The T-72 is a Soviet/Russian main battle tank. A cheaper, less-advanced version of its contemporary, the T-64, the tank is one of the most produced combat vehicle of the modern era. Since its introduction to service in 1971, it has and continue to equip many armies across the world. It has also been produced in different countries, both with and without licence, and upgraded with non-Soviet equipment.
The T-64, from which the T-72 was developed, was designed to replace the older T-55, the most-produced tank in history, in Soviet service. While the T-64 became one of the most sophisticated tank of the era, it was too expensive to mass-produce for the entire Soviet tank force, let alone her Warsaw Pact allies and friendly communist countries. In the event of a global war against Western capitalist countries, the number of T-64 would probably not be sufficient to counter the equally numerous Western tanks. It was then decided that a simplified T-64 was to be made, and this evolved design is then known as the T-72.
The T-72 proved to be very popular, Ever since it first rolled out from the factories in 1970's, thousands of examples have been produced. Countries such as Iraq even produced their own version (known as the Lion of Babylon). With upgrades, the T-72 became as powerful as the newer, more expensive T-80.
The T-72 proved to be a match for its immediate contemporaries such as the American M-60 Patton, British Chieftain and even the heavily-armored Israeli Merkava tanks. It was eventually outclassed by the latest generation of Western tanks such as the M1 Abrams or Challenger 2 as shown in the Gulf War in 1991. This however, did not stop the T-72 from remaining in service with many armed forces around the world.
The newer T-90 is partially a modification of the T-72, incorporating elements from the T-80.
The T-72 is often found on OPFOR side, as they are often either ex-Soviet country or was a Soviet-aligned country in the Cold War.
ArmA 2 Edit
The T-72 is used by almost all factions in ArmA 2 and its expansion, Operation Arrowhead. In many of these factions, the T-72 is their most powerful ground vehicle. Unlike what may be expected in reality, the T-72 in all factions have equal capabilities. Historically however, non-Soviet countries generally receive downgraded export versions and as such, the Russian T-72 is likely to be more powerful.