Or is just the best of the USSR’s long line of tanks?
The T-84 Oplot-M is Ukraine’s latest Main Battle Tank. While it hasn’t seen combat service in the Ukrainian military, the type contains many advanced features. But the Oplot is hardly a clean slate design. In many ways, it is simply a highly advanced version of the T-80U main battle tank, one of the most lethal tanks the Soviet Union produced. But how did the T-80U become the T-84?
To understand where the T-84 comes from, it is important to understand its heritage. Like the T-64 and the T-80UD, the T-84 is a product of the Ukrainian Kharkiv Morozov Machine Design Bureau (KhKBM). As such, it draws many design features from the earlier tanks. The roots of the T-84 lie in a 1970s Soviet project to improve the T-64B: the Object 476 “Kedr.” In this project, the seven hundred horsepower 5TDF diesel engine in the T-64 is replaced by the more powerful 6TD engine, and the turret protection is set up in a manner that would become the setup on the T-80U. As the T-80U didn’t use diesel engines, preferring the GTD-series of gas turbine engines, the 6TD went unused on the basic T-80U. However due to some problems and the high cost of the GTD-series of engines (ten times that of the 6TD), a diesel variant of the T-80U was built, called the T-80UD (Object 478B). Introduced in 1985, the T-80UD was one of the best MBTs fielded by the Soviet Army before the dissolution of the union. This tank was the basis on which the Oplot would be built upon.