|Type||Main battle tank|
|Place of origin||Soviet Union|
|Designer||Vladimir Ivanovich Potkin |
UKBTM - Ural Design Bureau of Transport Machine-Building
|Variants||Object 187 model No. 1 |
Object 187 model No. 2
Object 187 model No. 3
Object 187 model No. 4
Object 187 model No. 5
Object 187 model No. 6
|Weight||50 metric tons|
|Armour||950 mm |
(maximum physical thickness, not counting the reactive armor)
Composite armour / Reactive armour
(turret and hull front)
Rolled homogeneous armour
(rest of the tank)
|125 mm 2A66 smoothbore gun |
(48 calibers long barrel)
|7.62 mm coaxial PKT machine gun |
12.7 mm antiaircraft NSVT machine gun
|Engine||А-85-2 diesel engine|
Object 187 (Объект 187) was a Soviet experimental tank built around 1989. It was one of the least known to the general public because of the high degree of secrecy.
The work on the tank was conducted by the Ural Design Bureau of Transport Machine-Building under a T-72B improvement program with an order dated June 19, 1986. Conceived as a promising tank, it was designed to fulfil the operational requirements unmet till then by the rest of the main battle tanks built by the Uralvagonzavod. The tank was fitted with a cutting-edge systems and structural solutions, losing many of the traditional shortcomings of the Soviet tanks, and at the same time intended to be only a temporary solution until the development of new combat platforms. Object 187 was a parallel project to the Object 188, the T-90 tank. It was based on the T-72B but with heavily modified turret. A radical solution became the rejection of the T-64 hull design. The layout of the tank underwent small unpacking, which positively affected the ergonomics and the protection of the upper hull front. Due to lengthening of the hull's nose section, the driver's place was deep into the hull with his optics placed onto the roof of the hull, unlike the T-64 and its derivatives. This also became the solution to the notorious weak spot of the tank at that section between the turret and the hull. The same solution made it possible to arrange armoring at more rational angles of inclination as a countermeasure to the modern sub-caliber armor-piercing rounds. The tank was fitted with a new welded turret, unlike the traditional cast ones, made out of sheets with an average hardness. At that time, practically simultaneously, was conducted work on the welded turrets of the Object 187, Object 188 (T-90) and the future T-80UD. The turret of Object 187 was characterized by the most imposing overall size, especially in the rear section. The armor of the tank was supplemented by the new Malahit explosive reactive armour, a prototype of the present Relikt, and by the Shtora active protection system. The maximum physical passive armor thickness of Object 187 was 950 mm, which possibly consisted of special materials including ceramic or high density uranium alloys. Object 187 had the best protection of all 3rd generation tanks.
The primary armament of the tank was the 125 mm 2A66 smoothbore gun with an increased ballistics. Together with the gun, a new sub-caliber armor-piercing round made of uranium was developed. The gun had a different appearance. A muzzle brake was installed to keep the line of sighting of the guidance system clear for guiding missiles, as a main purpose, and for decreasing the length of the recoil since the power of the gun was increased. During the testing process, some of the variants were fitted with the 125 mm 2A46M smoothbore gun of the T-80B. The 2A66 gun was based on the 2A46M as a transitional version between the 2A26 gun and the new generation 2A82 gun. The 2A66 had the same barrel length as the 2A46M but the breech of the gun was increased to accommodate the larger round, with an increased charge, and the barrel hardness was increased too.
The 902A "Tucha" grenade launcher for smoke and aerosol curtains, equipment for underwater crossings and equipment for anti-nuclear defense were also installed. The tank was equipped with the most advanced fire control system at that time. Something similar began to appear on the potential enemy tanks in the late 1990s.
Several types of power plants and transmissions were tested on the different modifications, including a gas-turbine engine. Most promising of the power plants in the course of tests was the 1200 hp А-85-2 engine. It had a longitudinal configuration, same as the T-34. The tank received new undercarriage and hydraulic shock absorbers, which substantially increased the tank's dynamic abilities.
The tanks were built in three series. Each series differed significantly from the previous, clearly demonstrating the evolution of the tank. The differences inside were less significant.
- Object 187 model No. 1 was using an 840 hp engine. That variant was dismantled after its trials and its hull used for the model No. 3. The whole power plant of the model No. 1 was later used on the Object 188 (T-90). The tank was equipped with the Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armour.
- Object 187 model No. 2 had a 1000 hp engine. Its trials showed high level of protection against the contemporary weapons. The model No. 1 and model No. 2 were the closest in appearance to the future T-90 tank.
- Object 187 model No. 3 was intended originally for diverse experiments of a possible structural failure and for this reason it was never fully equipped. Unlike model No. 1 and model No. 2 it had a new welded turret made out of average hardness armored plates with a thickness of 40 mm each. The turret closely resembled those of the T-90S, T-90SA and T-90A. Their turret design was later based on the model No. 3's turret. The nose section of the hull was lengthened, the driver's place was deep into the hull, and his optics placed onto the roof of the hull. The tank was originally equipped with a 1000 hp engine, but as an experiment its engine was changed with the 1250 hp gas-turbine engine of the T-80U and also its transmission, with a change in the hydro-shock absorbers, and the tank sent to trials. The results showed an advantage of the diesel engine over the gas-turbine one. Furthermore, the tank underwent complex tests for anti-nuclear defense at the Arzamas-16 nuclear center. The tank was equipped with the Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armour.
- Object 187 model No. 4 was similar to the model No. 3 before the engine and transmission change. It had a new, increased in sizes, welded turret. That variant was equipped with the 1200 hp А-85-2 engine. It also received the new Malahit explosive reactive armour, a prototype of the present Relikt, with the knock-out panels made of sufficiently massive titanium plates. These panels were later changed with 30 mm steel plates imitating the absent real panels. The purpose of this was to prevent a loss of the panels.
- Object 187 model No. 5 and Object 187 model No. 6 were the most advanced variants. The difference between them was in the transmission. The model No. 5 had a mechanical transmission while the model No. 6 was using a hydro-transmission. Both variants used the 1200 hp А-85-2 engine. The nose section of the hull was increased in size even more, and changed in form. The welded turret was increased in size again, with a width of 3.12 meters (without the explosive reactive armour). The protection of the turret was significantly increased. It had the widest turret rear of all welded turret Soviet tanks. These variants had the same Malahit explosive reactive armour, as model No. 4, but with the knock-out panels made of armored steel plates instead of titanium.
The Uralvagonzavod undertook enormous efforts for this tank to be adopted, but in the end after all successful trials and clearly high combat and technical potential the tank was not accepted. Instead, the preferred project was the Object 188 (T-90), which was a symbiosis of the T-72B's hull and some of the Object 187's systems. According to its chief designer Vladimir Ivanovich Potkin, Object 187 should have become the foundation for design and production of the entire family of Soviet tanks to come, and even to serve as a foundation for more advanced and powerful tanks.
Even today the secrecy upon this tank remains. In view of this, all of the scarce data about this tank lies upon presumptions. Even the scale model of Object 187 model No. 6, built by Ural Design Bureau of Transport Machine-Building employees, still stays on the UKBTM premises, with a possibility for a transfer to the armor museum of Uralvagonzavod for storage and exhibition. To the persistent requests of the armor museum of Uralvagonzavod about the transfer of at least one Object 187 for restoration and subsequent demonstration in the museum complex, the answer is always negative referring to secrecy. However, according to some sources, the Kubinka Tank Museum plans to conduct a repair of the remaining tanks with a subsequent open demonstration.
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