Twenty-two months into Russia’s wider war on Ukraine, Ukraine’s main pre-war tank—the T-64—still is its most numerous tank.
This despite the slow arrival of hundreds of Western-made tanks. Most recently, American-made M-1s and German-made Leopard 1A5s.
But not every T-64 is the same. There are potentially 800 of the 50-year-old T-64s in Ukrainian service. A few haven’t changed at all since they left the Malyshev Factory in Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine, decades ago. Most have been rebuilt and upgraded. A few have been heavily upgraded.
The T-64BV1K Mod. 2022 might be the most upgraded subvariant of the most numerous T-64BV variant. But the 1K Mod. 2022 itself probably is very rare. There may be only a few—at most a few dozen—of the tanks in existence.
The Malyshev Factory announced the T-64BV1K Mod. 2022 in early 2022. But we got our first close look at the tank just this week, in a Ukrainian media dispatch from the front line outside Kharkiv. “The 1K with a 125-millimeter gun, after a deep modernization, is back in the game and successfully performs combat missions,” according to the report.
The three-person T-64 crew in the dispatch is proud of its 40-ton vehicle. “The tank can hit targets up to 2.5 miles in direct-fire mode,” one crew member boasted. He said the crew has struck Russian trenches, including one containing ammunition.
But the T-64BV1K Mod. 2022’s 125-millimeter smoothbore main gun isn’t new. And its fire-controls, paired with TPN-1-TPV thermal optics, aren’t any better than those on the previous major T-64BV variant, the Mod. 2017. The T-64BV1K Mod. 2022 has some additional armor over its fuel tanks, but that too is a feature of the more common T-64BV Mod. 2022.
The 1K has an 840-horsepower diesel engine instead of the 700-horsepower engine that propels most T-64s, but it seems other T-64BV variants also have the more powerful engine.
What the 1K Mod. 2022 does have that the 2017 variant and older T-64s don’t have is a suite of three NATO-standard digital radios, including one high-frequency model, that reportedly extend its communication range to an impressive 350 miles.
That allows a 1K Mod. 2022 crew both to fight and to coordinate other tanks crews and adjacent forces as they fight, too.
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