Ukraine is using T-72AMT tanks – how are they different from regular T-72s? – Technology Org

The T-72 is a Soviet/Russian main battle tank, designed in 1967-1973 and in service since 1973. It is actually still being produced and is being used by a huge number of countries around the world. Russia, of course, is the primary user of the T-72 platform. Till this day, more than 25 thousand T-72s were made. How did they end up in Ukraine?

T-72AMT in Kyiv in 2018. T-72AMT was developed in 2017.

T-72AMT in Kyiv in 2018. T-72AMT was developed in 2017. Image credit: VoidWanderer via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The appearance of T-72s in Ukraine

Ukraine always was one of the operators of the T-72. First of all, of course, as a Soviet republic. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine retained a small number of these main battle tanks. They are good in a way that they only require a crew of 3 and there is plenty of parts and ammo for them.

The number of T-72s in the Armed Forces of Ukraine increased dramatically since the beginning of the Russian invasion in 2022. A number of countries have donated their tanks of this model to Ukraine to aid its defensive efforts. It might be that some of those donated T-72s became Ukraine modification T-72AMT.

Modernization efforts

The T-72AMT is the result of the modernization of the regular T-72A. During the modernization, the tank received a new observation module for the tank’s commander TKN-3UM, as well as a new sight 1K13-49 with an integrated night vision function, providing visibility up to 500 meters in passive mode and up to 1500 meters using IR illumination.

The T-72AMT also has the ability to launch the guided missile Kombat. Instead of the old open machine gun turret, the tank has a remotely controlled machine gun. The protection of the T-72AMT has also been improved with active armor modules.

The vehicle also has better communications equipment, a more powerful V-84-1 engine, and slightly different tracks taken from the T-80. At least that is how papers would describe the idea behind the T-72AMT.

Before the current war with Russia, Ukraine had a relatively small number of T-72s. These were the tanks left over from the Soviet reserves. However, in 2017 some of them were modernized and reached the T-72AMT standard. It seems that the modernization of the original platform was rushed after or just before the 2022 Russian invasion and not all tanks reached the same quality standard. For example, some T-72AMTs have open machine gun positions instead of remotely controlled machine gun turrets.

A new video shows a modified T-72 tank that closely resembles the Ukrainian-born T-72AMT, but not quite exactly:

These tanks in the video were fitted with standard cast T-72A tracks, although the pre-war T-72AMT versions had the more advanced T-80 tank tracks. The tanks seen in the video are likely Polish T-72M1 tanks, which are essentially the export version of the T-72A. They were likely modernized in Ukraine and, at least in the video, are serving in a training capacity.

Thoughts for the future

Ukraine actually has quite a deep arms industry. Just that it is somewhat incapacitated by this war. Once Ukraine reaches victory it will be interesting to see how Ukraine’s defense industry might flourish to reach NATO standards. Ukraine is already producing 155 mm howitzers, which means this country has all the capabilities to rebuild its manufacturing and development capacities.

Sources: , Wikipedia

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