First Appearance: 1986
The TR-125 is a development based on the T-72 done by Romania. The country had received 32 T-72 Ural in 1978/79. The tank was fielded in a very small number and never upgraded.
The T-72 was procured, just after the development of the TR-77 was finished and the TR-85 was started. The later one was build around a new 8VS-A2T2M engine developing 860hp. This engine was seen as superior to the V-46 engine delivered with the T-72.
The T-72 was rated superior to the TR-85 regarding firepower, but not propulsion. Being a very mountainous country, Romania had high mobility as a top requirement for their tanks. With the TR-85 close to serial production and the 8VS-A2T2M engine in an acceptably reliable state, Romania came to the conclusion that it would also be able to upgrade the T-72. Similar to the TR-77/85, a license agreement was not signed. Instead, the tank was supposed to be reengineered and improved.
Development of the tank started in 1984 and was closed down in 1991. Up to 10 prototypes were produced, but there are conflicting information about the actual number.
Without the support from the Soviet Union, Romania started off with the development based on the existing tanks. Lets start with the hull. In order to replace engine and transmission, the hull has to be extended. The tank features seven road wheels. The engine compartment is slightly longer. Just like the Leopard 1, the TR-125 features two large exhaust grills on the hull sides. Reason is that the engine used is an illegal clone of the MB 838 engine used for the Leopard 1. It is called 8VS-A3 and develops 900hp. There has never been support from Germany for this development, but Romania got hands on the MB 838. The engine is used together with a THM-5800 transmission, developed for the TR-85.
Besides suspension and modified hull rear, the TR-125 can also be identified by the heavy side skirts used. They are much more robust than the light rubber ones used with the T-72.
The turret was a bit more difficult. The T-72 tanks procured were all equipped with the old TPD-2-49 range finder sight, which out-dated on day of arrival. Instead of simply using these turrets to start with, Romania procured additional T-72M turrets including the TPD-K1 sight. It is often stated that the turret has been fully developed in Romania. But if this would have been true, there would be no need to follow the exact same design of the T-72. Instead, the turrets procured were slightly modified. Changes can be seen on the commander’s hatch, but also the smoke grenade launchers on the left turret side.
Armament was yet another topic to follow. Instead of using the 100mm rifled gun of the TR-85, the TR-125 should receive a much more powerful 125mm smoothbore gun. While previous tanks used the year when they were put into production for designation, the new tank used the caliber of the main gun. This gives an idication on the importance the main gun and the expected penetration results had. Unfortunately, development failed and did not result in any usable weapon. Together with the main gun, Romania also developed indigenous versions of the automatic loader and the stabilization system.
The development of the TR-125 has to be seen as one of these projects that make no sense and are purely based on political decisions. Romania was not capable of producing a tank back then. It was slightly successful with the TR-85, but even this tank showed a very poor performance later on. Building a complete new tank from scratch requires funding, demand and time. None of it was available. Instead of procuring and upgrading tanks, Romania tried to copy and failed.