Taking its roots in the T-64
The T-64 was out in 1965-68 and provoked a seismic wave in the way Soviet crews dealt with their tanks. Then at the very edge of technological advancement in USSR, this model cumulated so many novelties, it took almost fourteen years before everyone was accustomed to it. And ironically this revolution was started by Alexander Morozov, instrumental in the creation of the T-34 and the T-54/55, the exemplified unsophisticated mass-produced tank worldwide, as common as the infamous Kalashnikov… And its birthplace was in Ukraine, in the Kharkov locomotive factory plant. So after the collapse of Soviet Union, Ukraine modernized this complex, creating a lineage of brand new tanks based either on the T-64 and the T-84 and other armored vehicles previously designed here, for her own needs and export.
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The original T-64BM was kickstarted in USSR in 1983, upgraded to the 6TD engine. The Ukrainian BM2 had instead a 57DFM 850 hp (625 kW) engine, and in addition, a new 1A43U fire control, a new 6ETs43 loader and a FCS retailed to allow firing the 9M119 missile (NATO “AT-11 Sniper”) inside the main gun chamber.
This version is modernized with a 1A45 fire control (T-80U), as well as PNK-4SU and TKN-4S optics and PZU-7 for the roof HMG. The tank commander is given redundant fire controls or overrides if needed. Kontakt-5 ERA is was added to some of these, but fittings are placed in case. In addition, these have the option to receive the 6TDF 1,000 hp (735 kW) engine.
The BM “Bulat”
Started as the Obyekt 447AM-1, this tank presented itself as a modernized version of the T-64BM. After studies of modernization in the early 2000s, work started at the Kharkiv Malyshev Factory design bureau by a first batch of 10 T-64B tanks converted to the BM “Bulat” standard in 2010. These were followed by 19 in 2011 and others in 2012, for a total of 76.
Protection: The range of modifications includes the “Knife” [Нiж] reactive armor, and the “Warta” [Варта] active defense system. Composite armor is fitted to the turret and hull front, modular ERA blocks are fitted on the tank hull, turret, turret roof. Full NBC protection, kinetic energy rounds and anti-tank grenades or APFSDS rounds. Also, the passive, built-in Nozh explosive reactive armor (ERA), is fitted in standard. Active protection comprises heat and optical sensors on the roof, controls, detection and fire extinguishing systems, with a 150 ms time response.
Propulsion: The T-64BM “Bulat” is 45 tonnes heavy (44 long tons), and keeps its 850 hp (630 kW) 5TDFM multi-fuel diesel engine, which can provide enough torque to allow the Bulat to reach 70 km/h (43 mph) on flat for an operational range of 385 km (239 miles). The 6TD-1 diesel engine (1,000hp) could be also installed in option. The exhaust and air cleaner have are then modernized and adapted. The main engine is two-stroke, five horizontal (flat) cylinder, liquid-cooled, coupled with a gas turbine supercharging. There is, in addition, a planetary gearbox with hydraulic control and frictional switching-on. Performances are the following: Gradient-climbing: 60% slope, 40% side slope, 80 cm vertical step, trench-crossing 2.85 m. it could ford without preparation a 1.8 m deep river, or with preparation up to 5 meters of water.
Armament: The 125 mm smoothbore gun is fully-stabilized and fed by 28 rounds (36 stored in total) with an autoloader, included 9M119 ATGMs. Practical day range is 2,500 m and 1,500 m at night. Secondary armament comprised the roof KPVT 12.7 mm AA heavy machine gun coupled with a PZU-7 sight, and a coaxial 7.62 mm light machine gun. There is much influence in its modernization coming also from the heavier Ukrainian T-84. The 9M119 Guided missiles have a 90% hit probability (4 000 m) and is controlled by a laser beam.
Electronics: 1A45 Irtysh fire control system (FCS), Buran-E night vision system (detection, identification and targets engagement), TKN-4S tank commander sight.
1G46M sight and TO1-KO1ER night sight/Buran-Catherine thermal imager for the gunner. 2E42M main stabiliser unit, 1V528-1 tank ballistic computer, TAKO-621 guided weapon system, 1ETs29M control system for the anti-aircraft heavy machine guns, PNK-5SR observation and sighting system.
The BM Bulat in action
According to the official statistics, 2,345 T-64s of all types were in service as of 1995, 2,277 as of 2000, 2,215 as of 2005. Nowadays around 600 are in service and 900+ with more than 100 being modernized, T-64BM Bulat. Some apparently were found in action against mostly T-72s of the Russian insurgents in the eastern region of the Donbass, Luhansk and Kherson peninsula. Clashes occurred between Ukrainian forces and Donetsk People’s Republic and later Lugansk People’s Republic insurgents. A small tank encounter erupted in the battle at Donetsk airport in July. According to Alexander Zakharchenko, up to 50 tanks and 120 armored vehicles passed the border to help insurgents. On 26 August, three Russian T-72B1s and a single T-72BM were identified in Sverdlovsk by video, and others were spotted according to Reuters near Horbatenko in October. On 27 August, two columns of Russian tanks entered Ukrainian territory in Donetsk and Luhansk, engaged at will Ukrainian border forces. The Ukrainian forces claimed three tank kills. On 7 November, according to NATO officials, 32 more Russian tanks were spotted. An official report stated that the separatists engaged identified T-72B Model 1989 and T-72B3 tanks, armored vehicles of the BTR-82AM, MT-LB 6MA, MT-LBVM, and MT-LBVMK types. Insurgents were also acknowledged to use various types of ATGMs including the Polish-built PPZR Grom MANPADs, never used by Ukraine. According to Ukrainian authorities, a total of 402 armored personnel carriers and 256 tanks crossed the border with Donbass.
Sources/Links about the BM Bulat
BM Bulat specifications
|Dimensions||6,54 (9,22 oa) x 3,60 x 2,17 m (21.45 x 11.8 x 7.11)|
|Total weight, battle ready||45 tons (90,000 ibs)|
|Crew||3 (Driver, commander, gunner)|
|Propulsion||5TDFM diesel 850 hp (634 KW)|
|Suspension||Independent torsion bars|
|Speed (road)||70 kph (43.5 mph)|
|Range||385 km (239 mi)|
|Armament||Main : 125-mm smoothbore 9K119 ATGM-capable
Sec. 1 x KPVT HMG, 1 x 7.62mm KT LMG
|Armor||Composite – classified ERA + add-on armour|
|Total conversions||100+ in 2010-2013.|
Official presentation of the BM Bulat, Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.