Development started during the 1980s, when the design bureau of the Leningrad Kirov PlantT-80U chassis. Later, when the bureau closed, the documentation was transferred to KBTM in Omsk. (LKZ) developed a new design based upon the stretched
A mock-up of the Black Eagle was first demonstrated at the VTTV arms exposition in Omsk, in September 1997, making a single brief pass, far from the reviewing stands. The tank appeared to be a standard T-80U hull, topped by a very large turret and gun, obscured by camouflage netting and canvas. The turret later turned out to be a crude mock-up.
An early prototype was shown at an arms exposition in Siberia, in June 1999. This tank had an elongated hull with seven pairs of road wheels instead of the T-80's six, and a turret still mostly obscured by camouflage netting.
The tank is based on a lengthened T-80U hull, with an extra pair of road wheels and a brand new turret. It appears to have very thick front armour and new-generation Kaktus explosive reactive armour on the hull and turret. The turret has a very large, box-shaped turret bustle instead of the traditional dome shape of previous Soviet and Russian main battle tanks. According to Russian reports, the Black Eagle design has abandoned the carousel-style autoloader in the fighting compartment for an autoloader mounted in the large western-style turret bustle, which incorporates a blow-out armoured ammunition compartment for crew safety, like the U.S. M1 Abrams tank. The prototype has a 125 mm tank gun, but it has been stated that it may accommodate a larger 152 mm gun (compared to the 120 and 125 mm-calibre guns of main battle tanks in service). There is debate about whether the Black Eagle will incorporate the Drozd or Arena Active Protection System.
Recent information seems to suggest that the Black Eagle program has been halted due to the acceptance of the T-90, built by Uralvagonzavod, into the Russian military. This is also compounded by the fact the company responsible for the Black Eagle's design, Omsk Transmash, has been in a state of bankruptcy since 2002. As of July 2008, the Russian army plans to adopt a new Uralvagonzavod tank after 2010, possibly to be designated T-95.
Col. 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.