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In 1993 the KMDB took a decision to develop the T-80UD further and this resulted in the T-84 main battle tank. The work on the T-84 has been done under the leadership of Mykhailo D. Borysiuk, who took over the KMDB in 1990 and has been leading the tank design activities in Ukraine ever since.

The first T-84 prototype vehicle rolled out in 1994, and in the same year it was decided to build several more vehicles. They were subjected to extensive company and army trials. After successful completion of the extensive trials programme in the late 1990s the T-84 MBT entered service with the Ukrainian Army in 1999. On 24 August 2000 10 T-84 MBTs took part in the parade dedicated to the 10th anniversary of Ukraine's independence.

The T-84 was offered for export and was one of the main battle tanks taking part in comparative evaluation trials in Greece in 1998, in Turkey in 2000 and in Malaysia in 2000 to meet these countries' requirement for a new main battle tank.

The trials in Greece were a unique event at that time, as a post-Soviet T-series battle tank was trialled according to NATO MBT test procedures along with the best NATO tanks for the first time in history. The T-84 performed reasonably well against its Western counterparts. However, the trials showed clearly that the T-84 lacked some latest technology features, mostly in the field of vetronics. The lessons learned during the trials were not lost upon the T-84 designers, and later on all efforts were devoted to producing a more advanced version of the tank that would combine the best features of Western and Soviet-designed tanks. A great progress was made in the work, resulting in the enhanced T-84U configuration, which had significant improvements in its design, leading to better performance in a number of areas to be on a par with all other modern battle tanks. In particular, a more advanced thermal imaging system was introduced, as well as a satellite navigation system, independent laser range-finder for the tank commander, up-to-date muzzle reference system, etc.

The KMDB was making every effort in the highly competitive MBT export market. In the second half of 1999 and in the first half of the year 2000 attempts were directed towards producing a main battle tank fitted with a NATO standard armament. The problem was to develop what was a T-series tank into a tank that would meet NATO standards as to its armament and ammunition. The KMDB designers stood up to the challenge, although, certainly, this was a severe test of their engineering skills and design expertise. The work was successful and resulted in a special version of the OPlot designated the Yatagan (development designation T-84-120) and fitted with a NATO 120mm smoothbore gun fed by a bustle-mounted automatic loader. This version was tailored to meet the specific operational requirements of the Turkish Land Forces Command and, following company trials in April 2000, the tank was sent to Turkey where it underwent extensive tests in June-July 2000 under the designation of Yatagan.

The trials in Turkey were arguably the most comprehensive international MBT trials ever held and were conducted in three phases. The first series of trials consisted of four weeks of performance testing under winter conditions at the test facilities located in the mountains. The second phase was held at stationary test facilities in spring during a month and consisted mostly of automotive trials including serpentine steering, pivot steering, pivot turns, acceleration tests and increasing speed with increasing radius turning. The third phase consisted of two months of field trials which took place in summer and included mostly firing trials.

The trials showed clearly that the T-84 MBT will be equally effective in the very different conditions in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, as it is capable of performing its role in all weather conditions in difficult terrain.

The increasing complexity of the T-84 MBT design forced the KMDB to direct efforts to developing highly-efficient computerised training aids. The KMDB's first experience in this kind of work dates from 1996 when the driver training simulator was developed by using computer-based systems. In the second half of the 1990s a number of T-80UD tank driver training simulators were supplied by the KMDB to Pakistan.

The initial version of the driver training simulator was static. But this was soon followed by the much improved dynamic driver training simulator based on a three-axis motion system. In the late 1990s new simulators were developed - gunner training simulator, commander training simulator and integrated modular tank crew training simulator. All these were based on three-axis motion systems.

 

T-84

T-84 MBT during the IDEX '97 exhibition in the United Arab Emirates (1997)

 

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