A mock-up of the Chiorny Oriol (Black Eagle) prototype main battle tank (also referred as the Objekt 640) was revealed in 1997. An early prototype was shown in 1999, however there have been no official comments regarding it's capabilities.
The Black Eagle is a result of radical upgrade of the T-80U main battle tank. It's 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. This turret has a large bustle with autoloader and ammunition. The Chiorny Oriol has a very low silhouette. Currently it is the lowest main battle tank in the world.
The Black Eagle tank has a high degree of protection against variety of anti-tank weapons. This prototype main battle tank appears to have very thick sloped front armor and explosive reactive armor of new generation. Drivers position was moved towards the rear of the hull for better frontal protection. Turret roof has a multilayered armor to protect against top-attack threats. It also incorporates Drozd-2 or Arena active protection system and Shtora-6 and Shtora-8B visual protection systems. It is claimed that the Black Eagle is fitted with an air search radar, which notifies crew about enemy aircraft and helicopters located up to 16 km away.
An early prototype of the Chiorny Oriol, shown in 1999, was completed with a 125-mm main gun, however it will probably be replaced with 135-mm, 140-mm, or even 152-mm main gun. It will have a range of effective fire in up to 10 km. It will also be capability to fire anti-tank guided missiles threw the main gun in the same manner as ordinary munitions. Secondary armament consists of 7.62-mm coaxial machine gun and remotely controlled 12.7-mm machine gun mount.
The Black Eagle design has abandoned carousel-style autoloader. It's new autoloader is mounted in the turret bustle. New autoloader also incorporates blow-out ammunition compartment. It's rate of fire is 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 that ammunition tended to explode after being hit, killing all crew members and ripping the whole turret off.
The Black Eagle has a crew of three. This prototype MBT has a battle management system, allowing to be constantly aware of battlefield situation and exact vehicle location.
Speculations have been made, that the Black Eagle is powered by a gas turbine engine, developing 1 500 hp. With external fuel tanks this MBT has a range of 1 000 km.
It is unknown whether development of the Russian Black Eagle main battle tank continues. It seems that the whole programme was halted due to the lack of funds. Furthermore company responsible for the Black Eagle's design has been in a state of bankruptcy since the 2002. However this prototype provides insight into the future of Russian tank development. The Black Eagle successfully combines all basic features, such as protection, firepower and mobility.