Russian agency TASS reported that Russia’s 201st military base stationed in Tajikistan will receive the first batch of 30 advanced T-72B3M tanks with improved combat properties on December 6. T-72B3M, also referred to as T-72B4, is an upgraded variant of the T-72B3 main battle tank developed by Uralvagonzavod Research and Production Corporation. The layout of the T-72B3M is identical to that of the standard T-72 with driver’s cab at forward hull, fighting compartment in the centre and the power-pack at the rear. The Russian Central Military District Commander Colonel-General Alexander Lapin announced in early November that Russia’s 201st military base stationed in Tajikistan would be rearmed with 30 upgraded T-72B3M tanks.
The T-72B3M tank is manned by a crew of three, including a driver, a commander and a gunner. The tank features an advanced fire control system and a new thermal sight. The commander is provided with a new panoramic sight with thermal vision. The fire control system is interfaced with Sosna-U sighting system and a ballistic computer. The mobility and combat characteristics of the tank have also been improved to compete with the most advanced tanks worldwide. The middle section of the forward hull houses the driver, while the turret accommodates the other two crew members. The T-72B3M tank is also equipped with radio systems for encrypted digital voice and data transfer, snorkels for deep fording, and a built-in blade for self-entrenching.
The T72B3M is armed with a 2A46M5 125mm smoothbore gun, which is an advanced version of the 2A46M cannon. It can fire a range of ammunition, including armour-piercing discarding sabot (APDS), high-explosive fragmentation (HEF) and high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT), as well as 9M119 Refleks (NATO codename: AT-11 Sniper) guided anti-tank missiles. The projectiles and missiles are loaded by an auto-loader. The AT-11 Sniper missile has a maximum range of 4,000m and can engage tanks fitted with explosive reactive armour. The secondary armament includes a co-axial 7.62mm PKTM machine gun and a roof-mounted 12.7mm NSV heavy machine gun. The turret is also mounted with a bank of eight smoke grenade dischargers.
The Russian 201st Military Base is a Russian military base based in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, part of the Central Military District. Under an agreement signed in October 2012, Russia’s military base in Tajikistan will remain until 2042. It was originally raised twice in World War II as part of the Soviet Union’s Red Army and is now part of the Russian Ground Forces. The 201st military base stationed in Tajikistan is Russia’s largest military facility outside its borders. The military base is stationed in the cities of Dushanbe and Bokhtar. The military base comprises motor rifle, armored, artillery and reconnaissance units, air defense forces, radiation, chemical and biological protection and signal troops.