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Парк Победы в Саратове 38.jpg
A T-64 tank on display in April 2008
Type Main battle tank
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1964–present
Used by See Operators
Production history
Designer KMDB
Designed 1951–62
Manufacturer Malyshev Factory
Produced 1963–87
Number built ≈13,000
Specifications (T-64A[2])
Weight 38 tonnes (42 short tons; 37 long tons)
Length 9.225 m (30 ft 3.2 in) (gun forward)
Width 3.415 m (11 ft 2.4 in)
Height 2.172 m (7 ft 1.5 in)
Crew 3

Armour Glass-reinforced plastic sandwiched between layers of steel.

ERA plates optional

Hull & turret –
370 mm to 440 mm vs APFSDS
500 mm to 575 mm vs HEAT[1]
D-81T (aka 2A46) 125 mm smoothbore gun
7.62 mm PKMT coaxial machine gun, 12.7 mm NSVT anti-aircraft machine gun
Engine 5DTF 5-cylinder diesel
700 hp (522 kW)
Power/weight 18.4 hp/tonne (13.7 kW/ton)
Suspension Torsion bar
500 km (310 mi), 700 km (430 mi) with external tanks
Speed 45–60 km/h (28–37 mph) depending on version

The T-64 is a Soviet second-generation main battle tank introduced in the early 1960s. It was a more advanced counterpart to the T-62: the T-64 served tank divisions, while the T-62 supported infantry in motorized rifle divisions. Although the T-62 and the famous T-72 would see much wider use and generally more development, it was the T-64 that formed the basis of more modern Soviet tank designs, such as the T-80.


The T-64 was conceived in Kharkiv, Ukraine as the next-generation main battle tank by Alexander A. Morozov, the designer of the T-54 (which, in the meantime, would be incrementally improved by Leonid N. Kartsev's Nizhny Tagil bureau, by the models T-54A, T-54B, T-55, and T-55A).

A revolutionary feature of the T-64 is the incorporation of an automatic loader for its 125-mm gun, allowing one crew member's position to be omitted and helping to keep the size and weight of the tank down. Tank troopers would joke that the designers had finally caught up with their unofficial hymn, Three Tankers—the song had been written to commemorate the crewmen fighting in the Battle of Khalkhin Gol, in 3-man BT-5 tanks in 1939.[3]

The T-64 also pioneered other Soviet tank technology: the T-64A model of 1967 introduced the 125-mm smooth-bore gun, and the T-64B of 1976 would be able to fire a guided anti-tank missile through its gun barrel.

The T-64 design was further developed as the gas turbine-powered T-80 main battle tank. The turret of the T-64B would be used in the improved T-80U and T-80UD, and an advanced version of its diesel engine would power the T-80UD and T-84 tanks built in Ukraine.

The T-64 would only be used by the Soviet Army and never exported, unlike the T-54/55. The tank equipped elite and regular formations in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, the T-64A model being first deployed with East Germany's Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSFG) in 1976, and some time later in Hungary's Southern Group of Forces (SFG). By 1981, the improved T-64B began to be deployed in East Germany and later in Hungary. While it was believed that the T-64 was "only" reserved for elite units, it was also used by much lower "non-ready formations", for example, the Odessa Military District's 14th Army.

With the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, T-64 tanks remained in the arsenals of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Uzbekistan. Mid 2014, slightly fewer than 2,000 of the former Soviet inventory of T-64 tanks are in service with the military of Ukraine and about 4,000 are out-of-service and awaiting destruction in Russia.[4]

Development history

The initial requirement

Recognizing that the T-55/T-62 lineage had finally exhausted its potential for improvement, the USSR embarked on the development of an entirely new tank design that could defeat new Western tanks like the British Chieftain and resist new Western anti-tank weapons.[5]

Object 430

Object 430 prototype on display at the Kubinka Tank Museum in September 2008.

Studies for the design of a new battle tank started as early as 1951. The KB-60M team was formed at the Kharkiv design bureau of the Kharkiv transport machine-building factory No. 75 named for Malyshev (Russian: конструкторское бюро Харьковского завода транспортного машиностроения №75 им. Малышева) by engineers coming back from Nizhniy Tagil, with A.A. Morozov at its head. A project named obyekt 430 gave birth to three prototypes, which were tested in Kubinka in 1958.[6] Those vehicles showed characteristics that were going to radically change the design of battle tanks on this side of the Iron Curtain. For the first time, an extremely compact opposed-piston engine was used : the 4TD, designed by the plant's engine design team. The transmission system comprised two lateral gears on each side of the engine. Those two innovations yielded a very short engine compartment with the opening located beneath the turret. The engine compartment volume was almost half that of the T-54. An improved cooling system and a new lightweight suspension was fitted, featuring hollow metallic wheels of a small diameter and caterpillar tracks with rubber joints.

The tank would be armed with the D-54TS and frontal armour of 120 mm. As it did not present a clear superiority in terms of combat characteristics when compared to the T-55, which was entering active service, Morozov decided that production was not yet ready given the project's drawbacks. However, studies conducted on the obyekt 430U, featuring a 122 mm gun and 160 mm of armour, demonstrated that the tank had the potential to fit the firepower and armour of a heavy tank on to a medium tank chassis. A new project was consequently started, obyekt 432.

Object 432

The gun fitted on this new tank was a powerful 115 mm D-68 (2A21). This was a potentially risky decision to replace the human loader by an electro-hydraulic automatic system, since the technology was new to Russian designers. The crew was reduced to three, which allowed an important reduction in internal volume and external visible silhouette, and consequently in weight, from 36 tonnes (obyekt 430) to 30.5 tonnes. The height dropped by 76 mm.

However, the arrival of the British 105 mm L7 gun and the US M-68 variant of it, fitted respectively to the Centurion and M60 tanks, forced the team to undertake another audacious première, with the adoption of composite armour. The recently created process was called "K combination" by Western armies: this protection consisted of an aluminium alloy layer between two high strength steel layers. As a consequence, the weight of the prototype rose eventually to 34 tonnes. But, as the engine was now a 700 hp (515 kW) 5TDF (also locally designed), its mobility remained excellent, far superior to the active T-62. The obyekt 432 was ready in September 1962 and production started in October 1963 in the Kharkiv plant. On 30 December 1966, it entered service as the T-64.


Obyekt 447 at the Museum of the Great Patriotic War, Kiev, Ukraine
The T-64 has a characteristic exhaust vent in the rear
T-64AK at the T-34 Tank History Museum in Russia

Even as the first T-64s were rolling off the assembly lines, the design team was working on a new version, named object 434, which would allow it to maintain firepower superiority. The brand new and very powerful 125 mm D-81T gun, from the Perm weapons factory, was fitted to the tank. This gun was merely a scaled-up version of the 115 mm smoothbore cannon from the T-62. The larger size of the 125 mm ammunition meant that less could be carried inside the T-64, and with a fourth crewman loader taking up space as well, the tank would only have a 25-round capacity. This was unacceptably low for the Soviet designers, but strict dimensional parameters forbade them from enlarging the tank to increase interior space. The solution was to replace the human loader with a mechanical autoloader, cutting the crew to three and marking the first use of autoloaders in a Soviet MBT.[7] The 6ETs10 autoloader has 28 rounds and can fire 8 shots per minute; the stabiliser, a 2E23, was coupled to the new TPD-2-1 (1G15-1) sight. Night driving was also adapted with the new TPN-1-43A periscope, which would benefit from the illumination of a powerful infrared L2G projector, fitted on the left side of the gun. The shielding was improved, with fibreglass replacing the aluminium alloy in the armour, and small spring-mounted plates fitted along the mudguards (known as the Gill skirt), to cover the top of the suspension and the side tanks. They were, however, extremely fragile and were often removed. Some small storage spaces were created along the turret, with a compartment on the right and three boxes on the front left. Snorkels were mounted on the rear of the turret. A NBC protection system was fitted and the hatches were widened.

Prototypes were tested in 1966 and 1967 and, as production began after the six hundredth T-64, it entered service in the Soviet Army under the designation T-64A. Chief engineer Alexander Morozov was awarded the Lenin Prize for this model's success.

Designed for elite troops, the T-64A was constantly updated as available equipment was improved. After only three years in service, a first modernisation occurred, regarding:

  • fire control, by replacing the sights with the TPD-2-49 day sight with an optical coincidence rangefinder and a TPN-1-49-23 night sight, and stabilisation by mounting a 2E26 system.
  • the radio by mounting a R-123M
  • night vision with a TBN-4PA for the driver and a TNP-165A for the tank leader. His battlepost was transformed by mounting a small stabilised turret with an anti-aircraft NSVT 12.7 mm × 108 machine gun, electrically guided through an optical PZU-5 sight, and fed with 300 rounds. It could be used from within the tank so that the tank leader could avoid being exposed (as on previous tanks). The possibility of mounting a KMT-6 anti-mine system was also added.

A derived version appeared at the same time, designed for the commanding officer and named T-64AK. It comprised a R-130M radio with a 10 m telescopic antenna, which could be used only in a static position as it required shrouds, an artillery aiming circle PAB-2AM and TNA-3 navigation station; all of these could be powered by an auxiliary gasoline-fired generator.

In 1976, the weapons system was improved by mounting a D-81TM (2A46-1), stabilised by a 2E28M2, supplied by an automatic 6ETs10M. The night sight was replaced by a TNPA-65 and the engine could accept different fuels, including diesel fuel, kerosene or gasoline. The production, first carried on the B variant, stopped in 1980.

But the majority of T-64As were still modernised after 1981, by mounting a six smoke grenade-launcher 81 mm 902A on each side of the gun, and by replacing the gill plates by a rubber skirt for a longer life. Some of them seem to have been fitted after 1985 with reactive bricks (as the T-64BV), or even with laser TPD-K1 telemeters instead of the optical TPD-2-49 optical coincidence rangefinder (1981). Almost all T-64s were modernised into T-64R, between 1977 and 1981, by reorganising external storage and snorkels, similar to the T-64A.


The design team was carrying on its work on new versions. Problems with the setup of the 5TDF engine occurred as the local production capacity was proven to be insufficient against a production done in three factories (Malyshev in Kharkiv, Kirov in Leningrad and Uralvagonzavod).

From 1961, an alternative to the obyekt 432 was studied, with 12 V-cylinder V-45 engine: the obyekt 436. Three prototypes were tested in 1966 in the Chelyabinsk factory. The order to develop a model derived from the 434 with the same engine gave the obyekt 438, later renamed as obyekt 439. Four tanks of this type were built and tested in 1969, which showed the same mobility as the production version, but mass production was not started. They served however as a basis for the design of the T-72 engine compartment.

In the beginning of the 1970s, the design team was trying to improve the tank further. The T-64A-2M study in 1973, with its more powerful engine and its reinforced turret, served as a basis for two projects:

  • Obyekt 476 with a 6TD 1000 hp (735 kW) engine which served as a model for the T-80 combat compartment.
  • Obyekt 447 which featured a new fire control with a laser telemeter, and which was able to fire missiles through the gun.

For the latter, the order was given to start its production under the name T-64B, as well as a derived version (which shared 95% of its components), the obyekt 437, without the missile guidance system for cost reasons. The latter was almost twice as much produced under the designation T-64B1. On 3 September 1976, the T-64B and the T-64B1 were declared good for the service, featuring the improved D-81Tm gun (2A46-2) with a 2E26M stabiliser, a 6ETs40 loader and a 1A33 fire control, including:

Its ford capacity reaches 1.8 m without equipment. The T-64B had the ability to fire the new 9M112 "Kobra" radio-guided missile (NATO code "AT-8 Songster"). The vehicle then carries 8 missiles and 28 shells. The missile control system is mounted in front of the tank leader small turret and has many changes. The T-64B1 carries only 37 shells and has 2,000 7.62 mm rounds, against 1,250 for the T-64B.

They were modernised in 1981 by the replacement of the gun by a 2A46M1, the stabiliser by a 2E42, and the mounting of a 902A "Tucha-1" smoke grenade launcher in two groups of four, on each side of the gun. Two command versions are realised, very similar to the T-64AK: the T-64BK and the T-64B1K.

The decision, in October 1979, to start the production of the 6TD engine, and its great similarity with the 5TDF engine, allowed after some study to fit it in versions B and B1, but also A and AK, yielding the new models T-64AM, T-64AKM, T-64BM and T-64BAM, entering service in 1983.

The production ended in 1987 for all versions. The total production has reached almost 13,000.

Modernisations in Ukraine

Ukrainian T-64BM Bulat on parade

After the dissolution of the USSR, Ukraine carried on the development of T-64 modernization, as the original and main factory was in this country. Two different upgrade packages were developed in 1999[8]

  • T-64BM2, with a 57DFM 850-hp (625 kW) engine, a new 1A43U fire control, a new 6ETs43 loader and the possibility to fire the 9M119 missile (NATO code "AT-11 Sniper").
  • T-64U which integrated on top the 1A45 fire control (from the T-80U and T-84), PNK-4SU and TKN-4S optics for the tank commander and PZU-7 for the AA machine gun. The tank leader is then able to drive the tank and to use the gun directly if needed. Kontakt-5 Armor added few prototypes build.[citation needed]

The two variants are also protected by Kontakt-5 modular reactive armour, able to resist to kinetic energy projectiles, as opposed to the first models which were efficient only against HEAT shaped-charge ammunition. Those two variants could also be re-motorised with the 6TDF 1,000 hp (735 kW) engine.[citation needed]

  • T-64BM BULAT Ukrainian army on use modernization, the designs incorporate the 'Knife' reactive armor that offers better performance dealing with tandem warheads than Russian Kontakt-5, new Ukrainian made 125 mm GUN KBA3, TO1-KO1ER night sight and capable to fire the Ukrainian made missile KOMBAT with tandem warhead.

In 2010, the Kharkiv Malyshev Factory upgraded 10 T-64B tanks to T-64BM "Bulat" standard, and a further 19 will be delivered in 2011. These T-64B [Т-64Б] tanks were originally produced at Kharkiv in 1980. These 29 tanks are being upgraded under a ₴200 million ($25.1 million) contract signed in April 2009. As of October 2011, Ukrainian Army has 76 T-64BM "Bulat" [Т-64БМ "Булат"] in service. According to Constantin Isyak (chief engineer of Malyshev Factory), the T-64BM "Bulat" is armoured to the level of modern tanks. They have 'Knife' [Нiж] reactive armour, and the 'Warta' [Варта] active defence system. The T-64BM "Bulat" weighs 45 tonnes (44 long tons), and with its 850 hp (630 kW) 5TDFM multi-fuel diesel engine can do 70 km/h (43 mph), and has a range of 385 km (239 mi). It retains the 125 mm smoothbore gun with an autoloader for 28 rounds, some of which can be guided missiles. It has a 12.7 mm AA machinegun, and a 7.62 mm coaxial machinegun.[9][10]

Production history

Different sources differ on the initial production date of the tank that is set between 1963 and 1967. However it is normally agreed that the T-64 formally entered service with the army in 1967 and publicly revealed in 1970.[11][12] The T-64 was KMDB's high-technology offering, intended to replace the IS-3 and T-10 heavy tanks in independent tank battalions. Meanwhile, the T-72 was intended to supersede the T-55 and T-62 in equipping the bulk of the Soviet tank and mechanized forces, as well as for export partners and east-bloc satellite states.

It introduced a new autoloader, which is still used on all T-64s currently in service, as well as all variants of the T-80 except the Ukrainian T-84-120. The T-64 prototypes had the same 115 mm smoothbore gun as the T-62, the ones put in full-scale production had the 125 mm gun.

While the T-64 was the superior tank, it was more expensive and physically complex, and was produced in smaller numbers. The T-72 is mechanically simpler and easier to service in the field, while it is not as well protected, and its manufacturing process is correspondingly simpler. In light of Soviet doctrine, the superior T-64s were kept ready and reserved for the most important mission: a potential outbreak of a war in Europe.

In Soviet times, T-64 was mostly in service with units stationed in East Germany. No T-64s were exported. Many T-64s ended up in Russian and Ukrainian service after the breakup of the Soviet Union.


  • Ob'yekt 430 (1957) – Prototype with D-10T 100-mm gun, 120 mm armour, 4TPD 580 hp (427 kW) engine, 36 tonnes.
  • Ob'yekt 430U – Project, equipped with a 122-mm gun and 160 mm of armour.
  • T-64 or Ob'yekt 432 (1961) – Prototype with a D-68 115-mm gun, then initial production version with the same features, about 600 tanks produced.
  • T-64R (remontirniy, rebuilt)[13] or Ob'yekt 432R – Redesigned between 1977 and 1981 with external gear from the T-64A but still with the 115-mm gun.
  • T-64A or Ob'yekt 434 – 125-mm gun, "gill" armour skirts, a modified sight, and suspension on the fourth road wheel.
  • T-64T (1963) – Experimental version with a GTD-3TL 700 hp (515 kW) gas turbine.
  • Ob'yekt 436 – Alternative version of Ob'yekt 432 with a V-45 engine. Three built.
  • Ob'yekt 438 and Ob'yekt 439 – Ob'yekt 434 with V-45 diesel engine.
  • T-64AK or Ob'yekt 446 (1972) – Command version, with a R-130M radio and its 10 m (33 ft) telescoping antenna, a TNA-3 navigation system, without antiarcraft machine gun, carrying 38 rounds of main gun ammunition.
  • Ob'yekt 447 – Prototype of the T-64B. Basically a T-64A fitted with the 9K112 "Kobra" system and a1G21 gunsight. This is the "T-64A" displayed in the Kiev museum.
  • T-64B or Ob'yekt 447A (1976) – Fitted with redesigned armour, 1A33 fire control system, 9K112-1 "Kobra" ATGM system (NATO code "AT-8 Songster"), TPN-1-49-23 sight, 2A46-2 gun, 2E26M stabiliser and 6ETs40 loader. Later B/BV models have more modern systems 1A33-1, TPN-3-49, 2E42 and a 2A46M-1 gun. From 1985 the T-64B was fitted with stronger glacis armour; older tanks were upgraded with a 16-mm armour plate. Tanks, equipped with the 1,000 hp 6DT engine are known as T-64BM.
  • T-64BV – Features "Kontakt-1" reactive armour and "Tucha" 81-mm smoke grenade launchers on the left of the turret.
  • T-64BM2 or Ob'yekt 447AM-2 – "Kontakt-5" reactive armour, rubber protection skirts, 1A43U fire control, 6ETs43 loader and able to fire the 9K119 missile (NATO code "AT-11A Sniper"), 5TDFM 850 hp (625 kW) engine.
  • T-64U, BM Bulat, or Ob'yekt 447AM-1 – Ukrainian modernisation, bringing the T-64B to the standard of the T-84. Fitted with "Nozh" reactive armour, 9K120 "Refleks" missile (NATO code "AT-11 Sniper"), 1A45 "Irtysh" fire control, TKN-4S commander's sight, PZU-7 antiaircraft machine-gun sight, TPN-4E "Buran-E" night vision, 6TDF 1,000-hp (735 kW) engine.
  • T-64B1 or Ob'yekt 437 – Same as the B without the fire control system, carrying 37 shells.
  • T-64B1M – T-64Ba equipped with the 1,000-hp 6DT engine.
  • T-64BK and T-64B1K or Ob'yekt 446B – Command versions, with an R-130M radio and its 10-m telescoping antenna, a TNA-3 navigation system and AB-1P/30 APU, without antiaircraft machine gun, carrying 28 shells.
  • Obyekt 476 – Five prototypes with the 6TDF engine, prototypes for T-80UD development.
  • BREM-64 or Ob'yekt 447T – Armoured recovery vehicle with a light 2.5-tonne crane, dozer blade, tow bars, welding equipment, etc. Only a small number was built.
  • T-55-64 – Heavily upgraded T-55 with the complete hull and chassis of the T-64, fitted with "Kontakt-1" ERA. Prototype.
  • T-80 and T-84 – further developments of the T-64.



  • 1977–1981 – brought to the T-64R standard, reorganisation of external equipment as on the T-64A.


  • 1972 redesign, fire control improvement (TPD-2-49 and TPN-1-49-23), inclusion of the NSVT machine gun on an electrical turret, R-123M radio.
  • 1975 redesign, new 2E28M stabiliser, 6ETs10M loader, multi-fuel engine, 2A46-1 gun and TNPA-65 night vision.
  • 1981 redesign, two sets of six 902A smoke grenade launchers, rubber skirts on the suspension instead of the Gill protection.
  • 1983 T-64AM,T-64AKM, some tanks were equipped with the 6TDF engine during maintenance.


  • 1981 redesign, 2 sets of four 902B2 smoke grenade launchers, 2A26M1 gun.
  • 1983 T-64BM,T-64B1M,T-64BMK and T-64B1MK: some tanks were equipped with the 6TDF engine during maintenance.
  • 1985 T-64BV,T-64BV1,T-64BVK and T-64BV1K: with "Kontakt" reactive armour, smoke grenade launchers on the left of the turret.
  • BM Bulat – T-64 modernization by the Malyshev Factory in Ukraine (see above).[9][10]


  • BMPV-64 – Heavy infantry fighting vehicle, based on the chassis of the T-64 but with a completely redesigned hull with a single entry hatch in the rear. Armament consists of a remote-controlled 30-mm gun. Combat weight is 34.5 tons. The first prototype was ready in 2005.[14]
  • BTRV-64 – Similar APC version.[14]
  • UMBP-64 – Modified version that will serve as the basis for several (planned) specialized vehicles, including a fire support vehicle, an ambulance and an air-defence vehicle.
  • BMPT-K-64 – This variant is not tracked but has a new suspension with 4 axles, similar to the Soviet BTR series. The vehicle is powered by a 5TDF-A/700 engine and has a combat weight of 17.7 tons. It is fitted with a RCWS and can transport 3+8 men. Prototype only.
  • BAT-2 – Fast combat engineering vehicle with the engine, lower hull and "small roadwheels" suspension of the T-64.[15] The 40-ton tractor sports a very large, all axis adjustable V-shaped hydraulic dozer blade at the front, a single soil ripper spike at the rear and a 2-ton crane on the top. The crew compartment holds 8 persons (driver, commander, radio operators plus a five-man sapper squad for dismounted tasks). The highly capable BAT-2 was designed to replace the old T-54/AT-T based BAT-M, but WARPAC allies received only small numbers due to its high price and the old and new vehicles served alongside during the late Cold War.
  • UMR-64 – Ukrainian development using surplus T-64s to create a Heavy APC/IFV design, which in turn is intended as the basis of a new family of combat and support vehicles. The basic conversion includes moving the engine compartment forward, and at the same time removing the turret and normal crew compartment. This allows the installation of any one of 15 different 'functional modules', weighing up to 22 tons. One resulting option is the Heavy IFV, designated BMP-64E, which combines accommodation for up to 10 troops (not including the driver) with a remote weapons system. The Heavy APC version is designated the BTR-64E, and can not only carry more troops (at the cost of the RWS) but comes with large armoured double hatches at the rear for rapid loading and disembarkation. Other options include a universal supplies carrier (UMBP-64), a 'highly secure command and staff car with a weight up to 41 tons', and a 120 mm mortar carrier. The Kharkiv Armor Repair Plant (Zavod 311) is behind the project.[16] Current status of the program is unclear as of early 2014.

Service history

According to David Isby, the T-64 entered service in 1967 with the 41st Guards Tank Division in the Kiev Military District,[17] the suggestion being that this was prudent due to the proximity of the division to the factory, and significant teething problems during induction into service that required constant presence of factory support personnel with the division during acceptance and initial crew and service personnel training on the new type. It appears that the tank remained secret to the West for some years between its entry into production in the first half of Sixties and the official acceptance in the Soviet Army in 1967. The West often confusing it with the originally less-evolved T-72 tank.

It is normally reported that the T-64 was not used in the Soviet War in Afghanistan since the 40th Soviet Army that was deployed there used T-54/55 and T-62 tanks, possibly due to the limited use of tanks in mountain warfare. However it is possible that a small number of T-64 tanks were tested in Afghanistan.[18]

A Soviet T-64 in Perleberg (GDR) in the 1980s

The Russian T-64 tanks belonging to the 59th Guards Motor Rifle Division in Moldova saw a limited combat experience in May 1992, this being the first confirmed combat deployment of the tank.[19] While Russian T-80 tanks participated in the First Chechen War, any use of T-64 in Chechnya is not clearly documented, but it is possible in limited numbers.

The T-64 was finally used in large scale combat in mid 2014 during the War in Donbass, with the Ukrainian Army deploying T-64 tanks as the main battle tank in the offensive against pro-Russian separatists. Also, towards the end of August 2014, over 20 T-64 tanks were documented as being operated by Military forces of Novorossiya.[20] Ukrainian and NATO officials claimed that these T-64s were supplied to the separatists by Russia.[21] By the end of August 2014, over 70 T-64 tanks of various configurations, including at least three T-64 BM BULATs, were documented as destroyed[22] in the war in Donbass.

During the Soviet period, the T-64 was never exported. 50 upgraded Ukrainian T-64BV1 were finally exported to the Democratic Republic of Congo in February 2014.

Capabilities and limitations

The T-64 did not share many of the drawbacks of the T-72, even if it is often confused with it:

  • The automatic loader is hydraulic, not electric, thus is much faster (loading cycle of 6 to 13 seconds), more reliable, and less sensitive to jolting when running off-road. It also has a "sequence" fire mode that feeds the gun with shells of the same type in less than five seconds. It is also able, in the modern versions, to turn backwards to keep a good speed at the end of the loading sequence.
  • Driving seems much less exhausting for the crew, thanks to assisted controls and a more flexible suspension.[23]
  • The ammunition is stowed at the lower point of the turret shaft, minimizing the risks of destruction by self-detonation.[citation needed]
  • The tank commander's cupola provides good vision, the antiaircraft machine gun can be operated from inside the turret; the commander can also control the main gun sight if necessary.

Additionally, the adoption of the autoloader was highly controversial for several reasons:

  • Early versions of the autoloader lacked safety features and were dangerous to the tank crews (especially the gunner, who sits nearby): Limbs could be easily caught in the machinery, leading to injuries and deaths. A sleeve unknowingly snagged on one of the autoloader's moving parts could also drag a crewman into the apparatus upon firing.[24] Though it is very difficult to understand how the autoloader could do something like that, moreover with the presence of shoulders guard for both crew members in the turret, as the mechanical devices of the tank are not able to cut an arm.
  • Powder charges were stored separately from the shells in a vertical position, presenting much larger surface for a potential hit. Moreover, due to the lower placement of the autoloader's carousel and T-64 smaller roadwheels, the charges were covered only by the thin side armor, without the benefit of the roadwheels or the side skirts for additional protection.
  • The turret was poorly configured to allow the human crew to manually load the gun should the autoloader break. In such situations, rate of fire usually slowed to an abysmal one round per minute as the gunner fumbles with the awkward task of working around the broken machine to load the gun.[25]
  • While having smaller tank crews (three vs. the usual four) is advantageous since more tanks can theoretically be fielded using the same number of soldiers, there are also serious downsides. Tanks require frequent maintenance and refueling, and much of this is physically demanding work that several people must work together to accomplish. Most of the time, these duties are also performed at the end of a long day of operations, when everyone in the tank is exhausted. Having one less crewman for these tasks increases the strain on the remaining three men and increases the frequency of botched or skipped maintenance. This problem worsens if the tank's commander is also an officer who must often perform other duties such as higher-level meetings, leaving only two men to attend to the tank.[26] All of this means that tanks with three-man crews are more likely to suffer from performance-degrading human exhaustion, and mechanical failures that take longer to fix and that keep the tank from reaching the battlefield. These problems are exacerbated during prolonged time periods of operations.
  • The T-64 was criticized for being too mechanically complex, which resulted in a high breakdown rate. Problems were worst with the suspension system, which was of an entirely new and advanced design on the tank. Due to these problems, teams of civilian mechanics from the T-64 factories were "semi-permanent residents" of Soviet tank units early in the T64's initial adoption phase.[27]
  • The 5TDF opposed-piston engine, while powerful and compact, was very finicky and prone to malfunctions and fires. Russian expert Viktor Murakhovsky, then a battalion commander in Group of Soviet Forces in Germany reflected that in his unit the rate of the engines requiring a major overhaul was close to one per tank in a year. He also noted the difficulty of starting this engine, especially in the damp German winters, and that starting aids used by soldiers, like the high-pressure air and/or oil injection, often led to the engine fires.
  • The subsidiary of the State Company Ukrspecexport, the State Company Ukroboronservice, concluded the foreign economic contract for major overhaul and supply of 50 main battle tanks T64BV-1. The works will be performed by the State Enterprise Kharkiv plant of armored tanks.[28][29]


Map of T-64 operators in blue with former operators in red

Current operators

  • Democratic Republic of the Congo Democratic Republic of the Congo – 50 T-64BV-1 tanks on order from Ukrainian company Ukrspetsexport in February 2014.[30]
  • Donetsk People's Republic Donetsk People's Republic – multiple T-64s in service. At least 52 T-64 tanks have been documented as captured in the war in Donbass by the warring parties.[31] Russia has been accused of supplying these tanks to Donetsk forces by the United States Department of State and NATO based on intelligence and satellite imagery of their deployment.[32][33] Insurgents confirmed they had obtained the tanks, but leaders refused to elaborate on how they acquired them; one militant told reporters they originated "from a military warehouse."[34][35] Konstantin Mashovets, a former Ukrainian Defence Ministry official, said the tanks had likely been seized by Russian forces in Crimea before making their way into mainland Ukraine. Anton Heraschenko, an advisor to Arsen Avakov, confirmed at a briefing in Kiev that the tanks were once in the possession of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Crimea, and that they had been transferred by sea to Russia before crossing the border into Ukraine.[36][37] At least one captured T-64BV has shown matching serial numbers indicating it was in service in Crimea.[38] On June 30, Ukrainian forces captured a T-64BV in Donetsk region, after which the Ministry of Defense verified the serial numbers indicated the tank was issued to the Russian army and part of the 205th Infantry Brigade, which is stationed in the Russian city of Budenovskiy.[39]
  •  Kazakhstan [40]
  • Transnistria Transnistria – Between 10-15 T-64BVs are in service.
  •  Moldova – T-64BV
  •  Ukraine – 2,345 were in service as of 1995, 2,277 as of 2000 and 2,215 as of 2005.[41] Currently, around 600 are in service, 900+ in storage and over 100 from those that are in active service are modernized to T-64BM Bulat.
  •  Uzbekistan – 100 in service as of 2013.[42]

Former operators

  •  Belarus – Unknown number in 1990s. All have been scrapped since.
  •  Russia – Approx. 4,000 in 1995.[43] Russia has approximately 2,000 which it has phased out of service and are slated for destruction.[4] According to NATO International[44] and the Jen Psaki.[45]
  •  Soviet Union – Passed on to successor states.

T-64BV technical information



  • Length (gun to the front): 9.225 m[46]
  • Length (without the gun): 6.54 m
  • Breadth: 3.6 m[46]
  • Height: 2.17 m[46]
  • Weight: 42.5 t[46]


Three men:

  • commander
  • driver
  • gunner


  • Engine: 5TDF multifuel (diesel, kerosene and petrol) with 5 opposed cylinders, 10 piston, 13.6 L. Developing 700 hp (515 kW) at 2,800 rpm, consumption of 170 to 200 litres per 100 km.
  • Transmission: two lateral gearboxes with seven forward and one backward gear.
  • Three internal tanks for a 740 litres fuel capacity, two on the mudguards with 140 litres and two droppable 200 litres tanks on the aft end of the chassis.


  • Max. road speed: 60.5 km/h.
  • Max off-road speed: 35 km/h.
  • Power-to-weight ratio: 16.2 hp/t (11.9 kW/t).
  • Range: 500 km, 700 km with additional tanks.
  • Ground pressure: 0.9 kgf/cm2 (88 kPa, 12.8 psi).
  • Able to ford in 1.8 m of water without preparation and 5 m with snorkels.
  • Crosses a 2.8 m wide trench.
  • Crosses a 0.8 m high obstacle.
  • Max. slope 30°.


  • 125 mm smoothbore 2A46M-1 gun (D-81TM) with carousel 6ETs40 loader, 28 shots, fire rate 8 shots per minute, 36 embedded shots (8 x 9M112M "Kobra" (NATO code "AT-8 Songster"), 28 shells). Available shells are all fin-stabilised:
    • anti-personnel (APERS) version of the 3UOF-36, 3OVF-22, with several perforating abilities.
    • armour-piercing shells (APFSDS) 3UBM-17 or 3UBM-19 or older ones with a supplementary charge giving them an initial speed of about 1800 m/s.
    • hollow charge shells, 3VUK-25 or 3UBK-21.
  • coaxial machine gun 7.62 mm PKT with 1,250 rounds.
  • remote-controlled air-defence machine gun 12.7 mm NSVT "Utyos" with 300 rounds.
  • 4+4 (T-64B) or 6+6 (T-64A) 81 mm smoke mortars 902B "Tucha-2".


  • The 1A33 fire control system, with:
    • Radio control of the 9K112 "Kobra" missiles (NATO code "AT-8 Songster") launched from the gun.
    • The 2E28M hydraulic stabiliser (vertical range −5°20' to +15°15')
    • The gunner day sight 1G42 with embedded laser telemeter.
    • The TPN-1-49-23 active IR night sight.
    • The L2G IR projector left of the gun for illumination.
    • The 1V517 ballistic calculator.
    • The 1B11 anemometric gauge.
  • The tank commander's cupola is equipped with:
    • The PKN-4S combined day and night sight which allows a 360° vision and to fire the main weapons.
    • The PZU-6 AA sight.
    • The 2Z20 2-axis electrical stabiliser (vertical range −3° to +70°).
  • The TPN-3-49 or TPN-4 and TVN-4 night vision for the driver.
  • A R-173M radio.
  • An CBRN protection, with radiation detectors and global compartment overpressure.
  • Two snorkels for crossing rivers with a depth up to 5 m.
  • A KMT-6 mine clearing plough can be fitted at the front.


  • 3-layer composite armour (K formula), with a thickness between 450 and 20 mm:
    • Front: 120 mm steel, 105 mm glass fibre, 40 mm steel.
    • Sides: 80 mm steel.
    • Front of the turret: 150 mm steel, 150 mm glass fibre, 40 mm steel
  • Lateral rubber skirts protecting the top of the suspension.
  • Kontakt-1 reactive bricks covering:
    • The front and the side of the turret
    • The glacis
    • The lateral skirts

See also

Tanks of comparable role and era


  1. Soviet Tank Programs page 12 published by the CIA under the Freedom of Information Act
  2. T-64A Main Battle Tank Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building
  3. Три танкиста (Three Tankers)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Adrian Croft (14 June 2014). "NATO says images raise suspicions that Russia moved tanks into Ukraine". Reuters. Retrieved 14 June 2014. phased out of service and were slated for destruction<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Perrett 1987:42
  6. http://www.meshwar.vistcom.ru/tech/t-64.htm Main battle tank T-64 (Основной боевой танк Т-64)
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  26. Perrett 1987:42-43
  27. Perrett 1987:43-44
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  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 46.3 T-64BV Main Battle Tank at KMDB.


  • Isby, D.C. (1988). Ten million bayonets: inside the armies of the Soviet Union, Arms and Armour Press, London. ISBN 978-0-85368-774-0
  • Perrett, Bryan (1987). Soviet Armour Since 1945. London: Blandford Press. ISBN 0-7137-1735-1.
  • Saenko, M., V. Chobitok (2002). Osnovnoj boevoj tank T-64, Moscow: Eksprint. ISBN 5-94038-022-0.
  • Sewell, Stephen 'Cookie' (1998). "Why Three Tanks?" in Armor vol. 108, no. 4, p. 21. Fort Knox, KY: US Army Armor Center. ISSN 0004-2420. (PDF format)
  • Zaloga, Steven (1992), T-64 and T-80, Hong Kong: Concord, ISBN 962-361-031-9.

External links