Serbian industry completed the development of a project to modernize the main combat tank M-84. The other day, an official presentation of the resulting machine took place, and by the end of the year a serial update of army equipment will begin. In the foreseeable future, the Serbian army will be able to create a fairly large group of improved MBT M-84 AC1 Chachak (M-84 AS1 Čačak), which will strengthen its defense.
According to the Ministry of Defense of Serbia, on June 8, at the ачacak Repair Plant in the city of the same name, the official presentation of the upgraded M-84 AC1 tank took place. The event was attended by Minister of Defense Alexander Vulin and Chief of the General Staff General Milan Moysilovich. The distinguished guests were shown an experienced tank in the final configuration proposed for the series. Also during the event, curious statements were made.
Defense Minister A. Vulin said that the new modernization project will make Serbian tank troops one of the most powerful not only in the region, but throughout Europe. In previous years, the military department paid special attention to the development of the Air Force and Air Defense, and now it is the turn of the ground forces.
A. Vulin recalled that the M-84 tank was created 36 years ago, and since 1991, projects for its modernization have been developed. However, not one of these developments has yet reached the mass introduction in the troops. The current AC1 project is the first to be successfully completed and put into production.
Deputy Minister for Material Resources Nenad Miloradovich clarified the technical features of the new project, and also announced the timing of the start of production. The first MBT M-84 for updating will go to the Chachak plant before the end of this year. The duration of the upgrade is not named; the full scope of the upgrade program also remains unknown.
MBT M-84 was adopted by Yugoslavia in the mid-eighties, and then, due to the collapse of the country, the tanks dispersed into the armies of the newly independent states. Over time, this technique became outdated, resulting in several attempts at modernization. Serbia has dealt with this issue since the beginning of the nineties, but still cannot boast of special successes.
To improve the combat qualities of the tank as a whole, it is necessary to increase the level of protection, upgrade the armament complex, improve the power unit, etc. In the middle of the two thousandths, a project of this kind was created under the name M-84AC, but it did not advance beyond the testing of experimental equipment. The Serbian army showed interest in a modernized MBT, and an export contract could also appear. But real orders were not received.
In the middle of the tenth years, work began on the modern project M-84 AC1. A prototype of this model was first shown in 2017, when it was already tested. Over the past time, the appearance of the tank has changed markedly, in the current version of the modernization, other components with enhanced characteristics are used. To date, all work has been completed, and the project is almost ready for serial production.
It is reported that the modernization of the M-84 on the new project will be carried out in two stages. The first involves updating 9 on-board systems of various kinds. The second one will change 12. As a result of this, the upgraded tank will receive all the necessary components and assemblies that increase its characteristics.
The draft M-84 AC1 focuses on improving protection. The tank’s own reservation does not change, but is supplemented by mounted and other devices. The frontal and side projections of the hull and turret are closed by 2-generation dynamic protection. Initially, small blocks were used on limited areas, and in the final version of the project, large products are used that protect all the main parts of the structure.
Armor and DZ are complemented by an automatic system such as softkill. A set of laser and electromagnetic radiation sensors is used, according to which smoke grenades are fired. The possibility of using active protection was previously mentioned.
It is alleged that these measures provide protection against all current threats - cumulative and sub-caliber shells, as well as anti-tank missiles, including attacking from the upper hemisphere.
To improve mobility and increase operational characteristics, a modernized track is used. The power plant and transmission are not yet replaced. Perhaps they will be updated in the future.
Measures were taken to improve the situational awareness of the crew, simplify driving and expand tactical capabilities. There is a video system with a circular view for the driver, a panoramic sight of the commander, modern means of communication and data transfer, etc.
Main weapon remains the same - the licensed version of the Soviet gun 2A46. Almost all components of the fire control system are replaced. OMS and its components are integrated into a single information management system. The crew has modern combined sights; for commander designed panoramic. Management is carried out with fully digital workstations. As an additional weapon used a remotely controlled combat module with a heavy machine gun.
Officials claim that upgrading the tanks under the new M-84 AC1 project will make Serbian armored forces one of the most powerful forces in the region and the continent. Such statements sound quite presumptuous, but seem to have a right to life. The Chachak project really has high potential and can have a significant impact on the military-political situation.
The M-84 AC1 project takes into account the main modern threats to tanks and provides for appropriate protection measures. Firing capabilities are expanded through modern communications and weapons control systems. An important component of the project is the overhaul of armored vehicles with the extension of its resource.
The exact characteristics of the modernized tank, including the most important ones have not yet been disclosed. However, the available data suggest that the M-84 version of the Chachak is not inferior to other foreign tanks made by modernizing old models. Therefore, statements about the most powerful troops in the region have some basis.
However, to obtain all the desired results of a military and political nature, it is necessary not only to develop a project, but also to modernize the army fleet of armored vehicles. Such processes will start at the end of the year and will take some time - the completion time depends on the number of tanks planned for modernization.
According to the IISS The Military Balance 2020, there are 199 MBT M-84 in the Serbian army. Theoretically, all of them can be updated on a new project, however, the actual volume of modernization directly depends on the financial and industrial capabilities of the country. It was previously mentioned that all available tanks can go through modernization. How long such a program will take is not known, although it is obvious that it will not be fast and simple.
It should be noted that MBT M-84 are in service with several other countries that may be interested in the Chachak project. So, Croatia operates 75 tanks in the basic configuration and independently modernized. Slovenia has approx. 45 M-84, with only 14 used. Another operator of the M-84 tanks is Kuwait with 150 units of various modifications (half in storage).
In the absence of serious problems of a technical, economic or other nature, Serbia has the opportunity within a few years to upgrade at least a significant part of its tank fleet. It cannot be ruled out that its ability to update all combatant M-84s and then enter the international market.
What future awaits the project M-84 AC1, time will tell. Modernization will be launched by the end of the year and then its planned volumes and terms can be called. The future of the Serbian armored forces as one of the main forces of the region depends on these plans, as well as on the success of their implementation.