M-84: A Yugoslav version of the Soviet T-72 tank

Author: Eric Sof

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M-84 is the main battle tank developed in Yugoslavia on the chassis of the Soviet T-72 with the license bought from the Soviet Union. It was named by the year when it entered into the service. It was manufactured from 1984 to 1991. The total number of M-84 tanks produced was around 650.

Key recognition features

  • Well-sloped glacis plate with driver’s position top center, distinctive V splash plate on the glacis, turret center of the hull, engine, and transmission at the rear, exhaust outlet on left side hull above last road wheel station.
  • Circular turret, raised cupola with external 12.7 mm machine gun on the right of the roof, stowage box rear and right, snorkel left side, infra-red searchlight right of 125 mm gun with a thermal sleeve and fume extractor. Unditching beam and long-range fuel drums are sometimes fitted at the rear. Mounted on the forwarding part of the turret roof is a distinctive pole-type sensor for the fire control system, which is not seen on the Russian T-72 main battle tank.
  • Suspension on each side has six road wheels, drive sprocket rear, idler front, and three track return rollers. Rubber skirts usually cover the upper part.

Development

The M-84 is essentially the Russian T-72 manufactured under license in former Yugoslavia with many Yugoslav-designed sub-systems, for example, the fire control system. The prototypes of the M-84 were completed in 1982-83, with production commencing in 1983-84, and the first production vehicles were completed in 1984. It is estimated that by early 1992 over 600 had been built for the home and export markets. Following the Yugoslav war, production of the M-84 stopped, although more recently, Croatia has unveiled the Main Battle Tank (MBT) called the M-95 Degman, which is similar to M-84 but has a new armor package.

M-84 Main Battle Tank
M-84 Main Battle Tank (Photo: XY)

The layout of the M-84 is identical to that of the T-72, with the driver being seated at the front of the vehicle in the center, a two-man turret in the center of the hull, the gunner on the left, and the commander on the right with the powerpack at the rear. The M-84 main battle tank has no loader as the vehicle is fitted with an automatic loader for the 125 mm gun, which has an elevation of +13 degrees and a depression of -6 degrees with a turret traversing a full 360 degrees emergency use. Types of 125 mm ammunition fired include HE-FRAG, HEAT-FS, and APFSDS-T.

T-72 at the Chebarkul Training Ground in Russia in 2017
T-72 at the Chebarkul Training Ground in Russia in 2017 (Photo: Wiki)

Operational history

During the wars in Yugoslavia, M-84 was the most sophisticated armored vehicle used by all sides in the conflict. From the war in Slovenia to Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, and finally in Kosovo War. Dozens of those tanks were destroyed.

M-84 as the monument in Vukovar, Croatia
M-84 as the monument in Vukovar, Croatia (Photo: XY)

Variants

Yugoslavia

  • ARV – is believed to exist, although no firm details are available
  • M-84A – latest production model with a number of improvements, including a more powerful 1,000 hp engine that gives a higher speed and improved power-to-weight ratio; it also has enhanced armored protection.
  • M-84AB with an improved system of fire, which included a DNNS-2 day/night visor, stabilized cannon, and laser range finder. Also had TNP-160 periscope, TNP-65 reserve persicope, DNKS-2 day/night visor for commander and TNPO-168V for drivers persicope. M-84AB also has a newer communication system. Around 150 M-84AB variants were sold to Kuwait, and they took part in the First Gulf War.
  • M-84ABN – version with communication system
  • M-84ABK – command version of a vehicle equipped with the communication system for more variants of communication
  • M-84AI – repair vehicle with 12.7 machine gun and hydraulic arm

Croatia

  • M-84A4 Sniper – better fire control management and new German diesel motors with 1100 hp. Since 2008, all Croatian M-84 tanks have been modernized to the M-84A4 standard.
  • M-95 Degman – Croatian tank built on the chassis of the M-84. It had a new turret with reactive armor.
  • M-84D with reactive armor, fire control system based on Omega digital ballistic computer from Slovenian company Fotona, a new turret rotation system, and air condition. The vehicle charger was 15% faster than the same one of the older versions of the M-84. The turret also had a remote-controlled machine gun in 12.7 mm caliber.
Croatian M-84 tanks at Zagreb military parade in 2015
Croatian M-84 tanks at Zagreb military parade in 2015 (Photo: XY)

Serbia

M-84AB1 (M-84AS) – was introduced in 2004 with an improved fire system with integrated day-night sight. The old turret was replaced with the new one capable of launching anti-tank rockets. As the danger of the modern anti-tank weapons, M-84AB1 has a reactive armor and Stora-1 defense system.

Technical specifications

Country of origin:Yugoslavia
Manufacturers:Former Yugoslav state factories, including
Đuro Đaković
Crew:3
Armament:1 x 125 mm, 1 x 7.62 mm machine gun (coaxial), 1 x 12.7 mm machine gun (anti-aircraft), 12 smoke grenade dischargers (one bank of five and one of seven)
Ammunition:42 x 125 mm, 2,000 x 7.62 mm, 300 x 12.7 mm
Length gun forwards:9.53 m
Length hull:6.86 m
Width overall:3.57 m
Height to turret top:2.19 m
Ground clearance:0.5
Weight, combat:42,000 kg
Power-to-weight ratio:23.8 hp/tonne
Ground pressure:0.81 kg/cm2
Engine:V-12 water-cooled, supercharged diesel developing 780 hp at 2,000 rpm
Maximum road speed:65 km/h
Maximum road range:700 km
Fuel capacity:1,200 lit (estimate)
Fording:1.2 m
Fording with preparation:5 m with snorkel
Vertical obstacle:0.85 m
Trench:2.8 m
Gradient:60%
Side slope:30%
Armor:classified
Armor type:Composite/steel
NBC system:Yes
Night vision equipment:Yes (commander, gunner, and driver)
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