Objects 287 and 775

Further development of Soviet heavy tanks was discontinued as a result of a decision taken against it in 1960 by Nikita Krushchev, who came to power in the mid-1950s and who doubted the future of tanks because of the appearance of anti-tank guided missiles.

Krushchev’s views did not put an end to the development of other types of tanks, but they steered some of it in a new direction. This manifested itself from 1957 onwards in a flurry of designs of tanks armed with missiles instead of guns. The earliest Soviet antitank guided missiles did not lend themselves, like those produced elsewhere, to installation in tanks, primarily because of the large span of their fins. They were therefore mounted initially on top of BRDM wheeled reconnaissance vehicles. But as new and less cumbersome missiles were developed, a T-62 tank was retrofitted with a new low-profile turret out of which popped a launcher with a 3M7 `Draken’ missile. Work on this missile-armed tank began as early as 1952 and a number was produced between 1968 and 1970 as IT or Istrebitel Tank (Tank Destroyer). Two battalions were equipped with it, but it was withdrawn from service in 1970.

Two more missile tanks were developed by 1961 or 1962, both based on the then newly built T-64 and both with only a two-man crew. In one of them, called Object 287, both crew members were seated in the front of the hull and operated an unmanned turret by remote control, the turret being fitted again with a pop-up launcher, in this case with a 3M15 Taifun missile. In the other tank, called Object 775, both crewmen were in the turret, which mounted a short-barrelled 125mm gun that fired unguided rockets or Rubin guided missiles. In their different ways, objects 287 and 775 embodied major departures from conventional tank designs and the latter was as adventurous in some respects as the US-German MBT-70 that began to be designed in 1964. In particular, it had its driver in a rotating turret, like the MBT-70, but whereas the latter still had three men in the turret Object 775 had only two. It was also one of the first tanks to be fitted with an adjustable hydropneumatic suspension, which, when it squatted, enabled it to reduce its already low overall height of 1.65m to even less.

The 125mm gun/missile launcher of Object 775 was conceptually similar to the 152mm XM81 gun/launcher adopted at about the same time for the US M551 Sheridan light tank and the M60A2 battle tank, but it was in advance of it in having an automatic loading system. However, it suffered from a number of serious problems, related among others to the radio command link of its missiles and the inevitable complication of driving controls created by the location of the driver in a rotating turret. The problems were not resolved and development of Object 775 was abandoned, but its combination of a gun with missiles launched through the gun tube foreshadowed a system later widely used in Soviet tanks.

Top vehicle is Taifun 9M15 (typhoon) was a Soviet missile developed to arm the Obiekt 287 missile tank based on the T-64 tank chassis.