The T-80 tank in World War III

First produced in 1976, and seen by the West in 1980, the T-80 was the most advanced Soviet tank to see combat service in the war. Intended as the T-64's successor, the T-80 was just entering service in GSFG and the Northern Group of Forces (Poland) when some of those units deployed to North America, while several independent tank regiments from the USSR itself also deployed. The T-80 saw service mostly in the Southern Theater, though at least two Regiments and one tank division were also equipped with the T-80. The tank also saw service in the Second Russian Civil War, and in the fall of the Rump USSR. The T-80 is still produced in both the Russian Republic and at the Malyshev Tank Factory at Kharkov in the Ukraine today, and is the standard MBT of both the Russian and Ukrainian Armies. This work covers the T-80's wartime service and some of the postwar use. 


T-80: Initial production variant from 1976; 1,000 hp gas turbine engine (the first used in a Soviet tank), 125-mm gun, laser rangefinder and no ATGM capability. Most upgraded to B standard. 

T-80B Improved model from 1980. AT-8 Songster ATGM fired through main gun, new turret with composite armor, improved fire-control, 1100 hp engine. 

T-80BK: Command version of T-80B; two radios, land navigation system, no ATGM capability. 

T-80BV: T-80B with Reactive Armor; very few in North America were equipped due to supply shortages. 

T-80BVK: Command version of BV. 

T-80A: Improved version from 1982. New turret and improved armor. AT-11 Sniper ATGM in place of AT-8. 1100 hp gas turbine engine, main gun ammo capacity increased from 38 rounds to 45. 

T-80AK: Command version; no ATGM capability. 

T-80U: First produced 1986. New turret, improved armor protection based on wartime experience from both Afghanistan and North America, with emphasis on mine protection and protection from HEAT rounds. AT-11 ATGM capability, new 1100 Hp multi-fuel gas turbine engine. Few arrived in North America. First seen with an independent tank regiment at the Battle of Wichita, 1987.

T-80UK: Command version of U. Two radios, land navigation system, no AT-11. 

T-80UD: Produced 1985: Diesel engine in place of gas turbine. Main production at Kharkov in the Ukraine. Standard MBT of Ukrainian Army today, upgraded to UDM standard with French made fire-control system and thermal sight. 


Soviet Army: Mainly used by several Cat A tank divisions from both Poland and East Germany, as well as independent tank regiments at Army and Front level. First deployed to North America 1987. Last encountered during the war at Brownsville Pocket (20th Tank Division). 

Postwar Users: 

Russian Republic: Still produced at LKZ plant in St. Petersburg. Standard Russian Republic MBT for tank divisions. Combat in both the Second Russian Civil War and Fall of Rump USSR. 

Rump Soviet State: Several divisions and independent tank brigades equipped after the Civil War. All destroyed or captured during fall of Rump USSR, 2010. 

Ukraine: Produced at Malyshev Tank Factory in Kharkov. T-80UD still primary MBT of Ukrainian Army. Combat in both Second Russian Civil War and in 2010. 

Mexico: A number of T-80s of varying types were left behind in Mexico by Soviet forces after the Armistice. Main user was the Presidential Guard Division in Mexico City. No combat as far as is known during the Baja War in 2010. 

Captured Vehicles: 

Several specimens were found at Wichita either slightly damaged, or abandoned by crews. Others fell into Allied hands when the Northern Theater ended in October, 1989. Captured specimens were sent to both Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD as well as Fort Knox, KY. All passed to museums in the U.S., Canada, and Britain.

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