Ukraine is receiving M1 Abrams tanks, German-built Leopards, British Challenger 2s, and a range of allied-supplied armored combat vehicles.
Yet, the country does also operate a small number of its own Soviet-era T-84 main battle tanks.
It may not be clear exactly how many T-84s Ukraine operates or how much they have been upgraded and maintained and modernized.
Available information on the tank describes it as a fast tank, driven by a high-performance piston engine with a power-to-weight ratio of roughly 26 horsepower per tonne. The T-84 is a main battle tank variant based upon the Soviet-built diesel-engine T-80.
T-84 Oplot Upgraded
Ukraine does operate an advanced variant known as the T-84 Oplot, which incorporates an armored ammunition compartment in a new turret bustle. However, only 10 of these were reported to have entered service in 2001. The Oplot fires a 125mm smoothbore cannon, coaxial machine gun, and anti-aircraft machine gun.
The platform also fires a laser-guided missile against ground vehicles and helicopters out to ranges of 5,000m. The cannon’s ammunition is fairly standard, as it is listed as including High Explosive Fragmentation rounds, armor-piercing rounds, anti-tank rounds, and kinetic energy penetrators.
Looking beyond some of these available specs, it seems unclear just how much of an impact these T-84 tanks may have, apart from bringing advanced speed to high-powered armored attacks.
Should Ukrainian armored assault forces seek to break through Russian defenses and advance into territory previously held by Russia, an ability to move armored attack vehicles at higher speeds could prove decisive.
Also, the presence of a laser-guided missile able to attack enemy tanks and helicopters, particularly if upgraded and maintained, could bring a unique air-defense component to a main battle tank. A tank able to target, track, pinpoint, and destroy enemy helicopters could prove extremely impactful in any armored assault.
Speed of attack and an anti-air ability could prove critical for Ukrainians as they are operating at a massive tank deficit. Although Russia is reported to have lost nearly half of its tank force due to Ukrainian anti-armor attacks, Global Firepower.com does show a massive discrepancy in tank force size between Russia and Ukraine.
Ukraine is listed as only operating 1,890 main battle tanks, whereas Russia is slated to operate 12,566 tanks. For this reason, having faster tanks such as the T-84 armed with laser-guided precision missiles could give Ukraine the edge it needs to break through and advance upon larger Russian formations.
These things considered, cutting-edge ammunition, laser-guided missiles, and even speed will only help to a point if a tank is not also equipped with high-resolution, long-range thermal sights to identify targets and attack enemies at stand-off ranges.
Speed would be extremely impactful should the T-84 also operate with a commensurate ability to target Russian tanks with high fidelity from tactically relevant ranges.
Kris Osborn is the Military Affairs Editor of 19FortyFive and President of Warrior Maven – Center for Military Modernization. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.
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