On July 25, 2015, Twitter circulated a photograph of trains carrying T-80 tanks (or rather their "У" modification) with an indicative explosive reactive armor (ERA) "Kontakt" (a modified version of "Kontakt-5 "). The photo commentary reads "Saratov station - tanks convoy" https://twitter.com/bura_tino/status/625005077753929728.
Interestingly, similar T-80 tanks with Kontakt reactive armor recently began to be delivered to the Ukrainian armed forces from Kharkiv machine building plant having undergone repair and restoration.
Considering the information above, one can assume that Russian invaders are preparing new operation of T-80s redeployment to the illegal armed groups in the Donbas with the possibility of their subsequent legalization under the guise of "equipment captured in battles with the Ukrainian armed forces."
Also, we were able to determine that the T-80U tanks transported via Saratov by railway presumably belong to the 12th Guards Tank Regiment of the 4th Guards Tank Division, Unit 31985, based in Naro-Fominsk. The regiment has T-80U tanks in service. Tanks with similar camouflage appear on profile pictures of soldiers assigned to this regiment. For example, profile picture of the Russian serviceman Alexander Zhuravlev featured a tank with hull number 370 (http://vk.com/alex60rus19943011) (archive http://web.archive.org), the photo (http://vk.com/alex60rus19943011), archive (http://web.archive.org).
The photo was taken in Neklinovskiy district of the Rostov region, with the hull numbers of the T-80U tanks painted over, the same as on all other armored combat vehicles and MBTs that are prepared for the "road trip" to the Donbas. Based on these findings, one may conclude that the tanks identified in Saratov are transported to the Neklinovskiy district as reinforcement, right to the Ukrainian border adjacent to the area controlled by the armed gangs of the "LPR/DPR."
The Brod for the T-80U tank is a snorkel system combined with a hinged air filter. It protects the gas turbine engine from dust and dirt during movement, and also allows the tank traversing shallow water obstacles. The snorkel is attached to the turret and rotates along with it. The air system is fully enclosed when the turret is in its stowed position, which is when the gun barrel is turned to the right, centered right above the air duct system.
The air intake space behind the turret
This can't be a T-72, as there is no exhaust on the left side at the engine compartment level, and, since the Brod M system attached behind the turret is constructed differently on the T-64, this as well can't be T-64. Also, the T-64 has no air intake space behind the turret.
For the second post-war generation of the tanks Т-64, Т-72 and Т-80, OPVT ( ) was individually developed for each model. Main focus was on reducing preparation time for traversing water obstacles. On average, it would take 15-40 minutes to prepare a tank for traversing water obstacles, depending on the model. Partially, this was resolved by installing the Brod system on the tanks T-80U and T-80UD, which eliminates tank preparation time before traversing the water obstacle of up to 1.8 meters deep. Considering that water obstacles are quite common on battlefields, the introduction of this system allows the tanks more autonomy in traversing the water barriers without additional preparation time.
Also, remember that the T-80 tank can traverse water without the exhaust pipe, and can handle depths of up to four meters with just one air intake pipe. The full snorkel pipe system is located (suspended) in the tank's rear.
An example of the complete set of snorkeling pipes
"According to the , the 4th Guards Kantemirovskaya Tank Division is equipped with T-80U tanks, which corresponds with the conclusions made above. Having analyzed the photos and compared them with the area, we determined exactly where on the these photos were taken - at the railway station Neklinovka in the village of Pokrovskoye," the authors specify.
If you look closely at the painted-over serial number of the tank, you can see that the first digit is 3, the second is obscured, but the third can be seen quite clearly - it is a 5. So the number is 3*5. Number 302 is visible on the helmet of the tank's crewman, which means that his tank's number is 302. Next, we find his fellow soldier's photo dated February 2015 of a tank with the number 38*, most likely taken in the hangar of his unit 19612 in Naro-Fominsk. We can find the list of all the equipment assigned to the Kantemirovskaya Division with the tanks' serial numbers on the website of Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation .
A few photos from fellow combatants
As reported, uncontrolled sector of the border between the Russian Federation and Ukraine in the Luhansk region has an extensive water barrier - the Siverskyi Donets River. "It serves as a natural barrier against infiltration of the Russian terrorist forces along the occupied territory. We have repeatedly recorded reports of the Russian troops building , but deep wading is also a fast and convenient way to transfer equipment to the theater of operations. Only time will tell where the 4th Guards Tank Division of the Russian Federation "pop up" next," authors of the investigation summarize.