TechUnveiling Ukraine's rare T-84 tanks: A story of rugged innovation amid Russia's invasion

Unveiling Ukraine's rare T‑84 tanks: A story of rugged innovation amid Russia's invasion

Ukrainian tank from the T-84 family somewhere on the front line.
Ukrainian tank from the T-84 family somewhere on the front line.
Images source: © X (formerly Twitter) | Reporting On War

1:39 PM EST, January 23, 2024

The video captured a T-84 tank maneuvering skillfully on the battlefield, a sight that is rarely seen, given that Ukraine has only manufactured a small number of T-84 family tanks. It's believed during Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian armored forces had six T-84 Oplot tanks and at least one T-84U that was finalized on August 12, 2021.

The elusive T-84 tanks: Armored beasts from Ukraine

The T-84 Oplot tanks and their economical version, T-84U, are the proudest achievements of the Malyshev Plant in Kharkov. Regrettably, this plant was one of the first Russia targeted in their February 2022 invasion. Both variations represent profound modernization of the T-80 tank, where Ukrainian engineers invoked elements from Western designs.

The most notable modification in the T-84 Oplot tank is the isolation of the 28-round automatic loader from the crew, though this adjustment was not made in the T-84U. Another key improvement is the ability to operate the crew in hunter-killer mode, a standard feature in contemporary tanks, such as the Leopard 2A6. This mode permits the commander, through his own panoramic sight connected to the fire control system, to guide the cannon onto detected targets independently, leaving only the final ballistic corrections to the gunner.

This method substantially decreases the time between spotting a target and its elimination, where fractions of a second could mean the difference between life or death. It's also noteworthy that the KBA-3 125mm gun fire control system is fitted with a state-of-the-art thermal imaging camera.

In terms of protection, T-84 tanks boast a unique "Duplet" reactive armor, a variant of the "Knife" armor used on T-64BM tanks, among others. The Ukrainian approach involves the use of thicker cartridges holding shaped charges. This allows for a much larger number of fragments than Russian solutions offer, and the ability to fragment the APFSDS-T type kinetic penetrator. Additionally, the dual layers of armor add protection against advanced guided anti-tank missiles with tandem HEAT warheads.

However, the significant weight of the Ukrainian reactive armor is a major drawback, which pushes the T-84 Oplot tank to approximately 112435 lbs, around 8818 lbs more than the T-90M, which also has a dual reactive armor. To offset this and maintain satisfactory off-road mobility, the T-84 family tanks have been equipped with a 1200 hp diesel engine. With these features, it seems that the concept behind these machines is sound.

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