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Black Eagle

Prototype main battle tank

Chiorny Oriol MBT

The Black Eagle prototype MBT is claimed to be superior to most Western MBTs

Entered service -
Crew 3 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight 50 - 65 t
Length (gun forward) ?
Hull length 7 m
Width 3.6 m
Height ~ 2 m
Main gun 135 - 152-mm
Machine guns 1 x 7.62-mm, 1 x 12.7-mm
Elevation range ?
Traverse range 360 degrees
Ammunition load
Main gun 35 - 40 rounds
Machine guns ?
Engine gas turbine engine
Engine power 1500 hp
Maximum road speed 70 - 75 km/h
Range 650 - 1 000 km
Gradient 60%
Side slope 30%
Vertical step ~ 0.8 m
Trench ~ 2.8 m
Fording ~ 1.4 m
Fording (with preparation) ~ 5 m


   A mock-up of the Chiorny Oriol (Russian for Black Eagle) prototype main battle tank (also referred as the Objekt 640) was revealed in 1997. An early prototype was shown in 1999, however there have been no official comments regarding its capabilities.

   The Black Eagle is a result of radical upgrade of the T-80U main battle tank. Its prototype uses lengthened hull of the T-80U, with an extra pair of road wheels added. The Black Eagle is completed with a very large brand new turret. This turret has a large bustle with autoloader and ammunition. The Chiorny Oriol has a very low silhouette. Currently it is the lowest main battle tank in the world.

   The Black Eagle tank has a high degree of protection against variety of anti-tank weapons. This prototype main battle tank appears to have very thick sloped front armor and explosive reactive armor of new generation. Drivers position was moved towards the rear of the hull for better frontal protection. Turret roof has a multilayered armor to protect against top-attack threats. It also incorporates Drozd-2 or Arena active protection system and Shtora-6 and Shtora-8B visual protection systems. It is claimed that the Black Eagle is fitted with an air search radar, which notifies crew about enemy aircraft and helicopters located up to 16 km away.

   An early prototype of the Chiorny Oriol, shown in 1999, was completed with a 125-mm main gun. However a planed production model was proposed with 135-mm, 140-mm, or even 152-mm main gun. It would have a range of effective fire of up to 10 km. It could also have the capability to launch anti-tank guided missiles in the same manner as ordinary projectiles. Secondary armament consists of 7.62-mm coaxial machine gun and remotely controlled 12.7-mm machine gun mount.

   The Black Eagle design has abandoned carousel-style autoloader. Its new autoloader is mounted in the turret bustle. New autoloader also incorporates blow-out ammunition compartment. Its rate of fire is speculated to be 10 - 12 rounds per minute. It is worth mentioning that the most serious drawback of all Cold War era Soviet MBTs was an ammunition storage area inside the hull. Latest military conflicts revealed that ammunition tend to explode after being hit, killing all the crew and ripping the whole turret off.

   The Black Eagle has a crew of three. This prototype MBT has a battle management system, allowing to be constantly aware of battlefield situation and exact vehicle location.

   Speculations have been made, that the Black Eagle is powered by a gas turbine engine, developing 1 500 hp. With external fuel tanks this MBT could have a range of up to 1 000 km.

   Development of the Black Eagle main battle tank was stopped. The whole programme was halted due to the lack of funds. Furthermore in 2002 the company responsible for the Black Eagle's design was in a state of bankruptcy. However this prototype provides insight into the Russian tank development. The Black Eagle successfully combines all the basic features of a modern main battle tank, such as protection, firepower and mobility.

   Other programmes were launched to develop a new-generation Russian main battle tank. One of them was a T-95. This tank had an unmanned turret. However development of the T-95 was suspended in 2009. Another Russian tank project, the T-14 Armata, was launched in 2011. In 2015 a first batch of Armata tanks was delivered to the Russian Army. Its full scale production could commence soon.


Video of the Black Eagle prototype MBT


Chiorny Oriol MBT

Chiorny Oriol MBT

Chiorny Oriol MBT

Chiorny Oriol MBT

Chiorny Oriol MBT

Chiorny Oriol MBT

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