New Russian T-80 tanks produced under state defense orders will be significantly different from the T-80BVM version.

The production of new T-80 tanks according to the current T-80BVM configuration is considered not optimal, especially when the free space in the turret has reached its limit, significantly limiting the installation of new weapons.

This is largely due to the unique design of the automatic loader inherited from the T-64. It was therefore suggested that the new production T-80s would be “homogenized” with the T-90M and receive the turret that had been experimentally built within the framework of Project Burlak. This is a very interesting prospect, both helping to significantly increase the power of these MBTs and contributing to the revival of a weapons program that once caused many regrets when it was abandoned.

Burlak was a program lasting from 2005 to 2009 of the KBTM design bureau in Omsk, which was to develop a modern two-man modular turret. This turret can be placed on many main battle tank (MBT) chassis, including the T-72, T-80 and T-90 series, aiming to replace Soviet-era MBTs by 2025.

Burlak was the result of a competition between Omsk KBTM and Uralvagonzavod, and Omsk KBTM won thanks to lower costs, applying experiences from previous development programs (most notably from the T-80UM2 Black Eagle). At that time, the Omsk KBTM Design bureau was in dire financial straits and the program was actually a government grant to keep them afloat.

The Burlak turret uses a new automatic loading mechanism, overcoming the disadvantages of the T-72 and T-80 lines, which are less safe and apply different mechanisms, making technical assurance work complicated. The basic Burlak turret form is similar to the T-90A, except that there is a large frame with explosive reactive armor (ERA) plates, placed differently from the usual Kontakt-5 armor arrangement. The ERA panels protruding beyond the turret create a very distinctive look that is different from any other design. This armor is also highly modular and easy to replace in combat, or even upgrade in the future.

The turret is divided into 3 separate compartments, increasing protection without increasing size and weight to an acceptable level. Additional protection measures include the option of installing the Shtandart active protection system (APS) from the Object 195 and camouflaged smoke projectile launchers.

The automatic loading mechanism is located outside the fighting compartment, limiting the risk to the crew if the ammunition explodes. All mechanisms are located in the turret to ensure it can be mounted on a variety of hull types. The Burlak turret still has a traditional 125 mm main gun, comes with a remote-controlled 12.7 mm machine gun, and integrates many state-of-the-art electro-optical reconnaissance assets similar to those used on the T-90M.

With the Burlak turret, Russia’s newly produced T-80 tanks will bring greater power to armored units, especially when the T-14 Armata continues to require further modifications.


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