2A46M gun with T-80-style autoloader and gunner's instruments
The 2A46 and 2A46M lines of mainguns (internal designations D-81T, D-81TM) were developed by the Spetstekhnika design bureau in Ekaterinburg (former Sverdlovsk), and are manufactured at the Motovilikha artillery plant in Perm.
The 125mm high-velocity maingun was a huge overkill when it was first introduced on a T-64A MBT back in 1969. Today, however, it is barely able to keep on par with the modern Western mainguns like Rh-120. Its inability to reliably penetrate frontal projections of modern MBTs is the main reason why the Russian designers are developing a 152mm maingun to substitute the 2A46 gun on a perspective Russian MBT.
However, even with tungsten alloy rounds this gun remains a very dangerous adversary that assures penetration of any other projection at all battle ranges.
One of the drawbacks of this gun is that a high strain on internal surfaces during firing, as well as sheer size of it demands strict manufacturing discipline of which Soviet industry was never famous. This resulted in unsatisfatory dispersion characteristics of original models due to all kinds of manufacturing defects, including substandard materials, poor machining, barrel drooping, and so on. It is worth noting, however, that this problem has received due attention during the upgrading efforts (2A46M line of mainguns), including the purchase of the Western machining equipment. Improved manufacturing process and better stabilization and recoil equipment provided for increase in accuracy especially on the move and at medium to long ranges.
The barrel life of an original 2A46 gun was 210 APFSDS rounds or 840 HEAT/HEF rounds, or around 500 'generic' rounds, according to the Polish data provided by Mike Jasinsky. Russian sources give the figure of 900 rounds, but it is not known of what type. The barrel life of 2A46M guns is unknown, but modernization included the addition a more robust internal chromium liner and provided for a simple gun barrel replacement in field conditions.
As a last note, the unique feature of all Russian mainguns is the ability to launch guided rounds through the barrel.
Specifications (2A46M-2 with T-90 FCS and autoloader): Designation 2A46M-2 Internal designation D-81TM-2 Type Smoothbore Caliber 125 mm Features Bore Evacuator, Thermal sleeve, Chromium liner Barrel replaceable in field conditions Recoil devices 2, symmetrical Free recoil until the round clears the barrel Recoil length 300 mm Barrel length 6383 mm 51 caliber Barrel life >500 shots Gun weight 2500 kg Max.barrel pressure 5200 N/cm2 Ammunition separately loaded w/semicombustible propellant case 4Zh63 Ammunition types: APFSDS, HEAT, HEF, ATGM Practical ROF autoloader 8 rds/min manual 2 rds/min ATGMs out to 5km with autoloader 3 rds/min Effective range direct fire vs. 2m high target HEAT 1010 m APFSDS 2120 m with FCS HEAT/APFSDS 4000 m HEF 5000 m HEF indirect 10000 m Max.range with APFSDS >80 km
2A46 guns at Motovilikha plant
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