The Ukrainian Oplot-M Main Battle Tank Is Just in Time for War

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Here’s What You Need to Know: In late 2003, the U.S. military obtained four of the Ukrainian tanks, which apparently underwent tests at the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland in December 2003 and January 2004. Now it seems that another Ukrainian MBT is back in the United States and ready for a fresh round of testing. 

A Ukrainian Oplot-M main battle tank (MBT) has come to America. It is Ukraine’s heavily modernized T-84 Oplot, a highly advanced version of the Soviet-era T-80U, and was developed by Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. It was designed to combat ground-based as well as low-flying, low-speed aerial targets while providing superior protection and high mobility for ground forces. 

The fifty-one-ton Oplot-M should be seen as a serious MBT, and it is heavily armed and armored. The tank has a conventional layout with the driver’s compartment at the front, fighting compartment in the middle and engine at the rear, while it can accommodate a crew of three. It is equipped with a new generation of Duplet built-in Explosive Reactive Armor, which can protect the vehicle from tandem warheads. Additionally, the MBT is fitted with a Shtora countermeasures system, which reduces the hit probability of an enemy anti-tank-guided weapon system with semi-automatic guidance. 

The tank is well-armed with a 125-millimeter fully-stabilized smoothbore gun and it is also fitted with a carousel-type autoloader. The main gun can also fire 9K119M Reflex (NATO Designation AT-11 Sniper-B) gun-launched anti-tank guided missiles. The tank’s fire control system includes a gunner’s day sight, commander’s panoramic sighting system, thermal imaging sight, anti-aircraft sight and anti-aircraft machine gun control system. The Oplot-M is also reported to be equipped with a LIO-V ballistic computer, armament stabilizer and other systems.   

The Oplot-M entered service with the Ukrainian military in 2009, while two years later the Royal Thai Army placed an order with the Ukrainian state-owned arms trading agency Ukrespetsexport Corp. for forty-nine of the MBTs. 

Back in the USA 

Dylan Malyasov of DefenceBlog reported on Tuesday that the tank was delivered by Ukrespetsexport within the framework of a contract for the new combat vehicle. He noted this is not the first time Ukraine has supplied tanks to the USA for testing. In 2003, the U.S. Government obtained four T-80UD main battle tanks with an installed Drozd Active Protection System (APS) from Ukraine. 

Last year it was reported that there were pictures of a Ukrainian tank with a Drozd Active Protection System (APS) installed on it circulating online. That vehicle had been lined up at the U.S. military’s Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) in Arizona at the Threat System & Target Simulation Yard near other Soviet and Russian combat vehicles. It is common for Yuma to acquire foreign-made vehicles to train U.S. troops, and it seems likely that the Ukrainian military would have provided a tank for testing/training purposes, as well as to familiarize American soldiers with the platform. 

In late 2003, the U.S. military obtained four of the Ukrainian tanks, which apparently underwent tests at the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland in December 2003 and January 2004. Now it seems that another Ukrainian MBT is back in the United States and ready for a fresh round of testing. 

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com. 

Image: Flickr.

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