T-80 Tank - Soviet Union:

The T-80 is a third-generation main battle tank (MBT) designed and manufactured in the Soviet Union. When it entered service in 1976, it was the first MBT in the world to feature a powerful multifuel turbine engine as its main propulsion engine. The T-80U was last produced in a factory in Omsk, Russia, while the T-80UD and further-developed T-84 continue to be produced in Ukraine. The T-80 and its variants are in service in Belarus, Cyprus, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Russia, South Korea, and Ukraine. The chief designer of the T-80 was the Russian engineer Nikolay Popov.

T-80 Tank

The T-80 is similar in layout to the T-64; the driver's compartment is on the centre line at the front, the two-man turret is in the centre with gunner on the left and commander on the right, and the engine is rear mounted. Overall, its shape is also very similar to the T-64. The original T-80 design uses a 1,000 horsepower gas turbine instead of a 750-horsepower diesel engine, although some later variants of the T-80 revert to diesel engine usage. The gearbox is different, with five forward and one reverse gear, instead of seven forward and one reverse. Suspension reverts from pneumatic to torsion bar, with six forged steel-aluminium rubber-tyred road wheels on each side, with the tracks driven by rear sprockets. The glacis is of laminate armour and the turret is armoured steel. The turret houses the same 125 mm 2A46 smoothbore gun as the T-72, which can fire anti-tank guided missiles as well as regular ordnance. The tracks are slightly wider and longer than on the T-64 giving lower ground pressure.

The main gun is fed by the Korzina automatic loader. This holds up to 28 rounds of two-part ammunition in a carousel located under the turret floor. Additional ammunition is stored within the turret. The ammunition comprises the projectile (APFSDS, HEAT or HE-Frag) plus the propellant charge, or the two-part missile. The autoloader is an effective, reliable, combat tested system which has been in use since the mid-1960s. The propellant charge is held inside a semi-combustible cartridge case made of a highly flammable material – this is consumed in the breech during firing, except for a small metal baseplate.

T-80 Tank

A disadvantage highlighted during combat in Chechnya was the vulnerability of the T-80BV to catastrophic explosion. The reason given by US and Russian experts is the vulnerability of stored semi-combustible propellant charges and missiles when contacted by the molten metal jet from the penetration of a HEAT warhead, causing the entire ammunition load to explode. This vulnerability may be addressed in later models. When Western tank designs changed from non-combustible propellant cartridges to semi-combustible, they tended to separate ammunition stowage from the crew compartment with armoured blast doors, and provided 'blow-out' panels to redirect the force and fire of exploding ammunition away from the crew compartment.

The autoloader takes between 7.1 and 19.5 seconds to load the main weapon (28 rounds), depending on the initial position of autoloader carousel.

The T-80's armor is made of composite armor on the turret and hull, while rubber flaps and sideskirts protect the sides and lower hull. The later T-80 models use explosive reactive armor and stronger armor, like the T-80U and T-80UM1. Other protection systems include the Shtora-1 and Arena APS, as well as the discontinued Drozd APS (though a limited number of T-80Us have them installed).

The latest T-80 variant in service, the T-84 Oplot, has an entirely new turret with armoured ammunition compartment to help prevent accidental detonation. More details