Ukraine sends its Oplot battle tank to US

Ukraine has sent its advanced main battle tank, BM Oplot, to the U.S. as part of a 2018 contract between the two nations.

The shipment of just one vehicle produced at the Malyshev Tank Factory in the eastern city of Kharkiv was completed by UkrSpetsEksport, a foreign arms trade affiliate with Ukraine’s state-run defense production giant UkrOboronProm.

“The tank was manufactured at its modern configuration and is completely ready for operations,” UkrOboronProm said on Oct. 19.

UkrSpetsEksport provided no information on the deal’s value or the vehicle’s specifications.

According to media reports from 2018, the U.S. purchased the Ukrainian tank for technology evaluation and tests.

Defense Express, the Kyiv-based arms market consulting agency, said the vehicle cost the U.S. nearly $7 million, which is significantly more expensive than the Oplot version produced between 2012 and 2018 for Thailand at $4.9 million apiece.

The agency says the Oplot version produced for the U.S. is the top-of-the-kind configuration the type can provide, particularly a new reactive armor and a new сommand and control system.

Nonetheless, according to Defense Express, the tank’s shipment to the customer is more than a year late.

The issue came up particularly due to the acute crisis in relations between the U.S. and France, which unfolded in September as Paris lost a 56 billion euro contract to manufacture diesel submarines for Australia due to the U.S. pledging to provide its South Pacific ally with technologies to produce nuclear-powered submarines.

The diplomatic scandal prompted Thales, a French company producing infrared cameras Catherine-FC for Oplots, to oppose sending their equipment to Ukraine which could be used to produce tanks for the U.S.

Ukraine presents its 51-ton BM Oplot as an advanced, highly-survivable, 21-century main battle tank, the future of its own military’s armored component.

It also anchors high hopes on the tank’s exports in the global market. In 2011, Ukraine signed a $240 million deal to produce as many as 49 Oplots for Thailand, but due to production travails, the contract was completed as late as 2018.

Multiple talks with other potential clients around the world have so far resulted in no new contracts.

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