Modernizing a T-72 tank to a T-72B3M standard upgrades the capabilities of the venerable machine to a level of a new T-90
If you're Russia one thing you have in abundance is Cold War era tanks – mainly T-55, T-62 and T-72 types. Tens of thousands of these are mothballed in hundreds of different places across the country, albeit a part of the T-72s is also in active service alongside the newer T-90.
The T-72s was perhaps the best tank in the world, and certainly sported the most powerful gun, when it entered production in the early 1970s but is only just barely adequate for a modern battlefield.
However, give that 1970s platform a more capable power plant, a newer cannon, better sights, and equip it with modern reactive armor blocks and you've got yourself a very respectable weapon for a fraction of a price of a new tank.
Russians seem to be aware of this as much as everyone else and are taking advantage of their Cold War inheritance. They've have reported a plan to bring 150 more venerable T-72B tanks to the modern T-72B3M/B4 standard. The cost? A paltry 17 million rubles per machine – $240,000 at current exchange rates:
Scientific Production Corporation "Uralvagonzavod" will receive the state order for the modernization of 150 tanks T-72B to the level of the T-72B3 worth over 2.5 billion rubles.
Deputy General Director of "Uralvagonzavod" Alex Zharich told "Izvestia", that the contract has already been agreed with the Ministry of Defense and will be signed before the end of March.
On average, each tank is planned to invest up to 17 million rubles.
The upgrade was developed from an experimental "biathlon tank" developed specifically for the 2015 'International Army Games'. As such alongside the upgrades in armor, sights and gun, the version represents a massive upgrade in mobility as the 780 horse power engine of the T-72B variant is replaced with a new 1130 horse power capable plant:
Major improvements can be found in the hull. The tank received the propulsion system of the T-90MS. This includes the brand new V-92S2F engine, developing 1.130hp. It also covers the automated transmission control, often mixed up with a proper automatic gearbox, as well as electronic driver controls and steering wheel. The engine upgrade can be recognised by the T-90 style exhaust box on the left hull side.
The T-72B4 definitively one of the most agile T-72 versions made in recent years. The power boost is significant and will improve overall mobility.