Starting from October 2011, the T-72B3 main battle tank began to be researched and developed.
To date, the T-72B3 has become the standard of all modern main battle tank upgrades. In fact, T-72B3 has up to 3 different versions. The first version, released in 2011, the second version in 2014 and the third version in 2016. All three versions are called by the name T-72B3, although they have quite different configurations, and of course, combat performance is also clearly different.
The designation T-72B3 has only appeared officially since December 2013, before that, this improved version was called “upgraded T-72B”, or even T-72B1. Also from 2013, the modernization process of Russia’s T-72B began to be assigned to Omsktransmash corporation. The initial upgrade phase took place quite quickly, with the result that 30 experimental tanks were sent to combat units.
In the period from 2011 to 2015, an additional 130 upgraded T-72B3 main battle tanks were sent to all armored units, for testing in a variety of terrain, climate and usage conditions. In total, between 2011 and 2016, at least 750 T-72B3 main battle tanks, various upgraded versions, were delivered to Russian combat units or exported abroad.
Basically, it can be considered that the T-72B3 is a cheap upgraded version of the old T-72B tank. However, this upgraded version changes the entire engine, sight and fire control system of the old T-72B. The latest version of the T-72B3 released in 2017, has a better armor protection system than the previous two versions. It is equipped with explosive reactive armor at many of the tank’s weak points.
Another version of the T-72B3 tank is the T-72B3M, currently very little information is available, and only Russia is using it in relatively small quantities. Since 2016, 150 T-72B tanks have been upgraded to the T-72B3M version, which are the first Russian main battle tanks equipped with an automatic transmission, with 7 forward and 1 reverse gears. At the present time, the T-72B3 MBT is serving many countries, but mainly Russia.