Russia is developing an advanced version of its secret main battle tank with a new turret and gun under the Burlak program, according to military expert Alexey Khlopotov.
There was little in the way of updates on this project until last Wednesday when alleged photos of the Burlak tank with a modified turret surfaced on social media.
The Burlak program, which began in 2005, was aimed to replace Soviet-era main battle tanks with a common design by 2025. But due to financial problems, the project was frozen indefinitely.
The program covered develop a unified new two-man combat turret, usable on T-72, T-80 and T-90 series.
According to open-source, Burlak’s autoloader equipped with a dual feed system, one an existing T-72 series autoloader in the hull and another turret bustle autoloader capable to accommodate armor-piercing, fin-stabilized, discarding-sabot (APFSDS) ammunition with the much-elongated core. This was technically not a new concept – the same solution had been previously used in the Object 640 demonstrator. It allowed switching between shell types quite fast thanks a special two-round storage system.
A visual feature of the new project was the design of the tank turret is considerably longer with a long rear protrusion housing the ammunition.
Another interesting element was the interesting explosive reactive armour (ERA) design, placed in an opposite to the usual Russian designs such as the Kontakt-5. The ERA panels protrude outward from the turret from bottom to top rather than from top to bottom, creating a very distinctive look that’s difficult to mistake for any other design. The ERA installed was a system called Kaktus, or some further development thereof.
It is worth noting that the appearance of the tank turret has undergone a number of changes, which suggests that the Burlak program has received a new development.