The exhibition MILEX-2023 is an opportunity for Belarus to showcase its latest achievements in the field of defense industry.

The “star” this time is the T-72BM2 main battle tank. This is an upgraded version of the T-72B, which is considered to be not inferior to the T-72B3 in terms of efficiency and superior in some characteristics. The experience of operating Russian tanks on the battlefield has been carefully observed, thereby creating changes for the aforementioned T-72BM2 version.

Based on what is observed from the outside, the T-72BM2 tank is covered with explosive reactive armor (ERA) in key positions, making the MBT resistant to modern anti-tank weapons. Preliminarily, the Belarusian T-72BM2 Upgrade is generally similar to the Russian T-72B3 version. It is fitted with a new locally produced additional armor, equivalent to the Russian 3rd generation Relikt explosive reactive armor, which adds increased protection against both kinetic energy munitions and explosively-formed penetrators.

The earlier Kontakt-1 armor provided protection only against explosively-formed penetrators, but not against kinetic energy munitions. Compared to the Russian T-72B3, the additional armor of the Belarusian T-72BM2 covers more area of the hull and turret than the armor of the Russian T-72B3. Cage armor is fitted at the rear of the hull. It is clear that the T-72BM2 tank is superior in protection compared to previous versions that only integrated the first generation explosive reactive armor Kontakt-1.

Currently there is information that the effectiveness of the new design solution for the T-72 tank has been confirmed by the Belarusian Army during state trials. In addition to the additional armor, the T-72BM2 tank is also equipped with an Auxiliary power unit (APU), which allows the electronic systems to operate when the main engine is turned off, making it more difficult for the MBT to be exposed to the enemy’s infrared reconnaissance device.

Fire control system includes new sights, notably the Sosna-U gunner’s sight with thermal imager. This sight has day/night and all weather combat capability. There is a laser rangefinder and a wind sensor. The tank lacks a panoramic commander’s sight, which is present on most modern Western main battle tanks. The tank commander can select a target and lay the gun onto the target. The gunner completes all the aiming and firing process.

In terms of firepower, T-72BM2 still retains the 125 mm main gun, fitted with an automatic reloading system. The main gun is compatible with 9M119 or 9M119M anti-tank guided missiles, which have a maximum range of 4 km. The manufacturer claims that these missiles have an 80% probability of hitting their target in the first round, however, many tests show that these missiles often miss their target.

In general, the Belarusian T-72BM2 upgrade is superior to the Russian tank in terms of protection, but it seems to be inferior in terms of engine power and mobility. T-72BM2 is equipped with a V-84MS diesel engine with only 840 hp, for a maximum road speed of 60 km/h and a range of 550 km.

International military experts believe that in the near future, all tests will be completed and the upgraded T-72BM2 main battle tank will enter the combat formation of the Belarusian Army in large numbers. The Belarusian T-72BM2 upgrade package is also seen as a suggestion for Russia to modernize its T-72B3/B3M tanks, because they clearly have less protection than the version introduced by Minsk. But in the opposite direction, there are many opinions that the solution to arrange explosive reactive armor on the Belarusian T-72BM2 tank has also been applied by Russia on the T-80BVM. In fact, in terms of appearance, the T-72BM2 modernized by Belarus compared to the Russian T-80BVM has many similarities.

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