The main battle tank T-80 was adopted by the Soviet army in 1976. The production of armored fighting vehicles of this type [all modifications] was carried out until 1996. For its excellent speed characteristics and gas turbine power plant, the T-80 received the nickname “jet tank”.
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The T-80 tank has not lost its relevance today. It is still in service with the Russian army and the armies of some other countries. Even though the production of models of this type was discontinued quite a long time ago, the Russian army continues to receive modernized “eighties” in the T-80BVM version. This is the latest modification that has proven itself well during combat operations.
Some time ago, news appeared in the media and on the pages of specialized resources that a decision was made to resume the production of T-80 tanks. BulgarianMilitary.com also reported on this possibility. Moreover, we are not talking about bringing machines taken from the warehouse to modern requirements, but about production “from scratch”. According to Alexander Potapov, general director of the Uralvagonzavod concern, there is a request from the army for such tanks.
Of course, such news did not go unnoticed among “friends and enemies” of Russia. Western headquarters, various institutes, and specialized publications closely follow the innovations in Russian weapons. The announcement of the restart of T-80 production was also not ignored. Quite interesting material dedicated to the Russian tank was published on the pages of the American-specialized publication Military Watch.
The Americans claimed that the T-80 was the most combat-capable tank of the Soviet Army. However, after the collapse of the USSR, the Russian Ministry of Defense gave preference to tanks of the T-72 and T-90 line. The reason is the high operating costs of the T-80. Recently, Russia has significantly increased its defense spending due to the ongoing special military operation [a term Russia uses when talking about the war in Ukraine], as well as the escalation of tensions with NATO. Therefore, it was decided to resume production of the T-80.
Curiously, NATO and allies immediately turned their attention to neighboring Poland, which placed very large orders for advanced battle tanks, including South Korea’s K2 Black Panther. It seems that on the other side of the ocean [USA] they “figure out” something.
Experts from the US said that it remains unclear in which version the T-80 will be produced and with what characteristics. After all, the Russian defense industry has not produced a more modern tank than the Soviet T-80UK. This is the most modern modification of the “eighties”. It is assumed that due to high operating costs, the new T-80 will be maximally unified and standardized with the T-90M tank, which entered service in 2020. This measure will justify the resumption of production.
Military Watch analysts suggest that the updated “eighty” will not be the already well-known T-80BVM tank, but a highly modified version.
One of the modernization options is the installation of the 2A82-1M from the T-14 Armata tank along with its autoloader. This solution will allow the use of “Vacuum-1” armor-piercing ribbed sabot projectiles with a core length of 1000 mm. As a result, the updated tank will have better capabilities in the fight against enemy armored vehicles. In addition, the 2A82-1M gun has three times the range of fire of Western tank guns.
Another possible option for the modernization of the T-80 is the installation of Malakhit reactive armor [dynamic protection], which provides better protection compared to the Relikt complex of the T-90M tank.
But these are options. The Americans admit that it remains unclear how much the basic design will be modernized and how quickly it will be possible to resume production of the T-80. It remains unclear in what quantities the new tanks will enter service with the troops. How do they know this, especially in modern realities? Realistically, not only the Americans but also the Russians at this stage [at least the Russian websites and blogs] do not mention anything for sure as information.
Proposals for a very deep modernization of the T-80 were made as early as the mid-1990s but were never implemented due to lack of funding. The most advanced version was the Black Eagle tank with an extended base and an unmanned turret, which reached the prototype stage.
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