Russia is Building New T-80 Tanks.

The T-80BVM version represents an evolution of the T-80BV model, incorporating an improved 125 mm cannon and a 1,250 HP gas turbine engine.

Russia’s production of improved T-80 tanks reflects an attempt to compensate for significant military losses suffered by turning to updated older models.

The War Context and the Reaction of Russian Armor Production

Russia is Building New T-80 Tanks.
T-80

During the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Russia has suffered a significant reduction in its armored arsenal, losing over 3,000 tanks. This number is equivalent to Russia’s entire active inventory before the conflict. However, according to a recent analysis by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) based in the United States, Russia still has many substandard combat vehicles in reserve that can replace the losses for many years.

In contrast to Russia, Ukraine improved its armored park with Western military support.

Russia has managed to increase its tank force in the last two years despite taking a severe blow to its tank fleet. Over 1,500 units have been incorporated into the force, with only a small percentage of them being new constructions.

The majority of the tanks are old models that have been renovated. Moscow’s approach seems to focus on quantity over quality, as they have been reactivating obsolete tanks from reserves. In some cases, this has reached up to 90 units per month.

The Omsktransmash Transport Engineering Plant in Omsk has recently released an updated version of the T-80BVM tank, which includes several significant improvements. The new model features advanced reactive armor and an additional protection module for the turret, resulting in a much safer experience for the crew. This tank is part of the Uralvagonzavod state corporation of the Rostec military conglomerate.

Technical Details of the T-80BVM Tanks and Their Impact on the Conflict

Russia is Building New T-80 Tanks.
T-80

The T-80BVM is an upgraded version of the T-80BV tank model, which features a better 125mm cannon and a more powerful 1,250 HP gas turbine engine. The tank has also been equipped with a multi-channel sight for the gunner and vision devices for the mechanic-driver, along with a weapons stabilizer. To enhance its survivability, the T-80BVM is also fitted with slat armor and a modular active protection system, making it a highly robust tank in modern combat scenarios.

Starting in 2019, Russia has been delivering tanks to its armed forces as part of an effort to update its war capabilities and adapt to the current dynamics of conflicts. However, the decision to produce or renew additional T-80 units raises questions about their true effectiveness in the Ukrainian scenario. Despite the improvements made to the tanks, they have not resulted in a radical change in the course of the war.

The fact that the Uralvagonzavod plant in Omsk,  Siberia, has not produced new T-80 hulls since 1991 and the possible lack of suppliers for the numerous parts needed to assemble a new tank raises questions about the viability of this strategy. However, it is undeniable that the  T-80  was an advanced design at its time, standing out as the second main battle tank equipped with a gas turbine engine after the  Swedish Strv 103.

Strategic Implications of the T-80 Renewal

Before the invasion of Ukraine, Russia had approximately 480 T-80 units in active service and another 3,000 in reserve, which are being upgraded to be deployed in the conflict potentially. The decision to resort to old models reflects a strategy of adaptation in the face of adversity, choosing to maximize the available resources in the face of the limitations imposed by the war context and international sanctions.

The upgrade of T-80 tanks and their potential deployment in Ukraine could be interpreted as a pragmatic measure in the face of a shortage of more modern and efficient options. However, this tactic also highlights Russia’s difficulties in maintaining a decisive technological advantage on the battlefield, resorting to past solutions that, although viable, may not be sufficient to determine the outcome of the conflict.

In conclusion, the Russian strategy of revitalizing its tank fleet by renewing older T-80 models while demonstrating a capacity for adaptation and resilience also reveals the limitations and challenges that the country faces in the current context of war. In the long term, the effectiveness of this measure will be decisive in evaluating its strategic impact on the Ukrainian conflict.