In late 80s, the design bureau of Leningrad Kirov Plant (LKZ) under the leadership of Nikolai Popov developed a design of a brand-new tank based on a stretched and redesigned T-80U chassis. Following the closure of the bureau the documentation has been transferred to Omsk which became the main maintainer of T-80 line of MBTs. The development of this project, designated in Omsk Obiekt 640, has continued.
At the second VTTV-Omsk-97 International Exhibition of Armaments, Military Equipment and Conversion Products held in September '97 in Omsk, Siberia region, Russia, the prototype was first shown to the public, under the catchy name Chiorny Oriol (Black Eagle). Back then, this was nothing more than a full-sized turret mockup mounted on a production T-80U hull. Despite the fact that the turret was concealed beneath the camo netting, it was immediately obvious that its design represented a radical departure from the traditional Soviet designs. This vehicle has generated considerable excitement and various hypotheses were floated ranging from it being a new vehicle for the Russian Armed Forces to it being a purely export development.
Until recently, there were hardly any details about the tank except for a couple of words and a poster on the Defendory 1998 held in Greece, but lately considerable amount of information has been revealed, probably due to the fact that Omsk Transmash bureau is desperate to break through the pro-UVZ lobby and turn around the grim prospects of the Omsk tank-building complex (which is in the state of bankruptcy management since 2002).
It seems reasonable to assume that Omsk will face an uphill battle in bringing the tank to production. This is unfortunate as it is certainly an innovative design that brings some fresh air into the stagnating Russian tank design school.
The tank has the following important innovations compared to Soviet-school tanks:
This page is © 1998-2005 Vasiliy Fofanov,
with contributions by Mike Jasinsky, Valeriy Mukhin, Viktor Mourakhovsky, Jim Warford, Steven Zaloga, Sergei Zykov, etc.