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Base of Design
Dissatisfied with continued confusion between the T-72 and T-55, Soviet field marshal Pyotr Koshevoy requested a new design be developed for deployment in East Germany, as "...The West Germans keep laughing at our post-war tanks. It really hurts the crew's feelings." Koshevoy suggested a redesign of the T-64, declaring, "That's one we could try." So they did.
The first T-80 rolled off the production line in 1976, four years earlier than expected. Officially designated as the T-80A, it was promptly sent to East Berlin, where General Secretary Erich Honeker immediately tooted its horn. For five years it served to distract the West Germans as Soviet manufacturing plants worked to improve the design, releasing the T-80Bee in '81. Featuring alternating black-and-yellow stripes across the entire frame, it was extremely popular with the pot-smoking hippies of Amerika. Unfortunately, this camouflage scheme only worked well in warm climates or valleys full of flowers, and so the design was soon replaced by the T-80BV, featuring better armour and more cup holders.
The T-80C through T-80T were never produced; nevertheless, KGB agents leaked documents to deceive Western spies and create the illusion that a new design was being released every day. Whether or not the West believed this is unknown, although in the Soviet Union General Secretary Konstantin Chernenko received a number of telephone calls from President Reagan asking, "Is it true?" McDonald's even released a series of T-80-themed toys in its Happy Meals, much to the joy of children all over the world.
The T-80U was the next development, improving everything about the tank except its mileage. Featuring a 930 kill-a-watt engine, it was a vast improvement over previous propulsion systems, reaching a maximum speed of 70km/h, 40km/h faster than most State-built cars of the time.
When Mikhail Gorbachev was elected General Secretary of the Soviet Union, he relocated T-80 production to Ukraine as part of his policies of glasnost and perestroika, explaining, "Our neighbours want to play, too." The move turned beneficial rapidly: Ukrainian mechanics continued to perfect the tank in three successive models, boosting firepower, lowering cost, and engineering the wheels to give the most menacing squeak. One of these models, the T-80UK was so popular with Britain that the Soviets temporarily broke tradition and exported nearly 20 tanks, now on display in museums. However, Gorbachev's radical move, along with most of his other reforms, caused the power-hungry Politburo much concern. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia stopped importing Ukrainian-made tanks and went back to building its own, although it took eight years before the
KGB FSB had stolen acquired enough technical blueprints to produce a new version.
Currently, the T-80 is most commonly employed by the Russian Federation. Ukraine continues to adapt its models, designated under the group name 'T-84'. Not to be outdone, Russia has released the T-80 PRO limited edition under the name 'Black Eagle'. Already 28 of these models have been sold to Korea and Red Alert 2 enthusiasts, who mistook them for jet aircraft.
The chassis of the T-80 keeps a very low profile like the T-64, and despises its T-55 cousin for being as nearly as prominent a target as the American M-60 Patton. Following the old Soviet philosophy of "Less is More", the T-80 is half to three-quarters the size of the M1 Abrams, while affording more cabin room (and so, more drinks) than any other Russian battle tank. It has often been described as the most manoeuverable tank on the planet, earning the nickname of the 'Flying Tank'. This compensates for the fact that engineers still cannot build the T-80 flat enough to pass under tollbooth gates.
The T-80 is equipped with a 125mm 2A46 smoothbore main gun, 7.62mm PKT coaxial machine gun, and 12.7mm NKVD political-repression machine gun (an anti-aircraft gun for non-Russian models). It is usually propelled by a gas turbine engine. Ukrainian models also run on diesel, and a perogie-based fuel system is currently in development.
- T-80 - Original production variant, improved variant of the T-64 with 1/10 the space available for crew members compared to the T-64. Additional improvements include new paints for the frontal skin, supposedly resembling Explosive Reactive Armor to scare off the Americans. (although the Soviets could barely afford to build such equipment in reality, provided they spent most of their GDP on vodka manufacturing.)
- T-80B - T-80 with a new smoke grenade missile system, the "Kobra" series. It is capable of firing 500 smoke screen rounds in just 10 seconds to aid in a quick escape.
- T-80A - Elite edition of the T-80B, this time equipped with the even superior "Refleks" series smoke screen missile system, capable of firing 2,500 smoke screen rounds every 10 seconds.
- T-80BV - T-80B with a enlarged gun and more colorful paint job, capable of scaring off more columns of M1 Abrams than the T-80B.
- T-80U - Upgraded T-80A boosting the frontal armor thickness to 40mm, passed Soviet army evaluations by surviving 2 hits at 1,500m range by an M4 Sherman. Upgraded exterior skin paints fakes the existence of composite, spaced, and explosive reactive armor.
- T-80UM-MV2-BV3KU - 21st century modernization complete with sophisticated on-board systems:
- NKB-851-B8K on-board toilet computer
- DR-352 vodka manufacturing computer
- TU-5881 American-Range Finder.
- AS-53 Crew Escape Prevention System with TUT-110 Internal Sabotage Prevention Computer.
- NRPPE-3851-G Crew Suicide Prevention System
- 2A46M1 main gun with red lights at gunpoint and equipped with the SA-2 speaker to make explosions sounds.
- T-80S - Indian export version of the T-80, stands for "Superman", resembling the challenges the crews will face once operating the vehicle. Knocked down systems in almost every area to prevent the Indians from ever finding out Putin's secret plan.
- T-80UK - Chinese export of the T-80 without fire control systems, laser-range finder, sloped armor, fire protection system, and lacks a main gun. It is essentially useless except for astonishing peasants in a propaganda video promoting Chairman Mao.