The M-95 Degman was built based on the older M-91 Vihor, a product of the defense industry of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
According to the military rankings of Global Fire Power 2020, Croatia ranks at 69th. Compared to its neighbors in Eastern Europe, however, the military strength of this nation of 4.3 million people is quite respectable. Once part of the former Yugoslavia, most of its military equipment originated from the Soviet Union, which equipped Yugoslavia in the past. In Croatia’s inventory, there is a very special main battle tank prototype, the M-95 Degman.
The M-95 Degman was built based on the older M-91 Vihor, a product of the defense industry of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. During the Cold War, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia flirted with both the West and the East, procuring and developing indigenous weapons based on technology from both sides.
The Vihor can be considered a branching development of the M-84 series, the main battle tank of Yugoslavia. The M-84 was actually a T-72 tank version built by Yugoslavia under a Soviet license.
Due to the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, Vihor was never put into mass production. Several countries have used components from the Vihor program to upgrade their M-84 fleets during the Yugoslav Civil War. After the end of the civil war, Croatia developed the Vihor into the M-95 Degman tank.
You can see the historical complexity of the M-95. The M-95 Degman was officially introduced in 1995, and only two M-95s were built. Croatia has also developed an M-95 derivative for the export market, the M-84D, with many similarities. In fact, the M-84D is a little different from the M-95, because it was developed directly from the M-84A4, while the M-95 is a modified version of Vihor.
M-95 Degman possesses many good characteristics of Russian and Western tanks: high survivability on the battlefield, thanks to its compact dimensions, light weight, good maneuverability and excellent fire control system. The tank was designed with a low profile. It weighs 44.5 tons and 48.8 tons when equipped with reactive armor. The length of the tank is 10.1m, the width is 3.6m and the height is 2.2m.
The standard crew consists of three men, the driver, the gunner and the commander. The turret was redesigned in welded steel and flat planes which could be easily fixed with additional armor.
M-95 Degman is equipped with a new explosive reactive armor package. Hull front and side skirts are covered giving that extra protection against HEAT rounds, which are shaped-charge munitions.
A separate bustle compartment at the back of the turret adds protection for the crew if the tank is hit from behind, and added protection is given by additional slat armor in form of wire mesh with chains. It’s main purpose being to detonate any rocket propelled grenades that might be used to try penetrating the weak points at the back of the tank.
Similar to advanced Western main battle tanks, the M-95 is also equipped with a nuclear, biological and chemical reconnaissance system, a fire detection and extinguishing system, and a computer based driver control panel.
At the heart of the M-95 Degman is a 12-cylinder diesel engine, delivering 1,200 horsepower. The power-to-weight ratio is estimated at 27 horsepower per ton.
The transmission system is controlled by two gear-boxes, 5 forward and 1 reverse. Independent suspension, with torsion bars, 6 hydraulic dampers, 6 road wheels and 3 return rollers on each side.
The tracks are of German Diehl 840 series with replaceable pads. M-95 can reach a maximum speed of 72 km/h, operating range up to 700 km.
The main armament of the M-95 is quite powerful. It is equipped with a 125mm smoothbore gun with an autoloader system. The autoloader holds a total of 22 projectiles and a similar number of charges with another 20 being carried in reserve.
M-95 Degman has a maximum rate of fire of 8 rounds per minute. The types of ammunition it can use include AP-FSDS, HEAT and HE rounds. To counter infantry and aerial threats, the M-95 is equipped with a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun and a roof-mounted 12.7 mm heavy machine gun.
A newly installed computerized fire control system called OMEGA-D enhances the gunner’s vision. It also has a built-in laser range finder, observation device, night vision and communication equipment, etc. The laser targeting system of the M-95 can detect targets from a distance of 200 to 10,000m. The thermal imaging system can detect targets up to 4,000 meters away, lock targets at 2,000 meters. The laser IR radiation detector and warning system is used along with the grenade launchers mounted on either side.
Some sources say that this project of Croatia has received significant support from Elbit of Israel, including Explosive Reactive Armor. Another upgrade is also planned, include a remote-controlled weapon station from Rafael-Samson, which consist of a 12.7mm calibre heavy machine gun and 40mm grenade launcher. Additional upgrades are planned, including a new 120mm compact gun developed by RUAG Defence of Switzerland and few additional defensive and Electronic Countermeasures systems including LAHAT anti tank missiles.
Despite being an advanced design, cost issues led to the M-95 Degman project stalling, and there was no further progress. However, the technological advancements of this project have been applied to the M-84Ds. In 2007, Kuwait negotiated with Croatia to upgrade 150 former M-84 main battle tanks to the new M-84D standard, and purchase another 66. Croatia also plans to upgrade its M-84 tank fleet to the M-84D standard.
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