45]

CVRDE has developed tank simulators. [43] MBT Arjun Simulator comprises driving simulator and turret simulator that are being developed for troop level training. [46]

DRDO developed a Laser Warning Control System (LWCS) in cooperation with Elbit Limited of Israel to be equipped on the Arjun at regimental level. LWCS includes the defensive aids mentioned, and will help reduce the signatures of the tank in the battle field and improve its survivability.

DRDO is also co-developing the Mobile Camouflaging System (MCS) technology along with a Gurgaon-based private sector defence manufacturer Barracuda Camouflaging Limited. The MCS has been developed by DRDO to help the tank reduce the threat of interference from all types of sensors and smart munitions of the enemy in the tank's systems. [ citation needed ]

The upgrade also includes a new improved 1500 hp engine. [47] [48] An anti-helicopter round is under development as well. [25]

Armament Edit

Armed with a 120 mm rifled gun, the Arjun is capable of firing APFSDS (kinetic energy penetrator) rounds, HE, HEAT, High Explosive Squash Head (HESH), Penetration-Cum-Blast (PCB) rounds, Thermobaric Rounds (TB) rounds at the rate of 6–8 rounds per minute. The Arjun can also fire the Israeli developed semi-active laser-guided, gun-launched LAHAT missile, which is designed to defeat both enemy armour and enemy combat helicopters.

In addition, the Arjun is armed with a 12.7 mm AA machine gun and a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun. [49] The Arjun can carry 39 rounds in special blast-proof canisters with blow out panels.

The Arjun uses a manual loader and has a crewman to reload the gun.

120 mm main rifled gun Edit

The Arjun is equipped with an 120 mm rifled gun which can fire a variety of rounds including ATGMs with high level of accuracy. The gun has an effective life span of 500 Full Effective Charge compared to 250 full effective charge of T-72 and T-90 tanks of the Indian army. [50] During trails the gun was found to be very accurate by hitting an 1 m x 1 m at an distance of 1.5 km. The gun was found to be very effective and accurate with the penetration-cum-blast and thermobaric ammunition

APFSDS ammunition Edit

The Arjun is equipped with an indigenous tungsten alloy based APFSDS round which has an penetration 500 mm RHA.[1]

Penetration-cum-blast (PCB) and Thermobaric (TB) ammunition Edit

Penetration-cum-Blast (PCB) and Thermobaric (TB) ammunition have been specially designed for the Arjun Tank by Pune-based DRDO laboratories, namely the Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) and High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL). Relatively cheap to manufacture and maintain, these projectiles provide performance superior to conventional HESH and HEAT rounds.

The PCB projectile penetrates the protective layer of the target followed by an internal blast which causes collateral damage to the enemy. It has an electromechanical fuse which functions only after sensing the impact at a predetermined delay. The PCB projectile has lethal capability of penetrating reinforced concrete wall of thickness over 500 mm at a range exceeding 1.5 km range, and is highly effective against hardened and armoured targets. [51]

The TB round, when hitting a target, produces a blast overpressure and heat energy for over a few hundred milliseconds, which causes collateral damage to enemy fortified structures like bunkers and buildings. It is suitable for urban warfare, and has been designed to engage soft-skinned targets and against armoured targets. [52]

During development, these varieties of ammunition were extensively evaluated against different simulated targets– tanks, armour plates, concrete structures and fortifications. The trials were conducted jointly with the Army and were aimed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the ammunition on a derelict tank fitted with instrumentation to measure the shocks, blast pressure and temperature at various locations and an advanced imaging system. [53] [54] During trials both these rounds were proven to be effective against armoured and fortified targets. [52] The projectile [ which? ] also had remarkable accuracy in engaging targets over 1 m × 1 m (3 ft 3 in × 3 ft 3 in) cross section. [ citation needed ]


Although the Arjun was planned to be equipped with the Israeli LAHAT missile, plans to fit it to the tank were later dropped the missile has an effective range of 6,000 meters, but it could not meet the Indian Army's requirements of engaging targets at less than 1,200 meters.

An indigenous ATGM called SAMHO was developed to meet the army's requirement. DRDO completed the feasibility study by 2004 and started developing SAMHO in 2014 as part of Cannon-Launched Missile Development Programme to replace LAHAT that can be launched from multiple-platform and mitigate the minimum engagement range of 1,200 meters. SAMHO or Semi-Active Mission Homing has been developed by the ARDE in collaboration with HEMRL and the Instruments Research and Development Establishment (IRDE). It covers 4 km in range and uses tandem-charge high-explosive anti-tank warheads that are capable of destroying explosive reactive armour protection. SAMHO uses semi-active laser homing as guidance and can destroy low flying helicopters and hardened point structures. The SAMHO ATGM is one of the key upgrade feature for Arjun Mark 1A. [55] [56] [57] [58]

On 23 September 2020, under technical evaluation trials for the Indian Army, DRDO successfully test-fired SAMHO ATGM from Arjun MBT at KK Ranges, Armoured Corps Centre and School (ACC&S), Ahmednagar. [59] On 1 October 2020, second successful test of SAMHO ATGM was conducted that can cover a target distance of 1.5 km to 5 km. [60]

Fire control and navigation Edit

The computerised fire control system aboard Arjun has been jointly developed by DRDO with Israeli company Elbit. [61] The Fire Control System is stabilised on two axes, and with an extremely high hit probability (design criteria call for a greater than 0.9 Pk) replaces an earlier analogue one, which had problems due to its inability to function under the harsh desert conditions. [31] The combined day sight from Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and the thermal imager (formerly from Sagem, now reported to be from El-Op) constitute the gunner's primary sight.The commanders primary sight is an 3rd generation Thermal Imaging camera and the gunner has an 2nd generation Thermal Imaging camera which gives the tank hunter killer capability in night time. The tank has an laser range finder which has an maximum range of 10km.[2]

The first batch of tanks of the 124 ordered by the Army will have an all-digital Sagem FCS, whereas the second block will have the BEL unit, which will be used for all units thereafter.

The commander's own stabilised panoramic sight allows him to engage targets and/or hand them over to the gunner. It has a panoramic sight with the commander's station equipped with eight periscopes for 360° vision. The commander's independent thermal viewer, weapon station, position navigation equipment, and a full set of controls and displays have been linked by a digital data bus for improved fire control system. [62]

The Arjun has an auxiliary power unit to operate weapon systems in silent watch mode as well. [25] [63] [64]

The Advanced Fire Control System (AFCS) is linked to a millimetre band radar system, laser range-finder and designator, crosswind sensor, IR, observation systems and sensors, real-time command, beyond-vision-range target engaging and radiometer sensors on board.

Arjun is also equipped with an Advanced Laser Warning Countermeasure System (ALWCS) for the fire control system, jointly developed with Elbit Systems Limited of Israel. The system comprises four all-bearing Laser warning receivers (LWR) for the new fire-control system which enables the Arjun to of shoot down helicopters. The ALWCS has been integrated on Arjun MBT and trials have been carried out. [46] [65]

Arjun's Integrated Battlefield Management System (IBMS), a state-of-the-art battlefield management system, incorporated into Arjun, co-developed by DRDO and Elbit, allows it to network with other fighting units.

It also incorporates GPS/INS-based navigation systems and sophisticated frequency hopping radios. [66] In a search and engage operation, several Arjun tanks can monitor an opponent and his moves, and try to eliminate him in a chase or ambush. [25] [63] [64]

Protection Edit

The Arjun uses DMR-1700 high hardened steel instead of regular RHA steel used on most of the tanks as an base plate.The DMR-1700 which was developed by Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory, Hyderabad has shown more advantages compared to RHA steel like lower weight and more corrosion resistance.From the ballistic test it is seen that DMR-1700 steel exhibits improved ballistic performance of about 25 percent against 7.62 AP ammunition and 20 percent against long rod Armour-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot rounds as compared to RHA steel and also possess easy weldability and half the cost of RHA steel. [3]

The turret and glacis are protected with "Kanchan" ("gold") modular composite armour, which derived its name from Kanchan Bagh, Hyderabad, where the Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL) is located. [67] Kanchan is made by sandwiching composite panels between Rolled Homogenous Armour (RHA). This helps in defeating APFDS and HEAT rounds.

Trials conducted in 2000 showcased the ability of Kanchan armour to protect the tank, even when hit at point blank range by a T-72. It also demonstrated the capability to defeat HESH and APFSDS rounds, which includes Israeli APFSDS rounds. [67]

The Arjun Mk.2 variant has a new honeycomb design of Non-Explosive and Non-Energetic Reactive Armour (NERA), nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection equipment, mine sweeps and an automatic fire fighting system. [68]

Active and Passive Protection:

Arjun is equipped with a Mobile Camouflage System which has been developed and integrated into Arjun's design as part of the 'Development of Defensive Aids System' project developed in collaboration with Barracuda Camouflage Ltd., to reduce the vehicle signature ensuring decrease in detection by infrared, thermal and radar and all known sensors and smart munitions. Planned improvements include Electro-optical/IR "dazzlers". [46]

A millimetre band radar system mounted on the turret is capable of operating as a missile approach warning system (MAWS) and is equipped with a radar warning receiver (RWR) and radar jammer. The tank is also fitted with an infrared (IR) jammer. [69]

Arjun mk.1A is equipped with an Advanced Laser Warning Countermeasure System (ALWCS) for the fire control system, jointly developed with Elbit Systems Limited of Israel. [69]

The system comprises four all-bearing Laser warning receivers (LWR) which alerts the tank when being pointed by an laser range finder (the laser warning receiver prevents the enemy from getting the distance data between the tank which diminishes the chance of getting hit by an ATGM or by an enemy tank). When the system gets pointed out by an laser range finder or laser guided ordnance it automatically deploys aerosol smoke grenades which blocks the laser and prevents the tank from being hit. [69]

The Arjun has separate canisterised ammunition bins with individual shutters for storing the ammunitions (similar to Merkava tank) and the Arjun has blow out panels which reduces the high pressure created by an ammunition fire. [68]

The Arjun is equipped with an instant fire and explosion suppression system. It was developed by Centre for Fire, Explosive and Environment Safety. The indigenous development of this system is considered to be a breakthrough in the field of fire/explosion protection of this tank this system along with the canisterised ammunition bins makes the tank less vulnerable to ammunition fire inside the crew compartment. The system is capable of suppressing hydrocarbon fuel fire/explosion resulting from an enemy hit on the tank or due to any malfunctioning of the engine, transmission or any electrical short circuiting. The system is based on infra-red detectors for the detection of fire/explosion in the crew compartment of the battle tank and a continuous type of linear thermal detector popularly known as fire-wire for the engine compartment. Halon-1301 has been employed as a fire extinguishing medium. The system is capable of detection and suppression of hydrocarbon fuel fire/explosion in the crew compartment within 200 milliseconds and in the engine compartment within 15 seconds thereby enhancing the chances of survivability of the crew and battle effectiveness of the tank. [70]

An hard kill based active protection system is also under development which will have an 360 coverage and can engage threats up to an distance of 150M.[4]

Mobility Edit

The engine and transmission are provided by German companies MTU and Renk respectively. [71] The water-cooled engine generates 1,400 hp and is integrated with an Indian turbocharger and epicyclic train gearbox with four forward and two reverse gears. [72] A local transmission is under trials and it is envisioned to ultimately replace the Renk supplied unit. [71] The cooling pack has been designed for desert operations.

The tracks which were being supplied by German company Diehl are now indigenously being manufactured by Larsen & Toubro. [71]

The Arjun has a lower ground pressure than the lighter T-72 and T-90, in spite of being heavier, due to its design. [71]

The Arjun features a hydro-pneumatic suspension [73] which is more advanced than other MBTs which have a torsion bar or helical spring suspension systems. [74] This coupled with the Arjun's stabilization and fire control system allows the tank excellent first-hit probability against moving targets while on the move. [73] Its ride comfort is highly praised. [73] On the negative side, it is a more maintenance-intensive and expensive system, despite being more capable than the simpler and cheaper torsion bar suspension systems used on many tanks. [75]

During trials, the Arjun showcased its fording capability, by driving under 1.8 metres of water for 20 minutes. [76]

A new 1500 hp engine and an automatic transmission system is being developed that will eventually replace the present engine and transmission system which were being imported from Germany. A budgetary assignation for ₹ 400 million (US$5.6 million) has been assigned for the project, which is expected to be completed in five years. [77]

In 1988–1989, two prototypes underwent automotive trials, which revealed major deficiencies in mobility, engine, and transmission . [78]

The prototypes that underwent extensive mobility and armament trials, in 1996 and 1997 were found to perform below the acceptable standards and defecient due to the imported Fire Control System, Engine and transmission system which failed to perform in the scorching Rajasthan desert. [78]

The Arjun faced persistent problems of overheating of the imported fire control system (FCS), the suspension system, integrated gunner's main sight, which includes a thermal imager and laser range-finder, which were rendered erratic and useless by the abnormally high peak internal temperature of beyond 55 °C in India. All the major imported systems were then replaced by indigenously modified/license built systems which perfectly matched the requirements made by the army.

Major General H.M. Singh, a director in charge of trial and evaluation, said the user field trial report had certified the accuracy and consistency of the weapon system. [79] [80] [81] [82]

However,the army found some minor defects and added new requirements in the tank and suggested the DRDO to build an new tank based on the Arjun.This eventually led to the development of Arjun Mk.2, an advanced version of the Arjun MBT [83] . [26] [84]

A comparative trial was conducted by the Indian Army in March 2010, in which the Arjun was pitted against the T-90. The trial pitted one squadron of Arjuns against an equal number of T-90s. Each squadron was given three tactical tasks each involved driving across 50 kilometres of desert terrain and then shooting at a set of targets. Each tank had to fire at least ten rounds, stationary and on the move, with each hit being carefully logged. In total, each tank drove 150 km and fired between 30–50 rounds. The trials also checked the tanks' ability to drive through water channels 1.5–1.8 metres deep. [85]

A Ministry of Defence press release reported that the Arjun demonstrated excellent performance under various circumstances, such as driving cross-country over rugged sand dunes, detecting, observing and quickly engaging targets, accurately hitting targets – both stationary and moving, with pin pointed accuracy. It displayed accurate and quick target acquisition capability during day and night in all types of weather and shortest possible reaction time during combat engagements, which is about the same level as Russian T-90, if not better. [85] [86]

Indian Army Armoured Corps has cleared and ordered the upgraded Arjun Mk.1A after successful completion of final integration tests conducted on 2019 in Rajasthan. It comes with 72 improvements over Arjun Mk.1 with 14 major upgrades. Arjun Mk.1A is undergoing mass production at Heavy Vehicle Factory.

During the initial operations the Arjun suffered major operational challenges due to the lack of imported spares. [87]

In 2017 it was reported that the DRDO had received the necessary imported spares to repair the faults that had grounded 75% of the fleet. [88]

  • Arjun Mk.1A: (previously known as Arjun MK2) A 68 tonne improved variant of Arjun Mark 1, specifically requested by the Indian Army for better fire power, protection, improved weight distribution and mobility. Some of the major upgrades are Remote controlled weapon station (RCWS), improved Gunner's Main Sight (GMS) integrated with Automatic Target Tracking (ATT) which are all connected to a computerized fire control system enhancing the first round kill capability that guarantees accurate engagement even under adverse conditions, panoramic sight (CPS Mark II) integrated uncooled thermal imager and night vision camera with binocular sights, laser rangefinder for an advanced hunter killer capability, Track Width Mine plough (TWMP), Containerized Ammunition Bin with Individual Shutter (CABIS), Laser Warning and Countermeasure System (LWCMS), anti-infrared / anti-Thermal Imaging paints, advanced land navigation system, more powerful 8.5 kW capacity Auxiliary power unit (APU) and an enhanced communication system capable of real-time data transmission. The hull and turret of Arjun Mk.1A have been modified to give a lower silhouette making detection more difficult, while it also supports the newly developed Thermo-Baric (TB) and Penetration-cum-Blast (PCB) ammunition. DRDO developed cannon launched guided missile that will replace the LAHAT will be integrated with Arjun Mk.1A after they start rolling out from the production line. To improve mobility due to additional increase in weight, an Advanced Running Gear System (ARGS) has been developed and the hydropneumatic suspension system is completely redesigned to enhance agility. The number of foreign made imported components are also reduced from 63 to 54 percent. [89][90]
  • Bhim SPH: A 155 mm self-propelled howitzer variant of the Arjun has been prototyped by fitting the South African Denel T6 turret, which comes with the G5 howitzer to the Arjun chassis. This project has been delayed as Denel has become embroiled in a corruption scandal in India, and hence the Indian Ministry of Defence has suspended the Bhim.
  • 130 mm Catapult: The Indian Army wants to place the 130 mm catapult system on Arjun chassis. The trials were successfully concluded and it also found that the new system fared better than the M-46 Catapult on the Vijayata chassis in terms of mobility and the ability to absorb shocks during firing charged rounds. The system is also fitted with night vision systems and fire suppression systems available on the Arjun. An order of 40 systems will be placed by the Indian Army. [91][92]
  • Bridge Layer Tank (BLT) based on the Arjun chassis has also been displayed by the DRDO. [93] Developed in cooperation with Indian industry, this bridge layer is deemed superior to the T-72 based units, as it can handle a larger load and uses a "scissors type" bridgelaying method, which does not raise the bridge high up into the air, and hence make it visible from afar. The R&DE(E) did this by replacing the tank's gun and turret with the bridge launcher. The bridge is cantilevered over or across rivers to cover a distance of 26 m with a width of 4 m. The BLT-Arjun carries two-halves of a bridge. At a wet or dry gap, the launcher slides the two parts and docks them to each other in such a way that the far end of the second half touches the other bank. The BLT then crosses the bridge, turns around, retrieves the bridge after undocking its two-halves, folds it and is ready to move with the armoured column. [94]
  • Armoured Engineering Vehicle (AEV) based on the Arjun are also assumed to be in development, as the Arjun induction will require units of a similar power-to-weight ratio or powerful enough to tow it, or recover it on the battlefield. [95]
  • Tank EX: Prototypes have been built for a new tank obtained by coupling a T-72 chassis and an Arjun turret.

The Arjun Mark-1A (previously known as Arjun MK2) is an advanced third generation tank developed from the Arjun MK1. [96] [ citation needed ] Its development was completed withinn 2 years owing to experience gained from developing the first version. [97] It has outclassed the T-90 during comparative trials. [98]

Regarding the trials, a Ministry of Defence press release reported: "After many years of trial and tribulation it has now proved its worth by its superb performance under various circumstances, such as driving cross-country over rugged sand dunes, detecting, observing and quickly engaging targets, accurately hitting targets both stationary and moving, with pin pointed accuracy. Its superior fire-power is based on accurate and quick target acquisition capability during day and night in all types of weather and shortest possible reaction time during combat engagements". The fire control system of the new tank has a hit probability over 90%, when firing on the move. The new tank also has improved communication systems and new navigation system. [99]

Arjun Mk1-A has a total of 93 upgrades, including 13 major improvements. The major upgrades are missile-firing capability against long-range targets, panoramic sight with night vision to engage targets effectively at night, containerisation of the ammunition, enhanced main weapon penetration, additional ammunition types, explosive reactive armour, an advanced air-defence gun to engage helicopters, a mine plough, an advanced land navigation system and a warning system which can fire smoke grenades to confuse laser guidance. [100]

Other upgrades are an enhanced auxiliary power unit providing 8.5 kW (from 4.5 kW) and an improved gun barrel, [101] changes in the commander's panoramic sight with eye safe LRF, night vision capability including one for the driver, digital control harness, new final drive, track and sprocket. [102]

The Arjun Mk1A has an advanced hydropneumatic suspension system which provides very good comfort to the crew. Arjun Mk.2 is also fitted with an auxiliary power unit which powers all systems when the main engine is turned off. [99]

The new variant possesses superior missile firing capabilities and can fire missiles accurately up to a range of 2,000 meters. [103] [104] The latest test consisted of an indigenously developed missile demonstrating target hit at a range of 5,000 meters.

Arjun tank hull and turret has been modified to achieve the target weight of about 55 tons from 59–64 tonnes. Elbit is helping to enhance its firepower and battlefield survivability and Israel Military Industries is helping to augment Arjun Mk.1A mobility, redesign its turret and hull and improve its production-line processes.

Protection levels are increased by using improved Kanchan armour, along with the locally developed explosive reactive armour modules in the turret. [ citation needed ]

The tank underwent developmental trials in 2012, at Rajasthan's Pokhran field firing range which continued for two months with the focus on 19 parameters. DRDO started readying the production line for manufacture of 124 Arjun Mk.2 tanks for the Indian Army after the success of these trials.

The tank commander's thermal imaging night sight, the tank's operation in "hunter-killer" mode, the tank's missile firing capability from its main gun, and a laser missile warning and countermeasure system were among the crucial upgrades that will be tested. [105]

The Mark-II version completed most user trials in 2012 and 2013 and displayed impressive performance. The new features of the Arjun Mk.1A received favourable responses [106] [107]

In August 2014, The apex Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) renewed a ₹6,600 crore clearance for 118 Arjun Mark II tanks. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had already cleared 118 Arjun Mk.1A's. That clearance had expired since the army has been evaluating the prototype tank for two years.

The renewal allows the army to order the tanks from Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi, when trials are completed. Further support was extended to the Arjun tank project through the clearance of 40 self-propelled artillery guns, worth ₹820 crore. This gun system, termed a "catapult", consists of a 130-millimetre gun mounted on an Arjun tank chassis, allowing it to keep up with tank columns and provide them fire support in battle. [108]

Arjun Mk.2 with mine ploughs at DefExpo 2014.

Arjun Mk.2 fuel tank and engine (back).

Arjun Mk.2 demonstration at DefExpo 2016.

Future MBT (FMBT) was originally a new tank design that was to be developed from scratch for induction in 2025 and beyond. The FMBT and the programme would be focused on weight reduction in the design and was to be a lighter tank of 50 tons. [109] [110]

The FMBT was cleared for technology development phase by standing committee on defence in 2020. The DRDO has requested additional funding of 5000 crore rupees for the FMBT project. The FMBT awaits Preliminary Staff Qualitative Requirements (PSQR) from the army which is crucial for the design & development of the tank and for sanctioning the project. [111] [112]

One of the concepts of FMBT disclosed by Dr. Avinash Chander (SA-to-RM) is to explore the possibility of a 2-man crew, sub-50 ton tank with higher armour protection than Arjun Mk.2. He said that DRDO is currently doing feasibility study of using the fighter aircraft's digital cockpit & weapons management systems.

The FMBT is set to feature an Bharat power pack which consists of an indigenously developed 1800hp diesel engine and indigenous transmission system. And the FMBT is set to feature an 120mm smooth bore gun which can fire all the types of ammunitions including ATGMS to replace the current 120mm rifled guns used in Arjun series. [113]

It can be assumed that this planned FMBT would have a fully automatic turret, larger ammunition storage, V-hull and smaller dimensions. Driver and commander role would be retained for the 2 crews planned, with duplicated controls, with the Gunner/Loader roles completely automated. [114]

A number of upgrade packages are available for T-72 series tanks. Kharkov Machine Building Design Bureau (KMDB) of the Ukraine is offering the T-72MP with SAGEM SAVAN sights. They are also developing a version fitted with a Nato-standard 120mm smoothbore gun and automatic loader.

Uralvagonzavod of Russia is offering a T-72M1 upgrade that includes new 1,000hp diesel engine, new smoothbore 125mm gun, new fire control system with Sosna-U stabilised day / night sights for gunner and commander and digital ballistic computer, satellite navigation system, explosive reactive armour package and the Arena countermeasures system.

The Czech Republic has upgraded 30 of its fleet of T-72M1 tanks to T-72CZ standard. The first was delivered in January 2004. The upgrade includes ERA, Galileo Avionica TURMS-T computerised fire control system and a new powerpack by NIMDA of Israel with Perkins CV12 engine rated at 1,000bhp and Allison automatic transmission. ZTS Dubnica of Slovenia offer an upgrade for T-72 Moderna tanks.

In June 2002, Polish company Obrum signed a contract with Rheinmetall Landysysteme of Germany to cooperate on the modernisation of Polish Army T-72 tanks, using Leopard 2 technology.

In January 2010, Russia signed a €1.3bn military cooperation deal with Libya to upgrade 200 T-72 tanks of the Libyan Army.

In July 2019, the Polish Ministry of Defence signed a zl1.75bn ($458.13m) agreement with PGZ consortium for the upgrade of T-72 tank fleet by 2025.In August 2020, Iran unveiled the upgraded T-72M1 battle tank which features modified turret, flat armour on the side of the turret and a simplified forward-opening hatch.

A number of companies offer systems to upgrade the fire control system of T-72 series tanks with thermal imaging capability.

These include: SATES from El-Op of Israel, MT-01 from Indra of Spain, TFCS3-72C from Fotona of Slovenia, Tiger from LIW of South Africa, Drawa-T from PCO of Poland and Sanoet-2 from SAGEM of France.

T-72 Russian Production Models

Note: The K in a designation is for a Commanders tank and V was sometimes for those fitted with ERA armour.

T-72 “Ural” (1973)

Original production model with coincidence rangefinder and searchlight. Its understood that the model had the IR searchlight mounted on the left of the main gun.

T-72K (1973)

Command version, fitted with additional radios, these change depending on the rank of commander

T-72A (1979)

First big upgrade. Frontal turret armour improved with composite and a TPD-K1 laser range finder installed. Armoured track skirts covering the upper part of the suspension were added. A new Fire Control System was installed and MB smoke grenade launchers mounted as a row across the turret front. There are further sub-marks for small armour changes.

T-72AK (1979)

Command version, fitted with additional radios, these change depending on the rank of commander

T-72AV (1985)

Fitted with Kontakt-1 Explosive Reactive Armour aka ERA

T-72B (1985)

Improvements in composite armour of front and top of the turret, hull front armour thickness increased, 1A40-1 fire control system installed, modifications made for the firing of laser-guided antitank missile (AT-11 Sniper) and a new 840hp V-84-1 engine was installed. Also noticeable is the smoke grenade launchers had been moved into a single bank on the left side of the turret

T-72BK (1987)

Command version, fitted with additional radios, these change depending on the rank of commander

T-72B1 (1985)

Designation for those T-72B without the modifications to fire AT-11 Sniper ATGM

T-72BA (1999/2000)

Fitted with Kontakt-5 ERA and improved mine protection to the drivers station, other small changes include the tracks of the recent T-90 tank (was recent at the time) and a new wind sensor at the rear of the turret.

T-72B2 “Рогатка” (Slingshot) aka T-72BM (2006)

It is equipped with Relikt” 3rd generation ERA (superior to Kontakt-5) and “Nakidka” camouflage. It has a new fire control system with a thermal gunner’s sight and a new 125 mm 2A46M-5 main gun with a muzzle reference system. Mobility is also improved with the 1000hp V-92S2 diesel engine. This upgrade was not purchased by the Russian Army.

T-72B3 (2013)

Fitted with Kontakt-5 ERA, its quipped with a new fire control system, including a new Gunners thermal sight and new communication systems. The main gun has been modified to fire Refleks ATGM. Mobility has also been improved with a new 1130hp V-92S2F engine. Thus upgrade was implemented through a RESET process and is in Russian Army service.

T-72B3M (2014)

Special edition of T-72B3 made for the Tank biathlon. It is equipped with a panoramic commander sight, has increased engine power, an automatic transmission and a drive control system.


The T-72B3M, sometimes unofficially referred as T-72B4, is a recent Russian upgrade of the ageing T-72B tank. It is a further development of the T-72B3 with some improvements. It has a new gun, improved fire control system with panoramic commander's sight, improved protection and new engine. This tank was first publicly revealed in 2014. A small batch of these tanks was produced. In 2016 it was announced that Russia is planning to upgrade a total of 150 older T-72B tanks to the T-72B3M standard. Currently Russia is gradually refurbishing and upgrading a number of its ageing T-72B tanks to keep them operational and up to date. The T-72B3M can be seen as a low-cost upgrade of the older T-72B tank. By 2020 a total of 248 Russian tanks were upgraded to the T-72B3M standard. However despite all updates and improvements the T-72B3M is no match for modern Main Battle Tanks (MBTs). In 2017 it was announced that first modernized T-72M3M tanks entered service with Belarus. However Belarusian tanks have some differences.

Early production versions of the T-72B3M had older Kontakt-5 built-in explosive reactive armor. It has been reported that this tank will be fitted with a built-in Relikt explosive reactive armor of 3-rd generation. Such armor if present on the T-90MS demonstrator.

This tank has a new 2A46M5 125 mm smoothbore gun. Autoloader of this tank has some modifications and can use newly-developed munitions. This tank can launch 9M119 Svir or 9M119M Refleks anti-tank guided missiles in the same manner as ordinary projectiles. Western reporting name for both missiles is AT-11 Sniper. A total of 45 rounds are carried, 22 rounds are stored in the autoloader and ready to use, while remaining are stored inside the hull.

There is a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun, as well as a 12.7 mm roof-mounted machine gun. The last mentioned is manually controlled by the vehicle commander.

The T-72B3M has got an improved fire control system over the previous T-72B3. It is fitted with new panoramic sight with thermal vision, which gives it a hunter-killer engagement capability. Tank commander uses a panoramic sight with thermal vision to search for targets. Once the target is selected the gun is laid on the target automatically and the gunner completes al the aiming and firing process. During that time commander looks for the next target. Such engagement method is present on all modern MBTs. The fire control system comes with a ballistic computer. Gunner uses Sosna-U sight with thermal imager. The T-72B3M has got day/night and all weather combat capability. The tank is also fitted with a digital radio system. So in terms of fire control system and electronics, the T-72B3M outperforms the T-90 tank, used by the Russian Army.

This MBT is operated by a crew of three, including commander, gunner and driver.

This tank is powered by the V-92S2F diesel, developing 1 130 hp. This engine was also fitted on some refurbished and upgraded T-72B3 tanks. It replaced the original 840 hp engine. As a result the T-72B3M is faster than its predecessor. This tank also comes with new tracks. With preparation this MBT can ford water obstacles up to 5 m deep. This deep wading feature is present on all Soviet/Russian MBTs. The T-72B3M also has a built-in blade for self-entrenching. The tank can prepare itself defensive entrenchment within 12-40 minutes, depending on the ground type.

The T-72 is a second-generation main battle tank that entered production in 1971. It was designed by Uralvagonzavod from 1967 to 1973. The T-72 entered service in the Soviet Army in 1973 and was widely produced and exported, with more than 25,000 units seeing service in 40 countries. The Russian Ground Forces continuously updated and modernized the T-72 main battle tanks, producing several variants of it until the T-14 Armata entered service. Other operators of the T-72 have also created their own variants.

Considerably lighter than the M1A2, the T-72 (as the T-72B) weighs 44.5 tonnes (49.1 short tons). It is 9.53 m (31 ft 3 in including main gun length) long, 3.59 m (11 ft 9 in) wide, and 2.23 m (7 ft 4 in) tall. The T-72 is operated by three crew members. The T-72 has stronger armor than its Soviet main battle tank predecessors as well as a powerful 125 mm (4.9 ins) 2A46 series main gun, larger than that of Western main battle tanks. The T-72 can go up to a speed of 80 km/h (50 mph).

The T-72B variant entered service with Russia in 1985 and underwent numerous modifications over the years, one of the most recent of which is the T-72B3 which entered service in 2013. The modernization program brings the tank’s performance near that of the T-90A at a significantly lower cost allowing T-72B3 modernization to replace T-90A production. The outcome of the endeavor is increased firepower, a minor improvement in mobility, and no significant changes to survivability.


The T-72B3 is a recent Russian upgrade of the ageing T-72B tanks. It can be seen as a low-cost alternative to the T-72B2 Rogatka upgrade to keep older T-72B tanks operational. Refurbished and upgraded T-72B3 tanks are fitted with new engine, new gunners sight, new fire control system and have some other improvements. Now this MBT has a limited hunter-killer engagement capability. First upgraded T-72B3 tanks were delivered to the Russian Army in 2013. By 2020 a total of 558 tanks were upgraded to the T-72B3 standard.

During 2014 and 2015 the T-72B3 tanks saw combat during a military conflict in Ukraine. At least a couple of these tanks were destroyer or captured by Ukrainian armed forces. At least one captured tank was pressed into Ukrainian service and used against its former owners. In 2017 the T-72B3 also saw action in Syria.

Protection of the upgraded tank was slightly improved. The T-72B3 is fitted with built-in Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armor. The same armor is used by the T-80U, T-90 and some other main battle tanks. This armor can effectively defeat most older APFSDS rounds as well as anti-tank rockets and guided missiles.

Newer version of the T-72B3, which appeared in 2017, which is better protected than the standard T-72B3. It has an added new add-on explosive reactive armor package, which covers rear part of the turret. This tank is also fitted with cage armor, which covers rear parts of the hull and turret and improved triangular side skirts.

The tank retains its original 125 mm smoothbore-gun. However autoloader of the T-72B3 has some modifications and can use newly-developed munitions. This tank can launch 9M119 Svir or 9M119M Refleks anti-tank guided missiles in the same manner as ordinary munitions. Western reporting names for both missiles are AT-11 or Sniper. A total of 45 rounds are carried, 22 rounds are stored in the autoloader and ready to use, while remaining are stored inside the hull.

There is a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun and roof-mounted 12.7 mm machine gun. The roof-mounted 12.7 mm machine gun is controlled manually by the vehicle commander.

The tank has new fire control system and new ballistic computer. Gunner uses new Sosna-U sight with thermal imager. This sight has day/night and all weather combat capability. The T-72B3 has a limited hunter-killer capability even though it lacks commander's panoramic sight. Vehicle commander can select a target and lay the gun and let the gunner complete all the aiming and firing process. During that time commander looks for the next target. The tank is also fitted with new digital radio system.

Some T-72B3 demonstrator tanks were fitted with commander's panoramic sight. This sight appeared as standard on the T-72B4 model.

This tank has a crew of three, including commander, gunner and driver.

Initially refurbished and upgraded T-72B3 tanks were powered by original V-84-1 diesel engine, developing 840 hp. However later production tanks were fitted with a new V-92S2F engine, developing 1 130 hp. This tank is also fitted with new tracks.

In 2016 it has been reported that another 150 T-72B tanks will be upgraded to the -B3 or -B3M standard, and additionally fitted with new automatic transmission, similar to that of the T-90MS Tagil demonstrator. This automatic transmission has 7 forward and 1 reverse speeds. The T-72B3 will become the first Russian mass produced tank, fitted with an automatic transmission. It was planned that the first batch of tanks with automatic transmissions will be delivered in 2017.

Newer version of the T-72B3, which appeared in 2017, which is better protected than the standard T-72B3. It has an added new add-on explosive reactive armor package, which covers rear part of the turret. This tank is also fitted with cage armor, which covers rear parts of the hull and turret and improved triangular side skirts.

T-72B3M, is a newer upgrade of the T-72B tank. It is also unofficially referred as the T-72B4. It is a further development of the T-72B3 with some improvements. It has a new 2A46M5 gun, improved fire control system with panoramic commander's sight. It is reportedly fitted with a built-in Relikt 3-rd generation explosive reactive armor. This tank is powered by the V-92S2F diesel, developing 1 130 hp. By 2020 a total of 248 tanks were upgraded to the T-72B3M standard.

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The T-72 Ural main battle tank was developed as a cheaper and more reliable, however less capable alternative to the T-64. It is a product of a traditional Soviet design philosophy. Its designers used proven components whenever possible, improved existing components where required, and designed new components only when it was necessary. The T-72 entered service with the Soviet army in 1973. A total of 17 831 of T-72 series tanks were produced in Soviet Union until 1990. During the late 1990s Russian Army operated around 9 000 of these main battle tanks. By 2020 only 2 034 of T-72 series tanks of all variants reportedly remained in active service with the Russian Army. Though a large number of these tanks was kept in storage. Over 10 000 of these tanks were license-produced in Czechoslovakia, India, Romania and Yugoslavia. The T-72 was exported to around 30 countries.

The T-72 is protected by composite armor. Some sources claim that front armor of the T-72 is equivalent to 410 mm of Rolled Homogenous Armor (RHA). At the time of its introduction from arc of the T-72 could withstand any 105 mm munitions at ranges greater than 500 m. Mind though that contemporary Western tanks were armed with 105 mm guns. The front armor of the T-72 could not be penetrated by contemporary Dragon or TOW anti-tank guided missiles. Side armor provides protection against IFV and helicopter cannons. Later production models were fitted with side skirts. The T-72 has an NBC protection system. Interior is lined with anti-radiation liner, which also acts as a spall liner. There is also an automatic fire extinguishing equipment.

This main battle tank is completed with a 125 mm smoothbore gun. This gun fired rounds at a much higher muzzle velocity than Western 105 mm rifled guns. The gun is fitted with new carousel-type autoloader. Previous autoloader on the T-64 was unreliable and had a number of other drawbacks. Despite being more reliable, autoloader of the T-72 was slower than that, used on the T-64. Maximum rate of fire is up to 8 rounds per minute. If required, the gun can be loaded manually at a rate of 1-2 rounds per minute. A total of 39 rounds are carried for the main gun. Effective range of fire with APFSDS round is about 2 000-3 000 meters day and 850-1 300 meters at night. Armor penetration is around 590-630 mm of rolled homogenous armor equivalency at 2 000 m range. Germans estimated that the Soviet T-72 could penetrate frontal armor of the early Leopard 2 tanks at a range of 1 500 meters and frontal armor of Leopard 1 tank at more than 3 000 meters.

Secondary armament consists of coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun and 12.7 mm machine gun, mounted on top of the roof in the opened mount.

By Western standards this tank had poor night vision capability, which was a serious drawback.

Vehicle has a crew of three, including commander, gunner and driver.

The T-72 is powered by a V-46 diesel engine, developing 780 horsepower. It has improved suspension over its predecessor. It uses six larger roadwheels, similar to those of the T-55 and T-62 series tanks. This main battle tank is completed with a self-entrenching blade and can dig trench during 12-40 minutes, depending on the ground type. When not in use this self-entrenching blade provides additional protection for the front of the hull. Vehicle is fitted with a deep wading kit and can ford water obstacles up to 5 meters deep.

T-72 Ural-1 with improved armor protection.

T-72 Ural-K command tank with navigation equipment and additional communication equipment.

T-72A had a number of improvements, including improved gun and engine. This tank was fitted with a laser range finder. It could carry 44 rounds of onboard ammunition for the main gun. Side skirts were added. Also it was fitted with smoke grenade dischargers. The T-72A was adopted in 1979. It was produced between 1981 and 1985. A total of 5 264 of these tanks were delivered to the Soviet Army.

T-72AK command version of the T-72A.

T-72AV fitted with Kontakt-1 add-on explosive reactive armor. This armor offers additional protection against HEAT rounds. Some sources claim that its front armor is equivalent to 560 mm of RHA.

T-72M export version of the T-72A with thinner armor and downgraded weapon systems. It was license-produced in Poland and Czechoslovakia.

T-72M1 another export version of the T-72A. Though the T-72M1 has thicker armor than the T-72M. This tank was license-produced in Poland and Czechoslovakia.

T-72B is an improved version of the T-72A with thicker turret armor. It is fitted with Kontakt-1 explosive reactive armor for a higher level of protection. This add-on armor increases protection against HEAT rounds. A total of 227 containers with explosive reactive armor are fitted. This version appeared in 1985. By 2020 it was the most widely used tank in active service with the Russian Army, and the most numerous version of the T-72.

T-72BK command version of the T-72B. It appeared in 1987.

T-72S export version of the T-72B with downgraded NBC protection system. These tanks also lack anti-radiation lining. It has 115 containers with Kontakt-1 explosive reactive armor instead on 227 as on Soviet tanks. Otherwise its armor protection is equivalent to that of the T-72M1. It appeared in 1987. In 1993 after cancellation of some export orders a number of these tanks were adopted by the Russian Army.

T-72B1 has no capability to launch anti-tank guided missiles.

T-72B1MS, also known as T-72MS, is a recent modernized export version of the T-72B1. It was first publicly revealed in 2012. Sometimes it is unofficially nicknamed as Beliy Oriol (White Eagle). This tank has been exported to Laos (delivered in 2018-2019), Nicaragua (50 units delivered in 2016-2017), and possibly some other countries, including Uruguay and Vietnam. A total of 30 of these tanks were planned to be donated to Serbia.

T-72S1 export version of the T-72B1.

T-72BV is an upgraded version with Kontakt-1 explosive reactive armor.

T-72BM is an upgraded version, fitted with Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armor. This version appeared in 1989.

T-72BA is an upgraded version. It was fitted with Kontakt-1 explosive reactive armor. A total of 227 containers with explosive reactive armor were fitted to the hull and turret. Later the T-72BA tanks were fitted with more advanced Kontakt-5 armor. So the T-72BA is often incorrectly identified as the T-72BV and T-72BM. Though this tank can be identified by a presence of a wind sensor. Since 2003 these tanks are fitted by a V-92S2 diesel, developing 1 000 hp. Older T-72B tanks were refurbished and upgraded to the T-72BA standard. It was a low-cost upgrade of the T-72B that allowed to keep older tanks in operational service. Deliveries to the Russian Army commenced in 1999-2000. By 2020 Russian Army had a total of 93 of these tanks in active service.

T-72B2 Rogatka. Upgraded version of the T-72B tanks. It is fitted with Relikt third generation explosive reactive armor, that is much more effective than the previous Kontakt-5. Upgraded tanks also have new main gun with muzzle reference system, upgraded fire control system and gunners thermal sight. It is powered by a V-92S2 engine, developing 1 000 hp. This tank was first revealed in 2006. Russian Army operates about 300 tanks upgraded to this standard.

T-72B3 is a recent upgrade. It can be seen as a low-cost alternative to the T-72B2 Rogatka upgrade. Refurbished and upgraded tanks are fitted with new fire control system and some other improvements. It has a hunter-killer capability. Later production models have a more powerful engine, developing 1 130 hp. First T-72B3 tanks were delivered in 2013. By 2020 a total of 558 of the Russian Army's T-72 tanks were upgraded to this standard.

T-72B3M is a further upgrade with new gun, improved fire control system with panoramic commander's sight and new engine. This version is sometimes unofficially referred as the T-72B4. By 2020 a total of 248 of the Russian Army's T-72 tanks were upgraded to this standard.

T-90 further development of the T-72. After collapse of the Soviet Union production of new main battle tanks was difficult due to disintegrated nature of Soviet military industry. A number of parts for the tanks were produced in former Soviet republics and their acquisition was troublesome. So the new tank was developed, which used a well-proven hull of the T-72 and turret with all weapon systems of the T-80U. Also it had a number of other improvements. It was adopted by the Russian Army in 1993. Low rate production commenced in 1994. The T-90 is the most modern tank currently in service with the Russian Army. It has been widely exported.

PT-91 Twardy improved Polish version of the T-72.

TR-125 Romanian version of the T-72.

M-84 former Yugoslavian version of the T-72.

IMR-2 combat engineering vehicle.

BMPT tank support combat vehicle.

BMO-T specialized heavy armored personnel carrier.

2S19 Msta-S 152 mm self-propelled howitzer. Chassis of this artillery system uses a number of components of the T-72 tank. However its armor is much thinner.

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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.

The Global Armoured Vehicles and Counter-IED Vehicles Market 2011-2021

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Watch the video: The T-72 Main Battle Tank - Legacy Tank (August 2022).