Country of origin
Dimensions and weight
Length (gun forward)
125 mm smoothbore
1 x 7.62 mm, 1 x 12.7 mm
- 5 to + 14 degrees
2 000 x 7.62 mm, 300 x 12.7 mm
Maximum road speed
Fording (with preparation)
The T-72 Ural main battle
tank was developed as a cheaper and more reliable, however less
capable alternative to the
is a product of a traditional Soviet design philosophy. Its
designers used proven components whenever possible, improved
existing components where required, and designed new components only when
it was necessary. The T-72 entered service with the Soviet army
in 1973. A total of 17 831 of T-72 series tanks were produced in
Soviet Union until 1990. During the late 1990s Russian Army operated
around 9 000 of these main battle tanks. By 2020 only 2 034 of T-72
series tanks of all variants reportedly remained in active service
with the Russian Army. Though a large number of these tanks was kept
in storage. Over 10 000 of these tanks
were license-produced in Czechoslovakia, India, Romania and Yugoslavia.
The T-72 was exported to around 30 countries.
The T-72 is
protected by composite armor. Some sources claim that front armor of
the T-72 is equivalent to 410 mm of Rolled Homogenous Armor (RHA).
At the time of its introduction from arc of the T-72 could withstand
any 105 mm munitions at ranges greater than 500 m. Mind though that
contemporary Western tanks were armed with 105 mm guns. The front
armor of the T-72 could not be penetrated by contemporary
anti-tank guided missiles. Side armor provides protection against
IFV and helicopter cannons. Later production models were fitted with
side skirts. The T-72 has an NBC protection
system. Interior is lined with anti-radiation liner, which also acts
as a spall liner. There is also an automatic fire extinguishing equipment.
battle tank is completed with a 125 mm smoothbore gun. This gun
fired rounds at a much higher muzzle velocity than Western 105 mm
rifled guns. The gun is fitted with
new carousel-type autoloader. Previous autoloader on the T-64 was
unreliable and had a number of other drawbacks. Despite being more
of the T-72 was slower than that, used on the T-64. Maximum rate of fire is
up to 8
rounds per minute. If required, the gun can be loaded manually at a
rate of 1-2 rounds per minute.
A total of 39 rounds are carried for the main gun. Effective range
of fire with APFSDS round is about 2 000-3 000 meters day and 850-1 300
meters at night. Armor penetration is around 590-630 mm of rolled
homogenous armor equivalency at 2 000 m
range. Germans estimated that the Soviet T-72 could penetrate
frontal armor of the early
2 tanks at a range of 1 500 meters and frontal armor of
tank at more than 3 000 meters.
armament consists of coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun and 12.7 mm machine
gun, mounted on top of the roof in the opened mount.
standards this tank had poor night vision capability, which was a
a crew of three, including commander, gunner and driver.
The T-72 is
powered by a V-46 diesel engine, developing 780 horsepower. It has
improved suspension over its predecessor. It uses six larger
roadwheels, similar to those of the
T-62 series tanks. This
main battle tank is completed with a self-entrenching blade and can
dig trench during 12-40 minutes, depending on the ground type.
When not in use this self-entrenching blade provides additional
protection for the front of the hull. Vehicle is fitted with a deep
wading kit and can ford water obstacles up to 5 meters deep.
with improved armor protection.
command tank with navigation equipment and additional communication
T-72A had a
number of improvements, including improved gun and engine. This tank
was fitted with a laser range finder. It could carry 44 rounds of
onboard ammunition for the main gun. Side skirts were added. Also it
was fitted with smoke grenade dischargers. The T-72A was adopted in
1979. It was produced between 1981 and 1985. A total of 5 264 of
these tanks were delivered to the Soviet Army.
command version of the T-72A.
fitted with Kontakt-1 add-on explosive reactive armor. This armor
offers additional protection against HEAT rounds. Some sources claim
that its front armor is equivalent to 560 mm of RHA.
version of the T-72A with thinner armor and downgraded weapon
systems. It was license-produced in Poland and Czechoslovakia.
another export version of the T-72A. Though the T-72M1 has thicker
armor than the T-72M. This tank was license-produced in Poland and
T-72B is an
improved version of the T-72A with
thicker turret armor. It is fitted with Kontakt-1 explosive reactive
armor for a higher level of protection. This add-on armor increases
protection against HEAT rounds. A total of 227 containers with
explosive reactive armor are fitted. This version appeared in 1985.
By 2020 it was the most widely used tank in active service with the
Russian Army, and the most numerous version of the T-72.
command version of the T-72B. It appeared in 1987.
version of the T-72B with downgraded NBC protection system. These
tanks also lack anti-radiation lining. It has 115 containers with
Kontakt-1 explosive reactive armor instead on 227 as on Soviet
tanks. Otherwise its armor protection is equivalent to that of the
T-72M1. It appeared in 1987. In 1993 after cancellation of some
export orders a number of these tanks were adopted by the Russian
no capability to launch anti-tank guided missiles.
also known as T-72MS, is
a recent modernized export version of the T-72B1. It was first
publicly revealed in 2012. Sometimes it is unofficially nicknamed as
Beliy Oriol (White Eagle). This tank has been exported to
Laos (delivered in 2018-2019), Nicaragua (50 units delivered in
2016-2017), and possibly some other countries, including Uruguay and
Vietnam. A total of 30 of these tanks were planned to be donated to
export version of the T-72B1.
T-72BV is an
upgraded version with Kontakt-1 explosive reactive armor.
T-72BM is an
upgraded version, fitted with Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armor.
This version appeared in 1989.
T-72BA is an
upgraded version. It was fitted with Kontakt-1 explosive reactive armor. A
total of 227 containers with explosive reactive armor were fitted to
the hull and turret.
Later the T-72BA tanks were fitted with more advanced Kontakt-5
armor. So the T-72BA is often incorrectly identified as the T-72BV
and T-72BM. Though this tank can be identified by a presence of a
wind sensor. Since 2003 these tanks are fitted by a V-92S2 diesel,
developing 1 000 hp. Older T-72B tanks
were refurbished and upgraded to the T-72BA standard. It was a low-cost upgrade
of the T-72B that allowed to
keep older tanks in operational service. Deliveries to the Russian Army
commenced in 1999-2000. By 2020 Russian Army had a total of 93 of
these tanks in active service.
T-72B2 Rogatka. Upgraded version of the T-72B tanks. It is fitted with
Relikt third generation explosive reactive armor, that is much more
effective than the previous Kontakt-5. Upgraded tanks also have new
main gun with muzzle reference system, upgraded fire control system
and gunners thermal sight. It is powered by a V-92S2 engine,
developing 1 000 hp. This tank was first revealed in 2006. Russian
Army operates about 300 tanks upgraded to this standard.
T-72B3 is a
recent upgrade. It can be seen as a low-cost alternative to the
T-72B2 Rogatka upgrade. Refurbished and upgraded tanks are fitted with
new fire control system and some other
improvements. It has a hunter-killer capability. Later production
models have a more
powerful engine, developing 1 130 hp. First T-72B3 tanks were
delivered in 2013. By 2020 a total of 558 of the Russian Army's T-72 tanks
upgraded to this standard.
is a further upgrade with new gun, improved fire control system with
panoramic commander's sight and new engine. This version is
sometimes unofficially referred as the T-72B4. By 2020 a total of
248 of the Russian Army's T-72 tanks
upgraded to this standard.
further development of the T-72. After collapse of the Soviet Union
production of new main battle tanks was difficult due to
disintegrated nature of Soviet military industry. A number of parts
for the tanks were produced in former Soviet republics and their
acquisition was troublesome. So the new tank was developed, which
used a well-proven hull of the
T-72 and turret with all weapon systems of the
T-80U. Also it had a
number of other improvements. It was adopted by the
Russian Army in 1993. Low rate production commenced in 1994. The
T-90 is the most modern tank currently in service with the Russian
Army. It has been widely exported.
Twardy improved Polish version of the T-72.
Romanian version of the T-72.
former Yugoslavian version of the T-72.
armored recovery vehicle.
combat engineering vehicle.
support combat vehicle.
specialized heavy armored personnel carrier.
2S19 Msta-S 152 mm self-propelled howitzer. Chassis of this
artillery system uses a number of components of the T-72 tank.
However its armor is much thinner.