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Land Platforms

Russian Army eyes MBT upgrades

08 December 2016
A Russian T-72BV MBT fitted with ERA. The installation of a new computer and automatic target tracker will enhance the capabilities of the T-72. Source: INA

Russia may upgrade parts of its T-72 and T-90 main battle tank (MBT) fleets with the automatic target tracker (ATT) and fire control computer (FCC) installed in the Armata T-14 MBT, which is now entering production at UralVagonZavod's Nizhny Tagil facility.

The installation of the ATT and the FCC from the T-14 Armata will improve the first round hit capability of the older T-72 and T-90 MBTs under adverse battlefield conditions, as well as reducing the workload on the gunner.

Once locked on, the ATT constantly tracks the target and lays on the 125 mm smoothbore gun as well as taking into account inputs from the sensors, such as the speed and direction of the platform, condition of the gun, and ambient weather. The gunner then decides when to engage the target.

The T-72B3 and T-90 MBTs selected to be upgraded will be those already fitted with the Kalina computerised fire control system (FCS), the latest version of which is installed in the T-14 Armata.

The T-72B3 has been deployed on operations on the Russia/Ukraine border where it has demonstrated a high level of survivability because it is fitted with the latest generation Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armour (ERA), which provides protection not only against missiles and rockets fitted with a high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead, but also kinetic energy projectiles.

The decision to further enhance the capabilities of at least part of its existing MBT fleet could indicate that Russia will not replace the T-72 and subsequently the T-90 MBTs with the T-14 Armata on a one-for-one basis in the near term, and will continue to deploy a mixed MBT fleet.

Russia has already decided to upgrade part of its T-80BV turbine-powered MBTs to extend their operational life, with the first of these to be handed over in 2017 from UralVagonZavod's Omsk facility.

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