How the special operation solved the problems of equipping our T-72B3 with dynamic protection

How the special operation solved the problems of equipping our T-72B3 with dynamic protection

Any military conflict, especially a high-intensity one, is first of all an experience. Moreover, experience both for the military, honing their combat skills and acquiring new ones, and for those involved in the development and production of armored vehicles. In this regard, a special military operation was no exception: tactics are changing, and, importantly, the vehicles that have to go into battle.

There is no secret that Tanks when operating in combat conditions, some problems are found that were not initially taken into account by the designers. Some need to be addressed in the future, very desirable in the near future. Others are corrected directly during production. An example of such urgent measures was the security of the workhorse of the Russian troops - the T-72B3 tank, which at first was distinguished by a not very successful installation of dynamic protection.

The first pancake is lumpy

To be honest, there is such a sin among those interested in armored vehicles: to elevate the presence of dynamic protection (DZ) on a combat vehicle to the rank of an absolute panacea for any threats. At the same time, how it is installed and where is often not taken into account - if only it was, and then at least the grass does not grow. However, it is these two factors that mainly determine how effectively the tank will be protected. And there are a lot of nuances associated with this, some of which have not been taken into account so far, but first things first.

First of all, with regards to that very panacea, we should talk about the fact that until recently, in our country, including also the Soviet period, reactive armor (one of the names for dynamic protection) was actually treated as a means of maximizing resistance to anti-tank weapons within safe limits. heading angles of maneuvering the tank, although not without flaws. Such a decision fully complied, and even now complies with the general concept of the use of these machines in combat, which can be briefly described: to the enemy - forehead. At the same time, the possibility of shells hitting almost perpendicular to the side, stern, and even more so the roof was considered, often unreasonably, as secondary.

If we are originally talking about the T-72B3, which is equipped with the Kontakt-5 universal dynamic protection, capable of resisting both cumulative weapons and sub-caliber projectiles, then for example, we can take vehicles with similar reactive armor.

The situation is excellently illustrated by both the T-80U and its modifications, and the T-90 of various variants. All that can be seen on them is the maximum overlap of the dynamic protection of the forehead, about half of the sides of the hull and part of the roof of the tower - the latter, by the way, is not from the "roof-breakers", but simply because this surface is not at all horizontal and therefore vulnerable to firing at flat trajectory. But the rest: the sides and stern of the tower, half of the sides of the hull and its stern do not have such impressive support in the face of steel plates and explosives.

Tank T-80U


This also includes the T-72B / B1 of the 1989 model. It was in their image and likeness that they adopted the modernization in the form of the T-72B3 model of 2011 - the first "be-three" that went serially into the Russian army.

T-72B3 sample 2011
T-72B3 sample 2011

On the one hand, it seems pointless to somehow criticize this whole situation, since such a standard has existed since Soviet times, what can you do. On the other hand, there was already the experience of the war in Afghanistan, and then the Chechen campaigns, when the problem of the widest distribution of portable and wearable anti-tank systems and light weapons in the form of grenade launchers appeared not somewhere on the horizon, but, as they say, here and now.

T-72B model 1989
T-72B model 1989

So the maximum overlap of all projections of the tank with dynamic protection (as far as possible) was necessary, and not even for the purpose of creating an all-round protected vehicle, but at least to expand those very heading angles for safe maneuvering. Still, when you have only half of the side blocked by DZ blocks, and the tower hasn’t gone far in this regard, you won’t really clear up and you won’t do a wide maneuver with fire without a high risk of getting a deadly response.

But nothing really changed, even though the early T-72B3s were considered the latest and took into account all modern requirements. Somehow half-covered DZ sides, "holes" in the forehead "and other delights. The Soviet standard is like that. But it needs to be changed.

In T-72B3 arr. 2016 lump a little flattened

One way or another, listening to the sober voice of reason, they nevertheless began to pay attention to these problems. And, I must say, it turned out much better than it was originally. Better is the new standard T-72B3 of the 2016 model, to which our workhorse began to be brought. He, by the way, is often referred to as the mean abbreviation UBH, which stands for "Improved Combat Performance", which, with regards to protection, is indeed true, although it is far from ideal. But nothing is perfect.

Tanks of this modification began to be equipped with a much more advanced and at the same time variegated set of dynamic protection. Yes, and with the overlap of the weakened zones, it became much better.

At least partially, the "hole" to the left of the gun in the frontal part of the turret was closed - earlier, we recall, there was no block of reactive armor there at all. And the zone was extremely vulnerable, since the steel mass and inserts of combined armor in this place could not boast of maximum thickness.

T-72B3 sample 2016
T-72B3 sample 2016

The sides of the T-72B3 hull received wide screens with Relict dynamic protection, which cover this projection right up to the engine compartment, which looks much more cheerful than the three Contact-5 units hanging alone on the rubber in the previous version of the combat cars. At the same time, although optional, the be-three boards had the ability to install remote sensing in a soft case: those same bags, suitcases or backpacks - you can choose any name that suits you. In them, the elements of dynamic protection are located at a certain angle relative to the hull due to plastic struts, making it possible to neutralize or significantly reduce the penetration of cumulative ammunition when firing perpendicular (or so) to the side.

The sides of the turret acquired similar designs to bags, but already in a steel case. The purpose of the innovation is still the same: to minimize or completely neutralize the consequences of hitting cumulative weapons in unpleasant angles of fire. This is because most of all it flies into the turret of the tank - it is located at the maximum height, and even most of the time it is in motion, exposing the enemy inconvenient places. In general, an axiom that our grandfathers and great-grandfathers brought out in the Great Patriotic War. And little has changed since then.

T-72B3 model 2016 with dynamic protection in a soft case
T-72B3 model 2016 with dynamic protection in a soft case

As for the rest, part of the sides of the hull in the area of ​​​​the engine compartment, its stern, as well as the stern of the tower, were equipped with anti-cumulative steel lattice screens. Assessing their usefulness, perhaps, it is necessary to use arguments not of a counter-projectile orientation, but more mundane: they, after all, can be used as baskets for a soldier's belongings.

T-72B3 model 2016. Visible steel boxes with dynamic protection on board the tower and lattice screens
T-72B3 model 2016. Visible steel boxes with dynamic protection on board the tower and lattice screens

As a result, the T-72B3 of the 2016 model turned out to be a tank, which, in terms of security, turned out to be much better than its predecessor. In fact, it has become one of the most resistant vehicles of the Russian army in vulnerable projections. However, a lot of nuances that were not taken into account eventually surfaced during a special military operation. This had to be corrected during production.

T-72B3 sample 2022

Theory is, of course, a good thing, but only practice can show the correctness of the choice of certain structural elements of military equipment. This practice became a special military operation in Ukraine. This high-intensity conflict was marked by the use of a wide range of means to combat armored vehicles. And we are talking not only about artillery and mines, but also about many anti-tank missile systems, grenade launchers and even drones with HEAT warheads on board. Whereas oncoming tank battles are, in principle, a rarity.

Undoubtedly, the tank visors mounted on the towers became a kind of "tank" symbol of the special operation. However, we have already written about them, including their low effectiveness against powerful missiles. For those who are interested, you can read here.

But speaking in general, the upgraded T-72B3 model of 2022 is just an example of an attempt by tank builders to correct the identified shortcomings in the protection of the vehicle already in the production process.

Upgraded T-72B3 model 2022
Upgraded T-72B3 model 2022

On the tower, despite the installation of an additional block of dynamic protection to the left of the gun in the 2016 version, there are a lot of “holes”. This is the area of ​​​​the embrasure of the coaxial machine gun to the right of the gun, where the combined armor is just a minimum in size. And the cannon mask zone, where this combined armor is not at all - only a steel mass. Both places received dynamic protection: a small-sized Kontakt-5 block was placed above the machine gun embrasure, and in order to cover the gun mask, blocks of the old Kontakt mounted DZ were fixed on its barrel - two on the right and on the left.

Dynamic protection in the area of ​​the machine gun embrasure and gun mantlet
Dynamic protection in the area of ​​the machine gun embrasure and gun mantlet

The roof of the tower is also significantly different from what it was before: now there are studded with blocks of "Contact" in general, all the space where they can only fit. They are also present above the gun, and even behind the gunner's and commander's hatches. In many respects, this decision was dictated by the urgent need for protection against cumulative ammunition attacking the upper hemisphere. Of course, this will not save you from such powerful things as the Javelin, but against small-caliber "toadstools" from drones and shells flying along a flat trajectory (or with a relatively small angle from the horizontal) - completely.

As for the sides of the tower, in addition to regular steel boxes with dynamic protection, the elements of which are installed at an angle, an innovation has appeared in the form of four Contact blocks that cover the zone of Tucha aerosol grenade launchers. By themselves, these installations, of course, can be considered a kind of anti-cumulative screen, but they will not give any significant indicators in this regard. The only question is why the boxes with DZ were not put there, but limited to "Contact". Have you decided to increase the size?

All this is completed by anti-cumulative grids on blocks and boxes with dynamic protection. Nothing really is known about the effectiveness of such gizmos, including whether any tests have been carried out on these products. But if they put it, then they probably have a meaning.

There are also many changes to the body.

It can be seen that even the lower frontal part of the hull was not forgotten. In fact, it is believed that this is one of the parts of the combat vehicle that is least subject to shelling, which is often hidden by terrain folds. But practice is, as always, something that does not converge with calculations. It happens that it flies there.

In general, we decided to “fix” this matter with one row of “Contact” - the entire lower frontal part simply cannot be blocked, because then there will be big problems with the installation of attachments. Only if you hang dynamic protection on some kind of apron. But the catch is that this part of the hull has a small thickness and is not equipped with combined armor, so DZ will most likely not be able to save - powerful HEAT warheads retain impressive residual penetration after overcoming explosive elements. But the armor action, of course, is reduced by a factor.

Equipment of the lower frontal part of the T-72B3 hull mod. 2022 dynamic protection. An anti-cumulative grid is visible on the DZ tower blocks
Equipment of the lower frontal part of the T-72B3 hull mod. 2022 dynamic protection. An anti-cumulative grid is visible on the DZ tower blocks

From the less obvious: dynamic protection appeared in the area of ​​​​the fenders and sloths, or, as they often say, on the “fender liner”. The fact that there really is a real “hole” for shells has been known since the days of the Soviet Union. At the same time, attempts were made to reach out to manufacturers and try to somehow rectify the situation. It is understandable: apart from the caterpillar and the sloth itself, there are no obstacles for cumulative ammunition flying into the side of the combat vehicle. As a result, the USSR collapsed, the country managed to take part in several armed conflicts, the T-72B3 survived two modifications, and it went into series only recently. Well, better late than never.

Dynamic protection in the fender and sloth area
Dynamic protection in the fender and sloth area

And to top it off.

Common to the turret and hull of the modified T-72B3 of the 2022 model was the absence of bare anti-cumulative lattice screens, which were previously attached to the sides in the area of ​​​​the engine compartment, as well as the stern - both at the turret and at the hull. In general, some unhealthy attention is paid to them to this day, however, already among the general public.

In fact, they cannot give any high results in the fight against cumulative weapons. Their main purpose: the ability to neutralize anti-tank grenades of the PG-7 type without their detonation with a probability of about 50%, according to open data from the Research Institute of Steel. Otherwise, including for other shells, these are nothing more than initiating screens that detonate ammunition at a distance from the armor. And the distance - within the framework of the design of tanks, is such that it often cannot affect the penetration of these same ammunition. So some things and other belongings to carry is their primary functionality.

The stern of the hull and turret of the modernized T-72B3 arr. 2022. Dynamic protection all the way
The stern of the hull and turret of the modernized T-72B3 arr. 2022. Dynamic protection all the way

Now put dynamic protection. In the stern of the tower - box-shaped blocks with inclined elements; in the sides of the hull rubber-fabric screens with "Relic" for the entire length; stern of the hull (engine-transmission compartment) - also "Relic". Are bare bars better? Definitely yes. Although it won’t save you from residual penetration somewhere, it will reduce the armored effect on the crew and internal equipment, as well as the components and assemblies of the vehicle. At least not the ephemeral 50 percent, which are usually calculated only in theory and are actually implemented in isolated cases.


Like it or not, but the T-72B3 is to some extent the champion in attempts to bring to mind and, accordingly, upgrades. Its original version, the dynamic protection body kit of which has not really changed since the time of the Soviet ancestors, cannot be called successful. Although many of the shortcomings were still corrected years later in the new modernization.

Nevertheless, only taking into account the experience of a special military operation, those changes were made that significantly increased the tank's security against modern threats. Often, not without a fever in the style of "you need to decide immediately", as it usually happens when the plant plows almost around the clock, sending batches of tanks to the combat zone. Therefore, there is something to complain about now.

However, the upgraded T-72B3 of the 2022 model turned out to be quite successful in terms of overall armor, despite some nuances. In a full body kit, including additional dynamic protection in a soft hull, it can be called the most adapted tank to the current combat conditions.
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  1. +1
    29 May 2023 04: 27
    For some reason, here, it is "accepted" to compare the T-55 with the "Leopards" and "Abrams". And it’s correct, as some correctly pointed out, to compare the current situation: there is a tank and there is NO tank.

    Good fire support. Eh ... they should still be robotized so that the crew "at a distance" is safe. An excellent means of opening firing points would come out, where someone newer could act as the 2nd number, from afar, "combing" the identified adversary.

    Better a bad tank than none. Those. it is better to have 4 tanks T-90 and T-72 + T-54 and T-62 than only 2 T-90 and T-72. It can be used in different ways: distribute to infantry, for example, to support platoon strongholds. It can be paired with the T-90 as a support tank.
    PS. It is so clear that it is better to be healthy and rich and fight in the Armata. But as a support vehicle, the T-55 is in every way more powerful and stable than an infantry fighting vehicle or an armored personnel carrier or an infantry fighting vehicle. And definitely better than nothing!
    1. 0
      29 May 2023 05: 09
      Quote: Sulla__Glorious
      For some reason, here, it is "accepted" to compare the T-55 with the "Leopards"

      Well, with the first "Leopard" it is still quite possible, although the T-62 is certainly closer to it.
      Quote: Sulla__Glorious
      But as a support vehicle, the T-55 is in every way more powerful and stable than an infantry fighting vehicle or an armored personnel carrier or an infantry fighting vehicle. And definitely better than nothing!
      1. +9
        29 May 2023 05: 17
        I would also like to know what the T-55 has to do with the gentleman from above belay
    2. -2
      29 May 2023 05: 23
      I support in general. References to the weak protection of the old tank somehow do not agree with the protection of light armored support vehicles from the same weapons.
      There is one big problem with the robotization of old armored vehicles IMHO. These tanks do not have electric movement control, everything needs to be redone
    3. +2
      29 May 2023 06: 20
      A fully protected DZ tank is even better. Yes
      No less important question than the retrofitting of DZ and other armored vehicles is why such measures were not taken before? Who is guilty? What has been done so that such chiefs are no longer appointed to the GBTU and to other responsible positions in the Moscow Region?
      1. +1
        29 May 2023 17: 41
        Quote: Alekseev
        ...why haven't such measures been taken before? Who is guilty?
        the fact that the so-called "anti-aircraft machine gun" should be controlled from inside the tank was sure even when the T-64 was created (where this function is), but it still does not exist on the T-72B3 modification. As well as there is no panorama for the commander (although the T-72B3 of 2014 had it)
        1. 0
          13 August 2023 17: 28
          To be honest, I don’t really understand what for a course machine gun is needed, which only creates a weakened zone and nothing more.
    4. +1
      29 May 2023 08: 17
      Absolutely right. I often come across hee hee from Western sofa experts on FB about our t62, t54-55 and about the visors on the towers. They laugh without realizing that a big cannon remains a big cannon and a serious argument when parsing oporniks and fortified areas, and a visor is a good defense against a small one, shitting with grenades and mines from above.
  2. -9
    29 May 2023 05: 12
    Both Leo and Abrasha are overhyped guano.
    Only one normal school of tank building has survived - the Soviet one (we will still have to look at the Russian one - when the T-14 is brought to mind and serial production).
  3. -3
    29 May 2023 05: 22
    In theory, there are also South Koreans, French and Nippons with their wildly expensive "all-inclusive" tanks. Fully computerized. But what will happen to them after the arrival of at least one tungsten ingot, even if it did not break through the armor, is a question. Or tandem ATGM.
    And 72 80 90 and after that - they work and successfully, the CBO confirmed.
  4. +1
    29 May 2023 05: 32
    Eduard, in general, if I were you, I would dedicate a natural ode to the T-72 tank. For all its shortcomings, this is a tank of war. Global, and not against the Papuans, as some are accustomed to (and for decades they have been developing just such a technique).
    He was conceived as a "workhorse" for the battlefield. And here Nizhny Tagil clearly surpassed Kharkov (and the entire NATU). T-72 is definitely the best battle tank.
    1. -1
      5 June 2023 20: 15
      It is overrated, a remake of the T-64, which at one time became a progressive machine
      There are no "best" in the full sense of the expression, many weak areas, imperfect conceptual chassis, archaic engine and transmission, problems of a scientific nature in the organization of social labor in the USSR affected absolutely all the brainchildren of this society
  5. 0
    29 May 2023 18: 39
    The saddest thing is that only in an article by a respected author, I found out that, it turns out, there is such a modernization of the T-72.

    And then you watch the video from both sides - and you go nuts from the fact that the CBO is filled with t-62
  6. +1
    29 May 2023 18: 50
    So I think that with DZ it's not so simple. Firstly, I don’t think that absolutely the entire tank is covered with it. Secondly, there are shells that can easily cope with remote sensing: shells with a tandem warhead or armor-piercing shells. Thirdly, even if the DZ stopped the projectile and destroyed it, then in order to destroy the tank, it is enough to send another projectile to the same place where the projectile was sent, since the DZ reacted to the previous projectile and detonated, and therefore, the tank is already in this does not protect. In the field, this is not easy, but in urban battles it is quite possible. Although, I may be wrong.
  7. -2
    30 May 2023 09: 32
    DZ ... all sorts of contacts ..
    where is the arena
    ARENA!!! AU!!!

    On his head is a cap,
    But the enemy will be fooled
    He will show his nose to the villains,
    And make your friends laugh.
    He will be here very soon.,
    Tell me what is his name?
  8. 0
    30 May 2023 13: 56
    Dynamic armor on the roof is definitely a boon. Under the raisins, the tankers loaded 3-5 shells into the carousel, and after shooting, they went to reload. They said that a full carousel could detonate if it hit the roof of a javelin, even if it didn't penetrate. And up to 5 shells - does not detonate. Need for inventions is cunning. Maybe the ammunition rack will not detonate with contacts on the roof ...
  9. 0
    11 July 2023 20: 27
    Vertical Relic blocks on the sides - do they only work against ammunition attacking from the front at a slight angle tangential to the side and the DZ block, or against those attacking strictly from the side perpendicular to the side and the DZ block too?
  10. 0
    11 July 2023 20: 31
    As for the uncovered zone in the area of ​​​​the embrasure of the coaxial machine gun - is this machine gun really needed? Here in this war, when from a distance of 1-2 km (or even more) a strong point is shot from a cannon with adjustment from a drone - why is this machine gun needed? He still won’t get the ATGM operator.
    Already on the T-90M, which has a remote-controlled machine gun mount on the turret - is it really impossible to completely abandon the course?
  11. 0
    24 July 2023 17: 56
    In the photo, Alexander Alov with the T-72B3 tank mod. 2022, on the sides of the tank hull, there is not enough additional remote control in hard boxes.

    And also the T-72B3 tank needs a commander's panoramic sight and a remote-controlled machine gun like on the T-90M tank.

  12. 0
    28 July 2023 14: 41
    It's amazing, the more protection on the tank, the better it is.