"Knowledge is power."
Altank's Reviews: Chapter I, The Black Eagle.
Patch 1.22 version; last update: 06/08/15.
The Black Eagle, also known as Object 640, is a result of radical upgrade of the T-80U main battle tank.
This Russian main battle tank prototype uses lengthened hull of the T-80U, with an extra pair of road wheels added. The Black Eagle is completed with a very large brand new turret, containing a large bustle with autoloader and ammunition. The tank features a very low silhouette and it would indeed represent the lowest main battle tank in the world.
A mock-up of the tank was revealed in 1997 and an early prototype was shown in 1999, however the development of the Black Eagle main battle tank was stopped as the whole programme was halted due to the lack of funds and, most importantly, to the terrible performance of the T-80, upon which it was modeled, in the first Chechen war. Furthermore, the company responsible for the Black Eagle's design has been in a state of bankruptcy since 2002.
Colonel Vladimir Voitov, head of research at the Main Directorate of the Armored Troops, denied the existence of the tank in an interview with the Echo Moskvy radio in September 2009. "There was no such project...and those 20-year-old pictures show a mock-up of a futuristic tank which remained just a product of someone's imagination," ... "the turret of the vehicle did not have anything inside."
Nevertheless it was announced that some technical solutions developed for the Black Eagle tank will be incorporated into the Armata Universal Combat Platform which is currently in development.
2. -In-game overview:
The Black Eagle, abbreviated BE, is probably the most known tank in the game. Although still being a very fearsome opponent and a nightmare when dealing with more than one, its almost complete supremacy on the battlefield seems to be over.
Surely this tanks is the most expensive one in the game, having a very high price of 28000 silver coins (this purchase option is unlocked once reaching rank 45, Major General Grade 1) or of 1500 gold coins (this purchase option is unlocked once reaching rank 41, Colonel Grade 1).
The Black Eagle has the highest level among all the units featured in the Soviet/Russian tech tree, following in its line the T-90A, starting at level 64 and reaching level 71.
Aside from the very high rank required to unlock this tank, the Black Eagle also features very expensive upgrades; therefore one should be aware that bringing this tank to its full potential will require a lot of time as well as patience, most likely raising the question if that's really worth it.
3. -Development and upgrades:
Black Eagle's starting stats:
Reloading speed: 1.7
Turret rotation speed: 30.0
Damage per minute: 11858.8
Fully upgraded Black Eagle's stats:
Reloading speed: 1.5
Turret rotation speed: 46.0
Damage per minute: 13400.0
- Hull upgrades: two-tier hull upgrade available.
The Black Eagle features a two-tier hull upgrade; both of them are required in order to acquire most of the other upgrades and don't change the tank's appearance; as of patch 1.22.
3.2 -Health pool:
- Health pool upgrades: no upgrades available.
The Black Eagle doesn't feature any health upgrade and, even worse, the tank's starting health pool is slightly below average. However, this may be also considered an advantage, as, even in the worst of the situations, only one health box will be required to restore almost all of the tank's hit points.
3.3 -Armour and active protection system:
- Passive armor upgrades: two-tier upgrade available.
- Reactive armor upgrades: three-tier upgrade available.
- Spaced armor upgrades: two-tier upgrade available.
- Active protection system upgrades: three-tier upgrade available.
The Black Eagle features a high degree of protection against variety of anti-tank weapons, appearing to have very thick sloped front armor and explosive reactive armor of new generation, Kaktus ERA and Kontact 5 ERA, on the hull and the turret. It also incorporates either Drozd-2 or Arena active protection system and Shtora-6 and Shtora-8B visual protection systems.
Despite the tank's base armour level being quite high, the Black Eagle features, nevertheless, a two-tier upgrade of passive armour, a two-tier upgrade of spaced armour and a three-tier upgrade of reactive armour, which make this behemoth one of the most heavily armoured tanks in the game.
This tank also features a three-tier upgrade of active protection system, that should be bought at least until the second tier, as the Drozd 2 only gives a 120-degree protection arc against ATGMs.
3.4 -Main gun and ammo:
- Main armament upgrades: no upgrades available.
The early prototype of the Black Eagle, shown in 1999, was completed with a 125mm main gun. However a planned production model was proposed with a 135mm, a 140mm, or even a 152mm main gun. It would have a range of effective fire of up to 10 km. It could also have the capability to launch anti-tank guided missiles in the same manner as ordinary projectiles.
Despite the capability of accomodating even a 152mm gun, the Black Eagle's damage is slightly below average, compared to the other high tier tanks', probably hinting that the in-game version is fitted with the 125mm 2A46 gun: surely a way to make the tank more balanced.
Evidence supporting this theory is the total absence of any upgrade of the main gun.
The different types of ammo available for the tank's gun are:
- Armor Piercing (AP): one-tier ammo upgrade available;
- Armor Piercing Discarding Sabot (APDS): one-tier ammo upgrade available;
- High Explosive Anti Tank (HEAT): one-tier ammo upgrade available;
- High Explosive (HE): one-tier ammo upgrade available;
- Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM): one-tier ammo upgrade available.
- Engine upgrades: four-tier upgrade available.
Speculations have been made that the Black Eagle is powered by a gas turbine engine, developing 1500hp. With external fuel tanks this MBT could have a range of up to 1000 km.
The Black Eagle features a four-tier upgrade of the engine, which supplies enough power for the tank to reach around 60 km/h; however, the Black Eagle is, somehow, not very agile; also, despite the high forward speed, its reverse speed is very low, although not as terrible as the T90's, and going backwards should always be avoided.
It's also worth mentioning the Black Eagle seems to have, as a result of tests run with thermal vision, an oversized engine, that may represents a major downside, because of the higher chance of engine fires and engine breakdowns after being hit. This problem is also emphasized by the absence of reactive armor on the sides of the engine compartment, however, spaced armor is present.
3.6 -Reloading system:
- Reloading system upgrades: one-tier upgrade available.
The Black Eagle design has abandoned carousel-style autoloader. Its new autoloader is mounted in the turret bustle. New autoloader also incorporates blow-out ammunition compartment. Its rate of fire is speculated to be 10-12 rounds per minute. It is worth mentioning that the most serious drawback of all Cold War era Soviet MBTs was an ammunition storage area inside the hull: latest military conflicts revealed in fact that ammunition tend to explode after being hit, killing all the crew and ripping the whole turret off.
The Black Eagle features a very expensive one-tier upgrade of the reloading system, achieving one of the highest proper reloading gun speed of the game, the highest being the K2 Black Panther's.
3.7 -Turret rotation system:
- Turret rotation system upgrades: two-tier upgrade available.
This Russian tank features a two-tier upgrade of the turret rotation system, allowing to perform a full rotation in less than 8 seconds. Being the Black Eagle not very agile, particularly when countermeasures are to be taken in order to avoid being outflanked, this is a very good news.
3.8 -Additional upgrades:
- Radio upgrades: one-tier upgrade available
- Radar upgrades: two-tier upgrade available
- Smoke grenade dischargers upgrades: three-tier upgrade available.
- Infrared optics upgrades: one-tier upgrade available.
- Thermal optics upgrades: one-tier upgrade available.
- Fording kit upgrades: one-tier upgrade available.
- Floating kit upgrades: no upgrades available.
4. -How to get the best out of it (Role) and How to deal with one (Countermeasures):
Now that we have analyzed the characteristics of the Black Eagle it's time to sum up:
-All round armor.
-Exceptional reactive armour and spaced armour upgrades.
-Very high speed.
-Above average rate of fire, missing isn't as painful as in other tanks.
-Turret rotation speed is very high as well as being more useful than on other tanks.
-Sometimes, the relatively low health pool may be considered as an advantage: just one health box will be required to restore almost all of the tank's hit points.
-The tank's health pool is slightly below average.
-Somehow not very agile.
-Reverse speed is very low.
-Oversized engine and lacking of reactive armor on the sides of the engine compartment may result in frequent engine fires and breakdowns.
-Terrible weakspot on the front, although difficult to hit.
The good rate of fire means this tank can engage multiple targets at the same time, while being protected from almost every angle by the exceptional all round armor. Finally using its high speed to get out of the fight quickly when low on health.
Therefore this tank should be always used as a breakthrough battering ram, always first in the line of fire, using momentum to outflank enemy tanks, hitting their sides and rear with its amazing rate of fire.
Despite being one of toughest opponents on the battlefield, instead of going face to face against an enemy, a Black Eagle's driver should always keep moving, thus taking advantage of its low silhouette and avoiding most enemy shots, and thus keeping momentum needed to outflank enemy tanks. Also, thanks to the amazing rate of fire, one should always keep firing the gun, as missing doesn't matter that much and thus keeping pressure on the enemy.
Hull down engagements should be also taken into consideration, given the extremely low silhouette of the turret, however, in this case one should always wiggle their turret, in order to avoid accurate return fire hitting your major weakspot.
Just mind your relatively low health pool and use your speed to break engagement with the enemy, restore your health and get back to the frontline.
Despite no longer being as powerful as it used ro be, this tank is a force to be reckoned with, particularly when found in wolfpacks.
4.2 -How to deal with one:
The Black Eagle is nowhere near as powerful as it used to be and if you take advantage of its downsides this behemoth will go down very easily.
When dealing with the front of a Black Eagle one should never shoot at the upper front plate or, even worse, at the extremely angled and protected front turret; one, instead, should always aim at the lower front plate or at its tracks in order to deal a fair amount of damage, or at its major weakspot, dealing massive amounts of damage and, in some cases, even killing it in just two or three hits. This weakspot is represented by the Transport-Loading-Container found at the back of the turret, which is slightly elevated above the "proper" turret. Therefore it's possible to hit it from the front; being obviously part of this box-shaped thing behind the optics above the "proper" turret, this led many to believe these devices were actually the weakspot of the tank: however, the optics aren't hit zones and therefore any shot will just pass through them, eventually going into the nothingness or, if the shots are aimed low enough, right through the actual weakspot behind.
When a Black Eagle charges you, let it come quite near you, once it makes its move, take your countermeasures: if it comes against you head on, then the job's done, just aim for the weakspot I explained above; if it tries to outflank you, then, if your tank has a good reverse speed (and most of the tanks the Black Eagle faces have) immediately go backwards, slightly turning against the BE, so that it won't be able to have solid shots on your sides and outflank you, for, as said above, the tank's not extremely agile; thus making the fight much harder for the enemy.
When shooting a Black Eagle from the side, aim at the side of the Transport-Loading-Container or at its rear end, where the engine is located and the reactive armor is absent, to do damage to the engine and possibly setting it on fire.
When spotting one from the rear, if you're driving a tank with a good reloading speed, you may prefer shooting at the engine compartment, as there are more chances you will cause engine breakdowns and, even better, engine fires, aside from keeping your enemy in place; if you are driving a tank with a good alpha damage and an average reloading speed, you may prefer shooting at the back of the turret, dealing more damage than you would by shooting at the engine compartment. Obviously the choice is up to you.
However, when dealing with wolfpacks of Black Eagles, unless having a good support, it's better not to engage and hope the single BEs separate.
The Black Eagle is still a hard nut to crack, although being just a mere shadow of what it used to be: don't panic and take advantage of its downsides.
Here I end my review of the Black Eagle. I apologize in advance if something written is wrong and I hope you enjoyed it. Tell me what you think about it in the comments and any advice you may suggest is welcome.
If you want to help contact me via PM.
Take care on the battlefield, fellows!
Copying/Using any part of this review anywhere else is strictly forbidden, unless my proper authorisation is given.
Jim Warford (1998). “The Resurrection of Russian Armor: Surprises from Siberia", in Armor vol. 108, no. 5, pp 30–33. Fort Knox, KY: US Army Armor Center. ISSN 0004-2420.
6. -Special thanks to:
Sharks06 for providing some informations.
Yoloswagadon for allowing the Reviews Team to perform armor tests on his Black Eagle.
And last but not least all of you that read this review!