Despite the sanctions from the West, Russian tank manufacturer Uralvagonzavod continues to mass produce the T-72B4, which is the latest and most modern variant of the famous T-72 tank family.

The T-72B3 main battle tank is the backbone of the Russian army. Before the conflict in Ukraine, Russia had about 3,330 main battle tanks in service, including 850 T-72B3 and 520 T-72B3M, also known as T-72B4.

Compared to the T-72B3, the B4 version has a new gun, improved fire control system with panoramic commander’s sight, improved protection and new engine. Currently Russia is gradually refurbishing and upgrading a number of its ageing T-72B tanks to keep them operational and up to date. The T-72B4 can be seen as a low-cost upgrade of the older T-72B tank.

The layout of the T-72B4 is identical to that of the standard T-72 with driver’s cab at forward hull, fighting compartment in the centre and the power-pack at the rear. The tank is manned by a crew of three, including a driver, a commander and a gunner. The middle section of the forward hull houses the driver, while the turret accommodates the other two crew members.

The T-72B4 is protected with the new Relikt explosive reactive armor. It will replace the old Kontakt-5 system and is expected to be two times more effective. Relikt defends against tandem warheads and reduces penetration of APFSDS rounds by over 50 percent. The side skirts are now T-90 style, including the large flat ERA modules. Two light steel stowage boxes are mounted on the turret, one at the rear and the other on the right slightly behind the commander’s position.

The T72B4 is armed with a 2A46M5 125mm smoothbore gun, which is an advanced version of the 2A46M cannon. It can fire a range of ammunition, including armour-piercing discarding sabot, high-explosive fragmentation and high-explosive anti-tank, as well as 9M119 Refleks guided anti-tank missiles, which has a maximum range of 4,000m and can engage tanks fitted with explosive reactive armour. The projectiles and missiles are loaded by an auto-loader. The secondary armament includes a co-axial 7.62mm PKTM machine gun and a roof-mounted 12.7mm NSV heavy machine gun. The turret is also mounted with a bank of eight smoke grenade dischargers.

The old 780hp diesel engine is replaced by a new 1,130hp V-92S2F engine, combined with an automatic transmission system and an improved drivetrain to improve the tank’s mobility. It can run at a maximum road speed of 60 km/h with a maximum range of 550 km. It can ford at a depth of 1.8 m, while its maximum fording depth with a snorkel kit is 5 m. The torsion bar suspension on each side consists of six road wheels with the idler at the front, drive sprocket at the rear, and three return rollers supporting the inside of the track only.

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