The 126th Tank Brigade of the Coast Guard in Crimea received the latest T-72B3M tank.
Reacting to NATO becoming increasingly aggressive in the Black Sea region, former Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ordzhonikidze affirmed that this is the “main direction” of NATO in recent years, to create tension both politically and military in the region. Russian observers agree that NATO’s recent moves in the Black Sea region represent a “serious military threat”. That shows that the Russian military needs to pay more attention to protecting its borders.
The addition of a series of T-72B3 main battle tanks into service, is expected to help the Russian army in this region have more capacity to confront all threats from outside. Joining the Russian army in 2013, the T-72B3 is the latest improved version of the T-72B, but has a lower upgrade and maintenance cost than the T-72B2 version.
The T-72B3 is equipped with a new engine, new sights, new fire control system and a few other expensive upgrades and improvements. During the period from 2014 to 2015, the main battle tank T-72B3 was engaged in actual combat on the Ukrainian battlefield. At least two Russian T-72B3s were destroyed in this conflict. By 2017, the T-72B3 tank was also brought to the Syrian battlefield to participate in the war, but did not leave much of an impression.
After these conflicts, Russia’s T-72B3 continued to receive a few new upgrades, including increased Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armor, to enhance self-defense against anti-tank missiles. The T-72B3M is the latest improved version of the T-72B3 tank family, even known as the T-72B4. Owning a new 2A46M5 main gun, with an improved fire control system, and Relikt-3 explosive reactive armor.
As of 2020, about 248 T-72 tanks have been upgraded to the T-72B3M standard. Meanwhile, up to 558 tanks have been upgraded to the T-72B3 standard. This is also the tank that Russia prepares for the annual Tank Biathlon competitions.