The ammunition for the mainguns
of the 2A46 line is of a separately-loaded type comprising 4Zh40, 4Zh52 or 4Zh63 semicombustible
propellant case and various battle parts that include APFSDS, HEAT, HEF, HE-Incendiary,
Illuminating and other types of ammunition.
Most of the ammo types are developed by the Research Machine-Building Institute
(NIMI). The propellant parts, utilizing pyroxyline-based powders, are produced by the Kotovsk Plastics Plant.
4Zh63 propellant case
One of the latest additions is a new 3BM42M armor-piercing, fin-stabilized
discarding sabot (APFSDS) round. Its penetrator's extended body, made of
a tungsten alloy, and high-energy powder propellant increase the piercing
effect by 20 percent, compared with a 3BM42 APFSDS currently in service with
the army. It features an unusual spool-shaped sabot with 'fins'. The existance
of a similar Ukrainian round, 3BM42U1, suggests a close connection or cooperation.
Also, NIMI is working on the 3VBK25 high-efficiency round with the 3BK29M
hollow-charge projectile which is intended to destroy heavily armored vehicles
protected by composite and explosion-reactive armor, as well as other armored vehicles,
targets hidden by engineer constructions, and personnel.
The company plans to start supplying both types of rounds in 1998-1999.
Ammunition types currently fielded with the military
All armor penetrations except 3BM32 are stated ratings (i.e. "will penetrate over ...")
All angles are vs. the normal to the armor.
- 3VBM3 (3BM9 projectile) maraging steel (DOI 1964)
410 mm 9:1 L/d; MV=1825m/s
340mm RHA at 0° at 0m; ~300mm RHA at 0° at 2000m
- 3VBM6 (3BM12 projectile) maraging steel (est.DOI 1969)
440 mm 10:1 L/d; MV=1825m/s
- 3VBM7 (3BM15 projectile) maraging steel with tungsten carbide plug (DOI UNKNOWN)
480mm 11:1 L/d, 100mm tungsten carbide nose plug; MV=1800m/s
370mm RHA at 0° at 0m; ~330mm RHA at 0° at 2000m
- 3VBM8 (3BM17 projectile) hardened steel/tungsten carbide (DOI UNKNOWN)
- 3BM32 DU Penetrator (First shown to the west in 1993; est.DOI 1988)
Total penetration route: 680mm RHA at 0° at 2000m
- 3VBM17 (3BM42 Tungsten Alloy Penetrator) (First shown to the west in 1993; est.DOI 1988)
250mm RHA at 60° at 1000m
230mm RHA at 60° at 2000m
Muzzle velocity 905 m/s
- 3VBK7 (3BK12M projectile) Copper Cone (DOI UNKNOWN)
- 3VBK10 (3BK14M projectile) Copper Cone (DOI UNKNOWN)
250mm RHA at 60°
- 3VBK16 (3BK18M projectile) Copper Cone (DOI UNKNOWN)
260mm RHA at 60°
- 3VBK17 (3BK21B projectile) DU Cone (DOI UNKNOWN)
- 3VBK25 (3BK29 projectile) (DOI UNKNOWN):
350-400mm RHA at 60°
320-340mm RHA at 60° behind External ERA
300-330mm RHA at 60° behind Integral ERA
- 3VBK27? (3BK31? projectile) Tripple Charge (DOI UNKNOWN):
3BK31? is designed to defeat vehicles with external ERA, integral ERA and/or composite armor
main structure; the precursor charge trips the external ERA, the first main charge trips the
integral ERA/"conditions" the composite and the last achieves destructive penetration. The
sequence of charges detonation is precursor -> rear charge -> middle charge.
An experimental HEAT round that is obviously in close relationship with 3BK29 was
displayed on VTTV-97 exhibition in Omsk. Its cutaway shows a very complex and ingenious design,
including shaped-charge precursor, the channel through the middle charge to allow passage of the
rear jet and so on. The round is credited with 800mm RHA penetration which was illustrated by a
picture of a 800mm penetration route. The picture shows that designers probably deliberately
misaligned the charges so that the middle jet doesn't need to penetrate the core of the rear one.
If the color of the liner is the same as that on the real round, it indicates that it is
not copper, and therefore may have a significantly improved performance against ceramic armors.
Experimental HEAT round
H,V deviation: <0.3mil
Round mass: 19kg
800mm pen. route
- 3VOF22 (3OF19 projectile) (DOI UNKNOWN)
- 3VOF36 (3OF26 projectile) (DOI UNKNOWN):
3.4kg of A-IX-2 explosive (TNT+RDX)
controlled fragmentation layer
- Ainet system:
T-80UK and T-90 MBTs are equipped with Ainet system that allows to electronically fuse HEF rounds to explode at predetermined moment of flight. In order to use the system the gunner must lase the target before loading the HEF round into the breech. The HEF round is passed by the auto-loader through an automatic fuse setter, which sets the fuse to explode at the correct distance; the fused round is then loaded into the gun and is ready to be fired. This system allows to efficiently use HEF rounds against the hovering helicopters as well as infantry and light armor in entrenched positions, out to 4 km and more. It appears that standard 3VOF36 rounds are compatible with this system.
Older 2A46 ammunition cutaways
T-90 MBT ammo loadout
(L-R: 6x3UBK20 ATGM, 10x3VBK25 HEAT,
8x3VBM17 APFSDS, 19x3VOF36 HEF)
This page is © 1998-2000, Sauron's Creations.
With contributions by Viktor Mourakhovsky, Trent J. Terenko, John Waters, and Steven Zaloga.