|Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau - KMDB
|Weapons & Weapon Systems
In early 1999, the Ukraine revealed that it had developed to the prototype stage a version of the Russian designed T-72 Main Battle Tank (MBT) armed with a NATO standard 120 mm smoothbore gun fed by a bustle mounted automatic loader. This has the Ukranian designation of the T-72-120.
The standard T-72 MBT has a 125 mm 2A46 series smooth bore gun fed by an automatic loader mounted under the turret which first feeds the projectile and then the charge. The breech is then closed and the gun fired.
Combat experience has shown that this arrangement of ammunition stowage is a major drawback in that in the event of the ammunition exploding the complete turret is normally blown off and the tank destroyed.
By installing the bustle mounted automatic loader, any explosion is hopefully vented through blow out panels in the turret roof. When fitted with the 120 mm smoothbore gun the T-72 carries a total of 44 rounds of separate loading (projectile and charge) 120 mm ammunition of which 22 rounds are in the turret mounted bustle.
The 120 mm smoothbore gun fires standard NATO types of single piece 120 mm ammunition, all that remains after firing is the stub cartridge case. Additional 120 mm ammunition is stowed at the rear of the fighting compartment, well below the turret.
According to the Ukraine, a modified 125 mm 2A46M breech mechanism is used which can accept 125 mm and 140 mm smoothbore barrels also developed in the Ukraine.
It is believed that the 120 mm smoothbore gun has been developed by the State Scientific and Technical Center for Artillery and Rifle Arms (SSTC ARA) who have also recently developed the 140 mm Bagira and 125 mm Vitiaz smooth bore tank guns, details of these weapons are given earlier in this section.
Mounted coaxial with the main armament is a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun while mounted on the commanders cupola is a 12.7 mm machine gun which can be aimed and fired from under complete armour protection.
The T-72-120 MBT has been developed by the Kharkov Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau and the State Enterprise Malyshev Plant and is the latest in an expanding line of upgrades being developed by the Ukraine for the Russian designed T-72 MBT.
In addition to the installation of a 120 mm smoothbore gun, the T-72-120 can be upgraded in a number of other areas to improve its overall battlefield capabilities.
Two different diesel engine options are available for the T-72-120, both of which have been developed in the Ukraine. These are the 6TD-1 diesel developing 1,000 hp and the 6TD-2 developing 1,200 hp.
In the standard T-72-120 MBT the gunner has an Irtysh day sight and a Alis-Buran night sight but, as an option the French SAGEM-15 day/thermal sight can be fitted.
The tank commander has a TKH-4S1 Agat day/night sight or as an option the French SFIM (which is now owned by SAGEM) VS 580 stabilised day/night sight which is also available fitted with a laser range-finder.
The installation of this VS 580 sight enables/hunter/ killer target engagements to take place. A computerised fire-control system is installed which uses a 1V528-3 computer.
As well as the installation of the 120 mm, automatic loader and improved sighting systems, the T-72-120 can also be fitted with the Russian designed Shtora optronic counter measures system and additional armour of the explosive reactive type.
The additional armour is installed over the frontal arc and gives protection against both chemical energy (CE) and kinetic energy (KE) attack. It can also be fitted with a satellite supported navigation system.
With a combat weight of 48 tonnes the T-72-120 has a max road speed of 69 km/h forwards and 32 km/h in reverse. It is understood that five prototypes of this vehicle have been built so far.
Development complete. Ready for production.