"The instrument of doom."
- – Apocalypse Tank, Red Alert 2
The Soviet version of the Bradley's horrible beauracratic design process, the T-80 series was the Soviet's answer to the third generation of Western main battle tanks like the Leopard 2, Challenger and the Abrams. Building on the principle of the T-64 as the premium battle tank of the Soviet shock armies, the T-80 would become defined for its horribly inconsistent gas turbine engine and unreliability while on the move.
In Team Yankee
The T-80 is the strongest tank available to Soviet ground forces, expected for release during Team Yankee version two. Based on the model, it looks like the variant Battlefront are going with is the T-80U. This model sported the famous 'Kontakt-5' reactive armor package, and image intensification sights in addition to all the classic Russian tank features you know and love. Expect The T80 to be a much closer match for NATO's newest and meanest tanks, both in tabletop performance and points cost. The bad news it could be the more reliable T80UD but priced like the Leopard 2 or even more costly.
One of Battlefront’s recent Twitch videos gives a preview of the T-80’s stats. The tank was confirmed to be the T-80U, being ‘numerically more popular’ to the UD variant. This beast will have front armour 20, side 10, and top 2. It will also be the first unit in the game to sport ERA. This will make it highly resilient if not totally immune to the infamous Milan and its equivalents, as well as making it impenetrable to nearly every tank gun in the game at long range.
In terms of firepower, the latest addition to the Soviet motor pool wields the trademark Soviet 125mm cannon with identical stats to the T-72 and T-64, and all the same implications as those tanks. However, it packs the AT-11 Sniper missile, with AT 22 and FP 3+, as well as a special rule called Tandem Warhead (does exactly what it does IRL, but the T-80 is the only tank currently with ERA in TY, so congrats you can shoot yourself in the foot, should you choose. Glory to the Motherland!). There is no explicit mention as to what this does as of yet, but if real tandem warheads are any indication, it will ignore ERA (and possibly other side armour boosting special rules). The missile has the HEAT special rule as well, and therefore a better ability to defeat heavier NATO tanks at long range than conventional gun rounds.
Points values were said to still be under review, but it was stated that five T-80s work out to 8 points per tank. Individual points are less easy to figure out for the moment, given that Soviets get a discount for the initial 3 vehicles. The missile is now confirmed to be optional, though points cost is unknown at this time.(You can take a squad of 3 for 22 but the missile is +1 per tank so say your prayers now to RNjesus that you will get your points back. Since each tank cost an additional 9points, 10 with missiles, maxing at 98points for 10 with missiles)
The preliminary assessment seems to indicate that someone looking to maximize pain should look elsewhere. The other T-series vehicles cost perceptibly less, but will still deliver similar levels of firepower per vehicle, missile aside. Where the T-80 stands out is being able to dish out that pain while laughing at most return fire. Milans, TOWs, and 120mm guns at ranges beyond 16” are fishing for bails at best. By the same token, those pesky NATO infantry with Carl Gs and SMAWs become almost a non-issue from any angle. In short, these tanks will take the best anti-tank the enemy can muster to properly put down. Because of their excellent armour, ability to reach out with its missile, and low numbers, a different approach will be required for the T-80. To avoid exposing its vulnerable sides, this tank will likely be better served fighting from afar until credible anti-tank has been neutralized instead of facehugging the enemy a la T-72. (Based off its stats and armaments these tanks are best used as anvils to hold points against the capitalists cyka's armour, blasting them at range with missiles while you camp bush, as all but an uparmoured Chally will be vulnerable to you at range. Since these guys are so expensive it's best to keep them there as everything short of the enemies' best AT assets will struggle to pen you, but you are vulnerable to AT 22 at short range, so be careful. Should you decide to get stuck in like the mad communist that you are or cause things have gone bad, your ERA grants you side 16 against Heat projectiles, but your low numbers will not keep you safe from an enveloping horde of infantry, i.e. watch out for flanks). TLDR: these boys operate kinda like Nato tanks but without the 4+ 3+ stats and some heavy long range firepower in low numbers, but have the option to take sizeable units.
T-80 Shock Company
Representing the best of the best the Soviet army has to offer, the T-80 Shock company is a very different beast from any formation yet seen by Soviet players. It gives the ability to field a small, elite formation as opposed to the massed parking lots so familiar to many. The astute may notice that it is designated as a company rather than a battalion, and this is not a typo. Consisting of an HQ and 2-3 platoons of 2-3 tanks each, it is comparable in size to NATO armoured formations. Available support includes a Shock Motor Rifle company, a Shock BMP 3 scout platoon, a SPAAG platoon of either Shilkas or Tunguskas, a SAM platoon of Gaskins or Gophers, and a Carnation battery. It is noteworthy that the stats discussed below belong only to the tanks, infantry, and scouts: support units have the typical Soviet stat line.
Anything with the “Shock” designation is hit on a 4+, has 3+ Skill, and one better Assault rating than is normal. Different units benefit to varying degrees from the boost to Assault and Skill, but the 4+ to hit is very solid for an army with a universal 3+. The T-80s themselves are still the same tank as the standard version, but now more difficult to hit and able to reliably shoot and scoot to avoid the worst of enemy return fire.
Points values as seen in a preview make this a pricy formation, with the command tank costing 10 points, and a full platoon of 3 vehicles racking up another 29. Though they are still less expensive than three Challengers, it is not by much. AT-11 missiles are available, and still cost 1 point per tank.
The takeaway message is that this formation will fill the vast majority of a 100 point force, and will have to rely on its own fighting power rather than extensive support. It is also likely to find itself heavily outnumbered by even M1IPs, to say nothing of second generation vehicles. As a result, it will have to play a far more subtle game than is typical for Soviets, and avoid casualties as much as possible. If NATO tactics using Russian equipment are what you’re after, then this is the formation for you! As an added bonus, it can make playing Soviets mercifully cheap in real-life currency.
In Real Life
Visually similar to the T-72, any Western commander who mistook it as such would be in for a shock: the T-80 was a frighteningly deadly weapon, combining the 125mm cannon with BDD armour superior to the T-64's, reactive armour blocks and the latest tank-killing shells the Soviet Union had to offer. Later versions like the T-80B would even have the ability to fire Kobra missiles, allowing it to outrange the latest Western tanks of the time. As of 1985, T-80U was arguably the best tank around: heavy ERA "Kontakt-5" made it pretty much immune to anything Westerners could reasonably throw at it, while newest munitions had a good chance of penetrating both Leopard-2 and M1A1 Abrams.
Unfortunately, gas turbine engines tend to require a lot of fuel to sustain. The US was able to sustain having those engines in their Abrams due to having ALL THE OIL, but Russia and its dead-in-the-water economy could not. Due to the increased costs of feeding and maintaining said engine, the Russians made the diesel T80UD for its armed forces but eventually decided to stick with the T-72. Eventually the T-72 would evolve into T-72BU or the T-90: a T-72 with better armor, an improved engine, the advanced fire control systems and APS found within the T-80 turret, provisions for ERA and loads of other smaller upgrades that essentially make it an entirely new tank.
Today, the T-80 remains the core of the Russian tank corps alongside heavily modernized T-72s. The T-80 might lack the reliability and fuel-economy of modern T-90 variants, but the Modern Russian Federation has the petroleum infrastructure the Union lacked to feed these gas guzzling monsters and so these tanks can keep up with all but the absolute best armour of the West.
|Soviet Forces in Team Yankee|
|Tanks:||T55AM2 - T-62M - T-64 - T-72 - T-80|
|Transports:||BTR-60 - BMP-1 - BMP-2 - BMP-3|
|Troops:||Motor Rifle Company - Hind Assault Landing Company - Afghansty Air Assault Company|
|Artillery:||2S1 Carnation - 2S3 Acacia - BM-21 Hail - TOS-1 Buratino - BM-27 Uragan|
|Anti-Aircraft:||ZSU 23-4 Shilka - SA-13 Gopher - SA-9 Gaskin - SA-8 Gecko - 2S6 Tunguska|
|Tank Hunters:||Spandrel - Storm|
|Recon:||BMP-1 OP - BRDM-2|
|Aircraft:||SU-25 Frogfoot - MI-24 Hind|