A Ukrainian 2017-version T-64 battle tank drives across a training range during a demonstration.
The Lviv Armored Tank Factory, part of Ukraine’s state-run defense giant UkrOboronProm, has launched the serial modernization of T-64 tanks, the UkrOboronProm press service said on Aug. 12.
The tanks, which are the most common workhorse of Ukraine’s armored power, will be upgraded to the 2017 model featuring new thermal vision equipment, digital radio communication and satellite navigation systems, as well as new explosive-reactive armor.
The legendary Soviet-designed tanks have a 55-year history. Now, they are getting modern sight systems to ensure sharp and accurate target acquisition and destruction with the vehicle’s 125-millimeter cannon in all meteorological conditions and at all times of day.
“At the same time, (the crews) will get new night vision scopes featuring 3rd-generation electronic-optical inverters,” UkrOboronProm said.
“This equipment is highly resistant to infrared band jamming by the enemy. Other than that, it is installed on the tank’s built-in bracing and is plugged into its electrical grid without altering (the vehicle). This allows us to drastically decrease the time and resources spent on integrating the equipment into the vehicles’s systems.”
The 2017 T-64s model is also protected with more effective reactive armor that significantly reduces damage to the vehicle by detonating toward an inbound projectile during the projectile’s impact and therefore diminishing the object’s striking force.
The new armor is capable of withstanding all modern anti-tank weapons, including high-explosive and armor piercing shells, and explosively formed penetrators.
The version also features a satellite navigation system developed by the Orizon-Navigatsiya company, also part of UkrOboronProm.
“This navigation system functions as an automatized digital system, which allows for ensuring highly-protected online communications. Data on each vehicle’s location can be transferred to commanders at all levels starting from a platoon leader to operational command.”
“The tanks are also equipped with new digital Lybid K-2RB radio sets, ensuring fail-proof radio contact protected from jamming and interception at a distance of up to 70 kilometers.”
Earlier, T-64 tanks were only modernized to the 2017 version by the Kharkiv Armored Tank Factory, the tank’s original producer, which, according to UkrOboronProm, has already upgraded nearly 150 vehicles.
The Soviet Armed Forces launched the T-64 family of tanks into active service as far back as 1964. Since then, the tanks have seen numerous modifications. Thanks to the T-64’s versatility in combat and easier technical maintenance, the tank remain a proven workhorse for many militaries, including Ukraine’s.
With the outbreak of Russia’s war in Donbas, Ukraine lost access to technical facilities to upgrade its T-72 tanks originally produced and maintained in Russia. For that reason, the Ukrainian military concentrated on T-64 tanks that could be supported and modernized in Kharkiv to become the bulk of the country’s armored power.
According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a Britain-based think tank, Ukraine’s military currently has nearly 710 working T-64 tanks, including T-64BV and T-64BM Bulat modifications, and also 588 old T-64 in storage.
According to UkrOboronProm, the combined productive capacities of the two tank factories in Kharkiv and Lviv could seriously boost the rearmament of the country’s Armed Forces.
“With stable contract order and finance (from the government), it would be possible to modernize all T-64s (operated by the Armed Forces) in the nearest future,” the defense giant said.