Today, Ukrainian developers and manufacturers of defense products have achieved a high level of capacity to modernize and perform major overhaul of a significant part of the weapons and military equipment systems that were manufactured in the Soviet Union and is in operational services in various parts of the world. A significant impetus to the development of this topic was due to the need to improve the domestic army combat capabilities in counteracting modern Russian weapons systems in the East of Ukraine. In a great measure, taking into account the opportunities available in the country, it affected armored vehicles
One of the most striking achievements here are the modernization versions of wide-spread T-72 tanks, including through equipping them with guided missiles launched through the gun barrel, as well as updating the infantry fighting vehicles BMP-1 and BMP-2. Appropriate modernization packages were presented to Indian Army by the SpetsTechnoExport company, that is a part of Ukroboronprom (Ukrainian Defense Industry).
New life of T-72
So, to increase the combat effectiveness of T-72 tanks, the Ukrainian State Enterprise “Kharkiv Morozov Machinery Design Bureau” has developed a comprehensive modernization program, which is carried out in cooperation with the State Enterprise “Malyshev Factory.”
The modernization package includes measures to increase mobility, combat management efficiency and armor protection level, as well as ability to install some additional systems. The most important vehicle updating is the replacement of an obsolete engine with 6-cylinder 6TD-2 1200 horsepower ones. This allows to increase the protection level of vehicles due to additional armor plating, and through the use of active protection means, as well as to improve its maneuverability. In fact, the new power plant allows upgrade the obsolete T-72 improving their performance to the highest level of the new generation world’s latest battle tanks.
In addition, T-72 receives an upgraded transmission that increases tank speed as it moves forward and backwards. Improved reverse gears provide, if necessary, a quick position change in combat conditions without the need for a tank to turn around.
In order to provide lower thermal visibility of the tank and reduce the possibility of getting anti-tank guided means equipped with infra-red guiding heads, the body of the motor and transmission compartment is equipped with thermal protection devices installed on the top lid of this compartment.
Also, an auxiliary power plant (EA10-1 or EA8), which is used to provide power for additional electronic equipment and executive electromechanical devices, active protection complexes “Zaslon” and optical-electronic active protection against high-precision weapons “Varta”, etc, are installed on the vehicle.
However, these are not the only possible updates for the tank. It should be noted that a new level of combat capabilities of obsolete machines in the fighting with enemy tanks can also be achieved through modernization of weapons complex with the installing of a new fire control system that allows use of Ukrainian anti-tank guided missiles “Kombat” and “Konus”, launched through the gun barrel.
“Kombat” ATGM is used to shoot from the T-72 gun, as well as T-80UD tanks. ATGM gives the opportunity to shoot during the movement of both the tank itself and the target. Although the main purpose of “Kombat” ATGM is defeating targets beyond the effective range of 125 mm gauge gun when conventional ammunition firing it can be used against other targets on the battlefield. For example, against suspended helicopters and long-term fortified fire points. Now, variants of NATO caliber shots 120 mm, and also 100 mm are serially manufactured.
The missile is guided along the laser beam by the fire control system before it hits the target. With that there are different shooting modes are possible, one of this mode is called shooting in “snap-down” mode. This means that the controlling laser beam is directed above the set target, not illuminating it. The laser beam is falling on the enemy tank or helicopter at the very end of the missile flight trajectory – just 0.3 seconds. This time is not enough to put anti-laser protection into action. “Kombat” ATGM, having a maximum range of 5,000 m, is equipped with tandem type antitank warhead to defeat targets protected by reactive armor. The total mass of ammunition is 30 kg.
The “Konus” shot has a similar principle of application, but it was developed specially for NATO gauge of 120 mm.
New breath of infantry fighting vehicle (IFV)
A separate line of armored vehicles modernization engaged actively in Ukraine is the modernization of infantry fighting vehicles – BMP-1 and BMP-2. For the main indicators, this vehicle already outdated for a long time, but still has great potential for modernization. The main thing is to choose a successful option, which offers the best options for adapting the old IFV to the new conditions on the battlefield.
One of such variants – BMP-1UMD and BMP-2UMD – are proposed by the State Enterprise “Zhytomyr Armored Vehicles Factory”, which is part of the State Enterprise “Ukroboronprom”. At the moment, the last stage of this vehicle factory testing was completed at the factory. During this testing there were running, fire and other operational tests.
BMP-1UMD is a result of BMP-1M modernization, although it can be realized on BMP-2 vehicles, with the improvement of tactical and technical characteristics.
During the creation of this vehicle, work was performed on the implementation of a set of measures to enhance the fire power, improve the fire control system, improve the ergonomic and functional characteristics of the vehicle, in particular, by implementing a set of masking equipment in the visible and infrared bands, installing of navigation tools, enhancing the protection, improving the functional of observation devices and replacement of UTD-20 engine with DEUTZTCD2013 L64V engine.
Also, various turret weapons modules can be installed on BMP-1UMD and BMP-2. In 2016, in the presence of representatives of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, the comparative trials of “Shkval” and “Stiletto” turret weapons modules were conducted.
“Shkval” turret weapons module is equipped with 30 mm ZTM-1 gun, automatic grenade launcher, 7.62 mm machine gun, and also controlled missile armament, which is intended for the destruction of armored enemy vehicles at a distance of up to 5 km. At the same time, “Stiletto” turret weapons module is equipped with a ZTM-2 gun, strengthen armour plating and the similar set of weapons.
The accuracy of the turret weapons modules corresponds the new digital sighting complexes OTS-20.04-01 on “Shkval” turret weapons module and Track-2-01 on “Stiletto” turret weapons module. Both sighting systems are equipped with laser range finder and thermal imager, but use different fire control algorithms.
At the customer request, the BMP can also be equipped with turret weapons modules: “Kastet”, “Storm”, “Parus”, “Desna”.
Particular attention during the modernization package development was given to protect the BMP’s crew. In particular, BMP has implemented set of measures to enhance armor protection. In particular, perforated armored plates were installed on the individual projections of BMP housing. This allowed achieving the third level of bullet resistance according to STANAG 4659. Also, BMP received a new digital secure communication and many other changes that have made it possible to improve the defense and fire power of this military vehicle.
Pavlo Barbul, Director of the Ukrainian company SpetsTechnoExport, which works closely with India MoD commented us, that the Ukrainian modernization versions of the armored vehicles using modern engineering solutions, components and materials, allows to significantly improve the performance characteristics of already known combat vehicles. The obsolete Soviet technique gets a new breath, which allows it to successfully solve tasks for its intended purpose. And all this is much cheaper than purchasing of fundamentally new armored vehicles. Therefore, taking into account the economic effectiveness of the proposed solutions, it is appropriate to draw attention to the Ukrainian experience of modernizing the fighting vehicles.