"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. More to come. 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 it’s 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, giving it one point more anti-tank than the T-64’s AT-8, and therefore a better ability to defeat its NATO counterparts at range.
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. Whether the missile comes stock or must be bought separately was not alluded to.
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.
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 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 Russian armed forces 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:||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 - SA-19 Grison|
|Tank Hunters:||Spandrel - Storm|
|Recon:||BMP-1 OP - BRDM-2|
|Aircraft:||SU-25 Frogfoot - MI-24 Hind|