Sadly, Ukraine does not have a lot of T-84 Main Battle Tanks: Last month, it was reported that Slovenia would provide its fleet of M-84 main battle tanks (MBTs) to Ukraine, and in exchange receive the Leopard MBT or Marder tracked armored infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) from Germany. The M-84 is a Yugoslavian-made version of the third generation Soviet-era T-72 that features several new improvements for the Yugoslav Army during the late stages of the Cold War.
Slovenia, which was part of Yugoslavia until the early 1990s, reportedly operates around fourteen of the M-84 MBTs and has an additional thirty-two in its stores. The M-84’s design is similar to the Soviet-made T-72, and includes three compartments with the driver position located at the center front of the hull. The tanks are also equipped with an upgraded fire-control system.
Ukraine already has a sizeable fleet of T-72 MBTs, and facilities to keep the tanks running.
M-84s to Be Used Alongside the T-84s
Where things could get a little confusing is that Ukraine also operates its domestically-developed T-84 MBT. Its development grew out of the T-80UD program in the 1980s. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine was left with thousands of T-80 tank platforms in the city of Kharkiv, which gave the newly independent state the ability to produce hundreds of modernized main battle tanks. However, it also left the government in Kyiv with hulks of tanks that relied on equipment from the Russian Federation.
Ukrainian tank designer KMDB sought to address this problem by creating a new, all-Ukrainian vehicle derived from the T-80 design. At the same time, Kyiv developed local capabilities to produce a modern tank – and the results were revealed to the world in 1995.
The newly designated T-84 featured numerous improvements over the T-80 and even the T-80UD, but due to funding issues, Ukraine was never able to produce the tanks in large numbers for domestic use, and according to some experts initially, only six to ten were even delivered. As a result, Ukraine has largely been focused on repairing and upgrading older tanks, notably the T-64 – even as the T-84 has been seen as a far more capable platform.
The T-84’s armament is similar to the T-80UD, notably its 125mm smoothbore main gun, which is equipped with an autoloader. In addition to a variety of rounds, the T-84 MBT can also employ 9K119M Refleks anti-tank guided missiles, which can be launched in the same manner as regular rounds. Secondary armament includes a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun, as well as a roof-mounted 12.7mm heavy machine gun.
The Ukrainian T-84 tank is powered by a 6TD-2 turbocharged diesel engine, which provides 1,200 horsepower. It is also a well-armored tank, which features an all-welded turret that is fitted with built-in explosive reactive armor blocks, while the protection of the MBT is further enhanced by a Shtora-1 countermeasures system.
In addition to the few T-84s that are now in operation in Ukraine, some fifty were exported to Thailand, while Pakistan has also sought to purchase 100 of the MBTs. Given the current situation, it is likely foreign sales have been put on hold – and what few T-84s are in Ukraine will likely face off against the Russian invaders.
Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.