- Object 187
Object 187 Type Main battle tank Place of origin Soviet Union Production history Designer Vladimir Ivanovich Potkin
UKBTM - Ural Design Bureau of Transport Machine-Building
Designed late 1980s - middle 1990s Manufacturer Uralvagonzavod Specifications Weight 50 metric tons Crew 3 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 main battle tank developed from late 1980s to middle 1990s. It was one of the least known to the general public because of the high level of secrecy surrounding the project.
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 902A "Tucha" grenade launcher for smoke and aerosol curtains, and equipment for underwater crossings were also installed.
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.
During the testing process some of the Object 187 modifications were fitted with the 125 mm 2A46M smoothbore gun of the T-80B. The primary armament of the tank though 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 2A66 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. The barrel hardness was strengthened, and the breech increased to accommodate the larger round, with an incremented charge. 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.
The 2A66 was based on the 2A46M as a transitional version between the 2A26 gun and the new generation 2A82 smoothbore gun. The 125 mm 2A82 was earlier, late 1970s, tested on the experimental tank Object 785, which was also testing a 130 mm riifled gun. Around the same time, when Object 187 was in development, the work on yet another rare breed of experimental tanks was in progress. This was the Object 292, armed with a much more powerful 152.4 mm rifled gun. Similar projects, mainly for up-arming, did exist in the western countries. Few years prior to Object 187 the Americans developed their CATTB, armed with a 140 mm gun. Few years later Germany developed the Leopard 2-140, armed again with a 140 mm gun. Later the Swiss developed the Pz 87-140, armed with a 140 mm gun and using an additional armor. The enhancement of these five tanks though was concerning largely their armament, while the Object 187 was mainly focused on the extreme level of protection, surpassing even today all third generation tanks. The next generations of tanks though are already combining both. The Chinese Type 99KM is an example of possible superiority. It's armed with a powerful 155 mm gun firing next generation kinetic rounds or precision guided missiles, and using a more effective active protection system. The Russian Object 195 though is claimed to be so advanced that no one has developed anything similar.
The Object 187 used a composite armour for the turret and the hull front, and a rolled homogeneous armour for the rest of the tank. The passive armor was supplemented by the new Malahit explosive reactive armour, a prototype of the present Relikt, and by the Shtora active protection system. It also had a CBRN protection. The maximum physical thickness of the passive armor was reaching up to 950 mm, which possibly consisted of special materials including ceramic or high density uranium alloys.
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 fulfill the operational requirements unmet till then by the rest of the main battle tanks built by Uralvagonzavod. The different modifications of Object 187 were built in three series. Each series differed significantly from the previous, clearly demonstrating the evolution of the tank. The interior differences were less significant.
The first modification was using an 840 hp engine. The tank was equipped with the Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armour. That modification was dismantled after its trials and its hull used for the third modification. The whole power plant of the tank was later used on the Object 188 (T-90).
The second modification had a 1000 hp engine. Its trials showed high level of protection against the contemporary weapons. The 1st and the 2nd mods were the closest in appearance to the future T-90 tank.
The third modification was intended originally for diverse experiments of a possible structural failure and for this reason it was never fully equipped. Unlike 1st and 2nd mods, the 3rd mod 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 3rd mod'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.
The fourth modification was similar to the 3rd mod before the engine and transmission change. It had a new, increased in sizes, welded turret. That modification 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.
The fifth and sixth modifications were the most advanced. The difference between them was in the transmission. The 5th mod had a mechanical transmission while the 6th mod was using a hydro-transmission. Both modifications 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 protection of the turret was significantly improved. It was increased in size again, reaching a width of 3.12 meters (without the explosive reactive armour), and had the widest rear of all welded turret Soviet tanks. These modifications had the same Malahit explosive reactive armour, as the 4th mod, but with the knock-out panels made of steel armor 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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