Military Review

Modernization of the T-72 in Balkan. M-84 Family Tanks

In the seventies, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) acquired from the Soviet Union a license to manufacture basic tanks T-72. Seeing the pace of development of modern armored vehicles, the Yugoslav military at the end of the same decade initiated the start of work to create a new modification of the tank. For some political and legal reasons, Yugoslavia had the right to independently modernize Soviet-built technology under construction under license. For this, other countries of Eastern Europe had to turn to the USSR.


In 1982, the main work on the project was completed, and the Yugoslav defense industry jointly built a prototype tank, called M-84. Several enterprises took part in the creation of the Soviet T-72 modernization project, and the Belgrade Military Technical Institute was the lead developer. The main objective of the M-84 project was to significantly improve the performance of the combat vehicle by updating individual systems and components. In this regard, the design of the T-72 tank, taken as a basis, has undergone minimal changes, but the internal equipment has changed significantly.

Like the Soviet T-72, the M-84 had a welded body consisting of sheets and stamped parts. According to reports, the thickness of the armor plates and the design of the combined obstacles did not change. The frontal projection of the armored hull and the turret was covered by the blocks of the “Contact” dynamic protection system. Some sources mention that the Yugoslav industry was forced to use armor steel grades mastered by it in production. However, in general, the design of the armored hull and turret of the M-84 tank is similar to the design of the units of the base tank T-72. All differences were minimal and were caused by the need to install new equipment, etc.

The engine, transmission and chassis of the M-84 tank were no different from those used on the Soviet tank. Because of this, the running and economic characteristics of the Yugoslav war machine remained at the old level. Similarly, without any changes, the T-72 tank borrowed everything weapon: 125-mm smooth-bore gun-launcher 2А46, PKT and NSV machine guns.

The main goal of the modernization project was to increase the combat capabilities of the armored vehicle. Especially for the tank M-84, Yugoslav experts have developed a fire control system (FCS) SUV M-84. Electron-optical observation instruments DNKS-2 and PPV-2 were associated with it, as well as a sight with a laser rangefinder. All electronic equipment was created by Yugoslavia on the basis of Soviet developments and its own experience. In addition, the tank M-84 received a new radio station and anti-nuclear defense system DRHT.

Serial production of the main tank M-84, which is a minor modernization of the Soviet T-72, began in the 1983 year. As in the case of the construction of armored vehicles under a license, several enterprises scattered throughout Yugoslavia were involved in the production of M-84 tanks. Final assembly was carried out at the plant. Djuro Djakovic in the city of Slavonski Brod. In the future, this distribution of work across enterprises adversely affected the capabilities of the defense industry.


Shortly after the start of mass production of the M-84 tank, the Yugoslav specialists set about improving it. During the modernization, under the name M-84A, it was planned to upgrade not only radio-electronic equipment, but also a number of other systems. The new modification was supposed to surpass the T-72 in most characteristics.

In a slightly modified armored hull of the tank M-84 installed updated diesel engine. The Soviet B-46 engine received two turbochargers, thanks to which its power increased to the HP 1000. During the modernization of the power plant and hull combat weight of the tank increased to 44 tons. Despite this, the power density of the M-84A armor was slightly higher than the original M-84 or Soviet T-72. The maximum speed of the tank after upgrading increased to 68-70 km / h.

The armament of the M-84A tank, as in the case of the M-84, was completely borrowed from the T-72. To increase the combat characteristics of the upgraded M-84A received a fire control system FCS-H4 (FCS Omega-84) with a gunner sight SCS-84. The new MSA contained a ballistic computer and a laser radiation detection system. All new electronic equipment was developed by the Yugoslav enterprises and was a further development of the equipment used on the M-84 tank.

According to reports, in the late eighties several Yugoslav tanks M-84 and M-84A were delivered to the Soviet Union, where they were studied and tested. Soviet tank builders recognized the good results of the work of the Yugoslav specialists. In addition, it was noted that the number of applied systems is not inferior or even exceeds the equipment used on the Soviet T-72 tanks of that time.

Mass production of tanks M-84 and M-84A continued until the early nineties. During this time, at least 700 machines of both versions were built. In the late eighties, the first export version of the Yugoslav tank appeared. Especially for the supply of Kuwait was a modification of the tank called M-84AB, which differed from the M-84A in a number of components of the sighting system. Before the start of the war with Iraq, Kuwait managed to get only four tanks. Already during the fighting, Yugoslavia, through Saudi Arabia, was able to ship to the customer about another 80 combat vehicles. According to some sources, during the fighting, the Kuwaiti military did not lose a single tank: only two vehicles were damaged, but were restored and returned to service. The contract with Kuwait originally implied the delivery of 170 armored vehicles in the M-84AB and 15 versions of the M-84ABK command tanks.

After the collapse of the SFRY

In 1991, Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia. In an independent state left the main enterprise of the SFRY for the production of tanks - the plant them. Djuro Djakovich. This led to a sharp decline in the production of Yugoslav armored vehicles. In addition, the outbreak of war put an end to most plans. Nevertheless, even in such conditions, enterprises of small Balkan states were able to carry out several upgrades to the M-84 tank and create new modifications.

BREM M-84ABI based on the tank M-84

In the mid-nineties, Kuwait expressed a desire to get armored repair and recovery vehicles based on the M-84AB. Due to the loss of production capacity, Yugoslavia attempted to create the BREM M-84AI together with the Polish colleagues, however, as far as is known, the project stopped at the prototype testing stage. The only car built was not transferred to Kuwait. For several years they were used by the armed forces of Yugoslavia, and then Serbia.

In 2004, the Serbian defense industry presented the latest at the moment its project for the modernization of the tank M-84. The new tank M-84AS (aka M-84B1 or M-2001) received a hp 1200 diesel engine. and a number of new electronic devices. It was argued that the new sights, updated SLA and a number of other systems significantly increase the combat capabilities of the armored vehicle. Unfortunately, the Serbian tank builders, in the time since the first demonstration of the tank M-84AS, no one has signed a contract for its delivery. It was assumed that a number of such machines could buy Kuwait, but the military of this country showed no interest in the new Serbian design.


The largest tank factory of the former SFRY after the collapse of the country remained in independent Croatia. This country has launched the most active work on the creation of new combat vehicles based on the M-84 tank. The first upgrade option was the tank M-84A4 Sniper, which appeared in the mid-nineties. This tank was a further development of the M-84A with new sights and a ballistic computer. In fact, the M-84A4 was an M-84A with M-84AB electronic equipment. According to some data, a part of the Sniper tanks received the 1100 hp engines. German production. From 1996 to 2003, the Croatian industry built the 40 tank model M-84A4.

M-90 Vihor

Back in the eighties, the plant them. Djuro Djakovic began the development of a new project M-91 Vihor. It was planned, using the available developments, to create a main tank with characteristics at the level of modern foreign models. The M-91 project reached the prototype testing stage, but the outbreak of war prevented the completion and the start of the construction of serial machines. In the future, Croatian experts attracted the Israeli company Elbit to the project. As a result of this international collaboration, the M-91 project was transformed into the M-95 Degman. This combat vehicle is partially unified with the M-84 tanks of all models in service, but it is equipped with new electronic equipment. Tank M-95 received 1200-strong diesel engine and additional booking modules, significantly increasing the level of protection. The complex of communications and fire control was created by Israeli specialists. According to the available data, all the used equipment elements fully comply with NATO standards, which, as expected, could give the tank great export prospects. The armament of the M-95 corresponds to the previous machines of the M-84 line, however, instead of the NSV anti-aircraft machine gun, the remote-controlled Samson combat module was installed. In addition, it was argued that, at the request of the customer, the 125-mm 2А46 cannon can be replaced with an 120 mm caliber cannon conforming to NATO standards. To date, only two prototypes of the M-95 tank have been built. According to some reports, both of the prototype M-95 are refined prototypes of the tank M-91. Croatian armed forces intend to acquire at least 30 of such tanks. Third countries have not yet shown interest in the M-95 Degman.


At the same time with the M-95 project, the Croatian tank builders were working on the M-84D tank. It was assumed that both combat vehicles will be as unified as possible. At the same time, M-84D is a direct development of old projects of the M-84 family. The tank M-84D is supposed to be equipped with a large number of modules of the dynamic protection system, with an engine up to 1200 hp, with new sighting equipment and SLA. The main objective of the M-84D project was not just the creation of a tank with characteristics exceeding the capabilities of existing machines, but the development of a set of tools to quickly and cheaply update the fleet of existing equipment. Due to this, the contract for updating the 70 with more than M-84 tanks of all modifications is currently being fulfilled. By 2015, only the M-84D vehicles should remain in the Croatian tank forces. They will probably serve with the ordered M-95. A few years ago, Croatia negotiated with Kuwait. It was assumed that all remaining in the Kuwaiti armed forces M-84AB will be updated to the newest version. The parties could not agree, which is why in 2007, all consultations on a possible contract ceased.

Combat application

Despite the relatively small number, the M-84 family of tanks managed to take part in several armed conflicts. The first to enter the battle was the Kuwaiti M-84AB. It happened during the war in the Persian Gulf. It is noteworthy that because of the resemblance to the Iraqi T-72, the M-84AB tanks were used limitedly and fought only with Soviet-made armored vehicles of the previous models (T-55 and T-62). During the fighting, two Kuwaiti tanks were seriously damaged, but were restored and returned to service.

Kuwait M-84AB Army

In June 1991, the Ten Day War began. Yugoslav troops tried to regain control of Slovenia, which was trying to secede. Since the territorial defense of Slovenia did not have heavy armored vehicles, the Yugoslav M-84 tanks were used to escort columns and destroy barricades. During the fighting, the Slovenian armed forces were able to destroy about two dozen Yugoslav tanks.

In the summer and autumn of the same year, the Yugoslav tank forces again suffered heavy losses. During the battle of Vukovar, the infantry was unable to provide full support to the tanks, which is why the Croatian military managed to destroy and damage a large number of enemy armored vehicles. In total, during the Croatian-Yugoslav clashes, the Croatian military were able to capture and restore about fifty M-84 tanks.

A number of tanks M-84 several modifications participated in the war in Bosnia. Precise data on the number of fought, damaged, lost and captured tanks are not available.


For several decades, the defense industry of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was able to create a number of modifications of the Soviet T-72 tank. For almost ten years, before the collapse of the country, there was an active construction of tanks, after which the pace of production dropped significantly and could not recover until now. In total, no more than a thousand tanks of all models of the M-84 family were produced, some of which were used in several armed conflicts.

A characteristic feature of all the armored vehicles of the family, created in Yugoslavia, Croatia and Serbia, is the way to update the vehicles. In the overwhelming majority of cases, Balkan specialists developed new electronic devices, updated the power plant, but did not make major adjustments to the hull and tower designs. This demonstrates the comparatively small possibilities of the Yugoslav and now Croatian and Serbian industries. In addition, this feature of the M-84 tanks can be considered proof of the large modernization potential of the Soviet T-72 tank.

At present, several hundred M-84 tanks remain in the forces of Kuwait and countries formerly part of the SFRY. It is difficult to talk about the prospects of this technology. As it becomes obsolete, it is likely to be re-upgraded or replaced with a new one. It should be remembered that the most new and sophisticated vehicles of the family (M-84D in the Croatian army) are the M-84 and M-84A, which have been repaired and upgraded. Thus, over the next few years, the M-84 family of tanks will run out of resources, including extended ones. In this case, you will need to look for a replacement. Perhaps it will be a new model, which is the next Balkan modernization of the T-72.

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  1. Apollo
    Apollo 2 October 2013 08: 45
    citation-In the 1982 year, the main work on the creation of the project was completed, and the Yugoslav defense industry jointly built a prototype of the tank, called the M-84.

    tank M-84AS

    tank M-95
  2. smiths xnumx
    smiths xnumx 2 October 2013 09: 28
    By the time of the collapse of Yugoslavia, the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) managed to receive about 1991 M-500 by 84. Nevertheless, the Soviet T-55 remained the main vehicle of the JNA, although it was outdated, but nevertheless suitable for modern warfare, moreover, it had the ability to modernize. The total number of such tanks in the JNA was more than 750 vehicles. Also in service were about a hundred T-72 tanks and the same number of PT-76 tanks. There were many obsolete tanks in reserve: the M4 Sherman, T-34, T-34-85 (about 300 tanks), and the M-47 Patton (about 300 tanks).
    During the fighting, Slovenian armed formations using the Yugoslavian RPGs M-80 "Strelets", M79 "Osa" and the German RPGs "Armbrust" were able to destroy about two dozen Yugoslav tanks.
    Destroyed M-84 in Slovenia

    During the war in Croatia, the losses of JNA were much greater. So, in the period from September 14 to 19, 1991, on the Trpinsky cestus, on a 370-meter-long site, 1 T-55 tank, 3 M-80 infantry fighting vehicles, 4 M-84 tanks and an evacuation tank were shot down by Croats. Croatian soldiers cut off Yugoslav infantry from equipment by firing from sniper rifles and mortars, after which they shot tanks from grenade launchers.
    Padded equipment JUNA

    The evacuation tank was hit when it was pushing an infantry fighting vehicle in front of it, and one M-84 was blown up on an anti-tank mine. The rest of the equipment was shot from grenade launchers.
    1. smiths xnumx
      smiths xnumx 2 October 2013 10: 26
      The only major tank battle during the war in Croatia took place on October 13, 1991, when the Croats tried to regain their lost positions for the first time using tanks captured from the JNA. As a result of a quickly organized operation, a company of Croatian T-55s "head-on" attacked the Yugoslavian M-84s buried in the ground. 2 T-55s were destroyed, 3 were damaged.
      Croatian tank T-55 in Vukovar

      During the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, tanks, incl. and M-84 were used as armored moving firing points. No major tank battles were noted.
      Abandoned Bosnian T-55 tank near Sarajevo

      During the war in Kosovo in 1999, JNA tanks were also used as mobile firing points and to escort convoys. Several of them were destroyed by NATO aircraft. Immediately after the end of hostilities, the commander of the 3rd Army, General Pavkovich, summarized the material losses of his troops: 13 tanks (including 7 from aviation), 6 armored personnel carriers, 8 artillery pieces, 19 anti-aircraft guns and one radar. According to other sources - information from the Pristina corps, 13 tanks were destroyed from the corps (7 of them were air strikes), 4 infantry fighting vehicles, 2 BOV armored vehicles, 3 self-propelled guns, 6 howitzers, 10 anti-aircraft guns. In December 1999, the Deputy Chief of the General Staff, General Pantelich, declared: "Our total losses are 18 tanks, 10 armored personnel carriers, 13 artillery pieces ..."
      1. smiths xnumx
        smiths xnumx 2 October 2013 10: 43
        The main fleet of armored personnel carriers and combat vehicles of the UNA infantry were M60, in the amount of about 790 vehicles and M-80 infantry fighting vehicles - more than 500 vehicles. The M60 tracked armored personnel carrier, manufactured between 1962 and 1979, was used to create the M-60PB anti-tank version equipped with twin 82-mm recoilless guns manufactured in Yugoslavia, which reminds us of the famous American M-113. The driver's seat is located in the left front of the armored personnel carrier. A little behind is the commander’s place from which he can use weapons: the M-53 machine gun of 7.92 mm caliber (a Yugoslav copy of the famous German MG-42) was initially installed, then it was replaced by the 12,7-mm caliber model of the American Browning M-2NV, manufactured in Yugoslavia under license. Immediately after the commander’s place, there was a landing squad for ten people. The landing took place through the doors in the stern of the hull, each of which is equipped with a viewing window. Also, three loopholes were on the sides.
        BTR M-60R

        anti-tank variant M-60PB

        Subsequently, they began to be replaced by the BMP M-80, created in the SFRY under the influence of the French AMX-10. And at the very end of the 80s, the M-80A1 was launched with enhanced armor and weapons, which surpassed the Soviet BMP-2, but still did not reach the level of the western BMPs. A new infantry fighting vehicle was put into production shortly before the collapse of Yugoslavia.
        BMP M-80A

        As reconnaissance vehicles used BRDM-2, in an amount of about 50 units.
        Yugoslav BRDM-2 and PT-76 in Slovenia in 1991
        1. smiths xnumx
          smiths xnumx 2 October 2013 11: 11
          Soviet BTR, BTR-152 (40 delivered from the USSR in 1962), BTR-50PK / PU (120 BTR-50 delivered in 1965), used as staff vehicles, as well as 80 wheeled BTR-60 (more precisely, their Romanian version TAV-71) and tracked armored tractors MT-LB, which could be used and were used as armored personnel carriers (about 200 tractors).
          TAV-71 YUNA

          Along with the aforementioned vehicles, JNA also received light biaxial armored vehicles of the BOV series (Borbeno Oklopno Vozilo) produced at the TAM plant in the city of Maribor (Slovenia). All variants of the armored car have the same layout: in the front there is a control compartment, then a fighting compartment, and behind it a motor-transmission unit. Ahead are the driver and commander. There are hatches above their seats in the roof of the hull. The armored cars were equipped with six-cylinder diesel engines with air cooling F 6L 413F with a capacity of 148 liters. with., allowing to develop speed to 95 km / h. Engines were produced under license from Germany. The gearbox is manual, five speeds for forward and one for reverse. The armor protection consisted of 8 mm thick steel plates.
          Cars of this series were produced in several versions:
          - in the reconnaissance police version, armed with a machine gun (BOV-VP), with the possibility of placing eight fighters inside the armored car, not counting the crew of two,

          - in anti-aircraft versions with three 20 mm (BOV-3) or two 30 mm cannons (BOV-30), which in practice were used to combat enemy infantry and lightly armored vehicles. The first option had several drawbacks, among which the small capacity of the disk stores for the guns and their open installation on top of the guns, which forced the loader to protrude from the tower to replace the stores. The BOV-3s are armed with the M-55 A4B1 gun, which is the licensed version of the Spanish-Suiz HS804 gun. In service were more than 100 of these ZSU,

          - in the version of a self-propelled anti-tank missile system, armed with four installations of anti-tank guided missiles 3M14 "Baby" (BOV-1). Reloading the launcher from inside the machine body is impossible. These machines were quite up-to-date.
  3. Watchman
    Watchman 2 October 2013 13: 39
    T-72 is a great tank. Long years of service to him, whatever his name.
    1. Geisenberg
      Geisenberg 2 October 2013 20: 10
      Quote: Watchman
      T-72 is a great tank. Long years of service to him, whatever his name.

      Not those people got a plant on the ball, but already well done fellows well ...
  4. Aleks tv
    Aleks tv 2 October 2013 15: 11
    Thank you, Cyril, for the info on the Yugoslav T-72 models.
    It was interesting to read about combat use in Kuwait.
    Something I learned for the first time.

    OUR assembly, of course, is preferable.
    1. Kars
      Kars 2 October 2013 15: 26
      Quote: Aleks tv
      It was interesting to read about combat use in Kuwait.

      Yes, almost nothing. For a long time, it was served that the Kuwaiti T-72s that did not have time to reach the occupation and some who allegedly escaped across the border were in the forefront of the attack of the anti-Iraqi coalition with crews of Czechoslovak mercenaries. But I did not find reliable confirmation.
      1. postman
        postman 2 October 2013 16: 25
        Quote: Kars
        served for a long time that Kuwaiti T-72 who did not have time to deliver to occupation

        Kuwait ordered 170x M-84ABs, 15x M-84ABI and 15x M-84ABK.
        4 were delivered and captured by Iraq.
        DURING THE WAR, WE SUPPLIED 70 units of 70 x M-84 to the 35th Fatah armored brigade, which ... did not directly participate in the battles with Iraqi tanks.

        1991 war On the side of the tank, the inscription: "Army of Kuwait / Long live Kuwait / Free and proud".

        1991 war
        extended weather sensor (in front of the tower, against the background of the ZPU), the most noticeable external distinguishing feature of the M-84 from the T-72


      2. postman
        postman 2 October 2013 16: 37
        but agree M-95 looks set off, I would say holistically.
        you can’t say that they hung something on him, hung it up, it seems that they’re

        Closer to this (than ours):

  5. samoletil18
    samoletil18 2 October 2013 16: 28
    And the tank is my peer (I'm 43)! It was nothing to upgrade in 1940. About M60A is no longer heard (although it can only be with us). But all the same, well done Tagil residents!
  6. 0255
    0255 2 October 2013 16: 38
    it is a pity that the Serbs did not master the production of air defense systems (((
  7. bublic82009
    bublic82009 2 October 2013 22: 01
    and they say that the T-72 is a bad tank.
    1. Genady1976
      Genady1976 2 October 2013 23: 45
      shit bastards wink
  8. Black Colonel
    Black Colonel 4 October 2013 17: 12
    It is surprising how DZ adjoins on our tanks, especially on the towers (walked between the elements) and the Yugoslav (tight installation). What is the reason for this? Can’t the projectile slip through the gap?