T-72B3 is one of the latest modernization of the ageing T-72B tanks that start being delivered to the Russian military forces in 2013. Actually it is a downgraded version of t-72B2 "Rogatka" and can be seen as a low-cost alternative to it in order to keep older T-72B tanks operational. Upgraded T-72B3 tanks are equipped with the new engine, new fire control system, and new ballistic computer to reduce crew firing calculations and improve accuracy, and new thermal sight and have some other improvements.
The tank is fitted with the same 125-mm smoothbore-gun as its prior version. But the distinctive feature of the mechanism is that autoloader of the T-72B3 has some modifications and can use newly-developed munitions. This gun also launches AT-11 Sniper (NATO classification) anti-tank guided missiles in the same manner as ordinary projectiles. A total of 45 rounds are carried. 22 rounds are ready to use, while remaining are stored inside the hull. Secondary armament consists of coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun and roof-mounted anti-aircraft 12.7-mm machine gun. The 12.7-mm MG is controlled manually by the vehicle commander.
As already mentioned the tank has new fire control system and new ballistic computer. Gunner uses new sight with thermal imager produced in Belarus and named Sosna-U. This sight has day/night and all weather combat capability. The T-72B3 has a hunter-killer capability even though it lacks commander's panoramic sight. The tank is also fitted with new digital radio system.
This T-72 version, except Sosna-U has a couple of other specific features by which it could be easily distinguished from other tanks.
They are Kontakt-5 Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) arrangement, installed on the hurret, new meteorological sensor DVE-BS and caterpillar tracks with a parallel hinge (the same used at T-90).
In 2014 the T-72B3 tanks were noticed during a military conflict in Ukraine. Within the battle for Illovaisk one of these tanks was captured by Ukrainian armed forces and were used for breaching the mousetrap in August 2014. T-72B3 are operated by the Russian army only and are not known to have been “exported or operated” outside of Russia. Currently Russia possesses more than 500 T-72B3s.