The idea of creating a special combat vehicle with a variety of missile-gun and small-arms weapons on board appeared a few decades ago and was proposed in the context of increasing the firepower of motorized rifle subunits. Initially, this technique was considered as a kind of addition to the infantry fighting vehicles, and in addition, the possibility of equipping the latter with a reinforced armament complex was studied.
In the mid-eighties, taking into account the experience of hostilities in Afghanistan, the Soviet Ministry of Defense issued a technical task for a new model of armored vehicles that could use different weapon and hit a wide range of targets. By the end of the decade, several enterprises had developed and built a number of experienced armored vehicles that met the existing requirements. Technique passed part of the test, but the collapse of the Soviet Union and the problems that followed it did not allow to complete the work. The development of the theme of tank support vehicles stopped for several years.
It should be noted that the modern appearance of the BMPT was then far away. In addition, at that time there was no concept of a tank support vehicle itself. In this regard, this technique is often referred to as multi-purpose combat vehicles. The current term appeared much later, after the development of a number of projects.
One of the developers of BMPT / MBM in the late eighties was the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant. It was this company that later decided to revive the abandoned direction and proposed another project. In 1995, the plant, which survived a series of transformations, came up with an interesting proposal. In connection with the outbreak of hostilities in Chechnya, the company decided to create a new armored combat vehicle with the highest possible firepower capable of solving various combat missions.
The new project was launched on the initiative of the management of the enterprise, without an order from the military department. The necessary work was proposed at the expense of the plant, in the absence of financial support from the state. Such an approach made it possible to create a new project even under the difficult conditions of the mid-nineties, when the defense budget did not allow launching the development of promising technology.
The design of the new machine was entrusted to the Head Special Design Bureau No. XXUMX from ChTZ. The work was conducted under the control of the bureau director A.V. Yermolin. In just a few months, Chelyabinsk experts formed the optimal look of technology, taking into account technical, economic and combat factors. Already in 2, the tractor plant began building a prototype.
In accordance with the existing nomenclature specifying designations of projects and experimental equipment, the new development was called the “787 Object”. In addition, soon the most interesting sample received the additional name "Viper". As far as is known, this name was associated with the features of the armament complex. It was proposed to equip the prospective BMPT with two cannon-machine-gun blocks, which reminded someone of a forked serpent "sting".
General view of the car, armament raised at a large angle. Photo Russianarms.ru
In order to simplify and cheapen the development and production of new equipment, it was decided to use a ready-made base machine. As a basis for the "Object 787" chose the serial main battle tank T-72. During the construction of the experimental "Viper" machine was used modifications T-72AB. Under the new project, it was planned to remove from the tank all existing weapons and related equipment. Instead, they planned to install new systems, weapons, means of protection, etc. According to the results of such a restructuring, the tank had to turn into a multi-purpose vehicle capable of supporting infantry and armored vehicles, fighting in different landscapes and effectively attacking various enemy targets.
The project "Viper" did not provide for the processing of the existing tank chassis. It was proposed to keep the serial armor case with a combined frontal projection protection, built according to the classic layout. Since the new project proposed to use the T-72AB tank, the hull's own armor was complemented by dynamic protection of the “Contact-1” type. The blocks of this system were placed on the frontal parts of the hull, on the side screens and on the main components of the tower.
The BMPT "Object 787" retained the B-46-6 diesel engine with an 780 horsepower, coupled with a mechanical transmission. The chassis is not changed. In its composition there were six support rollers of average diameter on each side mounted on a torsion bar suspension. In the front of the hull were placed the guide wheels with a caterpillar tension mechanism, in the stern - leading ones. It was assumed that the new armored vehicle in terms of mobility will not differ from the serial tank.
The most serious changes in the new project underwent a fighting compartment. Actually, only the armored dome of the turret, the turret basket, and horizontal guidance drives remained. The main 125-mm gun was removed, and its embrasure was sealed with a protected cap. On the sides of the hull large protruding box-shaped housings appeared, inside which the new armament was to be placed. These units were made of armor steel and were additionally covered with dynamic protection units. A large armored box was installed at the stern of the turret, which served as the ammunition of the guns. With the help of a simple system of guides, which had in its composition a pair of rigid tunnels, the tape with projectiles was to be supplied to the side units with weapons.
"Viper" during storage. Photo Bastion-karpenko.ru
All weapons of the “Object 787” were assembled on two onboard units and mounted on installations of similar design. The right and left onboard installation represented a mirror copy of each other and had the same composition of aggregates. On a common support device, which was based on a cylindrical unit, an automatic gun and a paired machine gun were fixed. Next to them was pivotally mounted a package of guides for unguided rockets. The gun and machine gun, equipped with protective devices, were placed closer to the dome of the tower. Outside fixed package guides.
According to some information, the multi-purpose vehicle had the possibility of separately pointing weapons from different sides. However, this information is not true. Horizontal targeting of all weapons was carried out by turning the tower. For vertical guidance, appropriate drives were used, simultaneously raising or lowering all airborne armament. Synchronous movement of cannon-machine-gun systems was carried out using a transverse shaft, held over the aft of the tower.
The main barrel weapon "Viper" were two automatic guns 2А72. 30-mm guns with tape ammunition could fire at a rate of up to a minute per minute of 300-350, hitting targets at ranges up to 4 km. For attack by manpower, unprotected vehicles, etc. It was proposed to use two 7,62-mm PKT machine guns, which are induced along with the guns. According to some reports, the two cannon-machine gun installations were complemented by turrets. In the aft part of the tower, the installation of two large-caliber machine guns NSV was envisaged.
To significantly increase firepower at medium ranges, it was proposed to equip the 787 Object with its own launchers for unguided missiles. On each side of the tower was placed in one block with six tubular launch rails (three horizontal rows of two). The rear parts of the guides were fixed inside the rectangular casing-holder. The guide blocks had drives for vertical guidance, synchronized with the devices of the receiver systems.
During storage, the prototype was adversely affected. Photo Bastion-karpenko.ru
According to open sources, the combat vehicle was supposed to use uncontrollable aviation missiles, the type of which, however, is not specified. Based on the proportions, it can be assumed that the launch guides had a caliber of 80 mm and should have been used with missiles of the S-8 family. Thus, in theory, using the Viper missile system, it could attack targets at ranges up to 2 km and hit them with different types of warheads: high-explosive fragmentation, cumulative, concrete-piercing, etc.
In an emergency, the tank support fighting vehicle could use smoke grenade launchers. Two units of such weapons of four products each were installed in front of the onboard units of the tower. Smoke grenades were to be fired up and forward relative to the axis of the tower.
In order to control the new weapons, the 787 Object received a set of optical-electronic systems, partly based on instruments of serial tanks, but adapted for use with other weapons. In front of the tower, the characteristic protruding box of the gunner’s optical instruments remained. In addition to the means of guidance, the tower retained surveillance devices located on the commander's cupola.
The crew of the prospective model consisted of only three people: the driver, the gunner and the commander. The driver was placed in a regular place inside the hull and had its own hatch with a viewing device. The places of the commander and the gunner were in the turret, at the left and right sides, respectively. Above them remained their own hatches in the roof. Both control posts in the combat compartment made it possible to observe and attack targets with the aid of existing weapons.
The new BMPT was built on the basis of a serial tank by removing some units and installing others. As a result, in terms of its size and mass, the “787 Object” hardly differed from the base T-72AB. The length of the armored car body did not exceed 6,7 m, width - 3,5 m, height - no more than 2,2 m. Combat weight - no more than 42-45 t. Mobility indicators should have remained at the level of the T-72 family of vehicles.
It is known that in 1996, the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant rebuilt the serial main tank T-72AB into a prototype of the “787 Object”. Soon this car came to the site for carrying out factory tests. Later, probably, after the elimination of minor shortcomings, the prototype was presented to the specialists of the Ministry of Defense. In the spring of the next 1997, a demonstration and testing of equipment took place with the participation of army representatives.
At the beginning of April, the CTN and the 1997 research institute of armored vehicles conducted a series of tests on 38. After checking the running characteristics, the process of studying the armament complex started. As part of the spring tests, the military checked the work of cannons and machine guns during daylight hours. Shooting was conducted both from a place, and on the move. The distances to the targets corresponded to the peculiarities of the real battles in different conditions. Experienced "Viper" coped with the first part of the fire tests.
In July, new checks began. Now tested under the missile armament of a combat vehicle. Again, the test crew had to solve various fire missions and hit targets in the entire range of allowable ranges.
During the two stages of fire tests, the prototype of the 787 Object proved to be the best. The presence of four machine guns of different caliber, two guns, unguided rockets and smoke grenade launchers made it possible to choose the most effective weapon in the current situation and use it to hit an existing target. The high-ranking representatives of the military department, who left the best reviews about the car they saw, attended the tests.
Having received the unofficial approval of a potential customer, the development plant decided to start promoting its multi-purpose combat vehicle. Soon the general public learned about the existence of the "Viper". A promising model was the subject of publications in print, radio programs and television stories. In not the easiest period of modern stories people had reason to pride in their industry and reasons for restrained optimism.
However, this optimistic situation did not last too long. Television and radio programs about the “787 Object” attracted the attention of controlling structures, who saw in them not familiarizing the population with the latest achievements of the defense industry, but a violation of secrecy. The result was the launch of a special investigation, during which it was planned to identify and punish violators.
According to the results of the investigation, certain conclusions were made, including the most unpleasant ones. GSKB-2 received an order to stop all work on the "Viper". The development of the project was canceled. Also, it was necessary to stop the testing and fine-tuning of the finished prototype. Such a decision actually put an end not only on the “Object 787” project, but also on the whole direction of multi-purpose combat vehicles / tank support vehicles, since other developments of this kind were absent at that time and were not even planned.
The tests of the prototype were carried out at the test site of the 38-nd Research Institute for Nuclear Power Engineering in Kubinka, where it could remain until the order to stop work appeared. The car removed from the tests was soon sent to one of the storage sites at the test site. Over the next two decades, a unique model of armored vehicles stood in the open and was exposed to the negative impact of natural factors. In addition, according to rumors, the status of the car in the worst way affected the activities of dubious individuals who appropriated some of the details.
In the spring of 2017, it was decided to save the Viper from rust and oblivion. An interesting test vehicle was sent to the Patriot Restoration Workshop. According to the restoration participants, even after two decades of inactivity, the prototype had a good condition: after installing the batteries and refueling, it started up and then was able to get to the repair site on its own. Over the next few months, the “787 Object” was under restoration, during which the lost components were returned, the readiness of existing systems was restored, and so on.
Multipurpose combat vehicle "Object 787" again on the go and now can boast an excellent appearance. In the near future, a unique sample will be another exhibit from the exhibition of domestic armored vehicles of the Patriot fleet. As far as we know, at the present time, specialists are engaged in the restoration of several other experimental machines of a similar purpose, created in the eighties of the last century.
The design of the tank support vehicle “Object 787” was notable for its specific fate. Its development began at a difficult time and was carried out on its own initiative. Later, the prototype came to the test and was able to interest a potential customer. However, very strange events occurred later, according to the results of which the project was closed, the possible mass production was finally canceled, and the only prototype was sent to storage without any prospects. The army could not get the necessary equipment for it. Fortunately, the unique prototype managed to be maintained in an acceptable condition, and then restored. In the near future, everyone will be able to see it.
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