The T-72 is a family of Soviet/Russian main battle tanks that entered production in 1969.
According to information published on December 2, 2022, the Russian tank manufacturer Uralvagonzavod continues to deliver the latest modernized version of T-72B3M main battle tanks to the Russian army despite the international economic sanctions against Russia, due to the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian armed forces.
The T-72B3 Main Battle Tank is the backbone of the Russian army. Before the war in Ukraine, Russia had around 3,330 operational MBTs including 850 T-72B3 and 520 T-72B3M.
The T-72B3 and T-72B3M MBTs are widely deployed by the Russian army to conduct combat operations in Ukraine. Citing open source information, Russia would have already lost 240 T-72B3 and 192 T-72B3M in Ukraine.
The T-72B3M also named T-72B4 is the latest generation of MBT in the family of T-72 and it is an improved version of the T-72B. The T-72B3M entered in service with the Russian army in February 2017.
The design of the T-72B3M is similar to the standard T-72 with the driver position at the front center of the hull, the turret in the middle with the commander and gunner, and the powerpack at the rear.
The T72B3M is armed with a 2A46M5 125mm smoothbore gun which can fire a wide range of ammunition, including armor-piercing discarding sabot (APDS), high-explosive fragmentation (HEF) and high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT). The main gun is also able to fire the 9M119 Refleks (NATO codename: AT-11 Sniper) anti-tank guided missiles. The missile has a maximum firing range of 4,000 and can destroy tanks fitted with explosive reactive armor.
The T-72B3M is fitted with a new sight system with digital displays as well as a rearview camera. The tank is fitted with a new armor package Relikt mounted on the side of the hull. The Relik is the most modern ERA (Explosive Reactive Armor) developed by the Russian defense industry. It is claimed to be twice as effective as the previous Kontakt-5 ERA. The Relikt ERA has been known to be able to defeat the M1A2 Abrams’ M829A3 Depleted Uranium APFSDS, nicknamed “super sabot” with a segmented penetrator which was meant to counter the Kontact-5 ERA.
The T-72B3M is also equipped with a new 125 mm cannon with increased barrel survivability, a new R-168-25U-2 Akveduk VHF radio station, new fire-fighting equipment, and a Sosna-U multi-channel gunner’s sight.