Translated from Ukrainian via Google
While the whole world was watching the “leopard epic”, which ended with decisions to transfer to Ukraine a brigade of German tanks Leopard 2, a battalion of American M1 Abrams and a company of British Challenger 2, Western partners scraped together half a thousand Soviet tanks of various modifications from the bottom of the barrel, which Ukraine will also not be superfluous.
OBOZREVATEL figured out which countries are ready to supply how many ex-Soviet tanks for the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
First of all, we are talking about T-72 tanks , which at one time the Soviet Union supplied to the countries of the Warsaw Pact (an analogue of NATO for the countries of the “socialist camp”, which ceased to exist with the collapse of the USSR) and some other countries of the world (Finland, India, Iran , Iraq, Syria). In addition, T-72 modifications were produced under license in Yugoslavia ( M-84 ), Poland ( PT-91 ), Czechoslovakia and India, who in turn also exported them. Thus, at the time of the fall of the Iron Curtain, more than 4,000 T-72 tanks of various modifications “settled” outside the former USSR, which makes the second-generation tank the most massive in the world.
Most of the vehicles have been withdrawn from service, are in mothballed storage and need to be restored and modernized, primarily electronics and body armor (although not all). The rest are still on combat duty in many countries, but are planned to be replaced by more modern Western tanks. On the whole, this is quite a solid equipment, no worse than the one that was in service with the Armed Forces of Ukraine at the beginning of the war.
For understanding: the T-72 is a cheaper and easier to manufacture version of the Soviet main battle tank T-64 (unlike the T-72, the T-64 was not exported even to the countries of the “socialist camp” and was generally classified). Serial production of the T-72 began in 1973.
On January 27, a week after the eighth Rammstein, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, in an interview with the Canadian channel CTV News, announced that in addition to the previously promised 14 Leopard 2 tanks, his country was ready to transfer 60 modernized tanks to Ukraine , 30 of which are PT-91 Twardy .
Interestingly, this is not the first delivery of such tanks by Poland. In the summer of 2022, it became known that about 200 Polish T-72 and PT-91 Twardy tanks were already in Ukraine . On July 25, this was officially confirmed by the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak and the speaker of the Arms Agency of the Polish Ministry of Defense Krzysztof Platek.
The exact number was not reported, but Platek hinted that after that Poland had a “deficit of more than 200 T-72 tanks and a certain number of PT-91 tanks”, which she plans to cover through supplies from South Korea (obviously, we are talking about tanks K2 Black Panther). It is known from open sources that a total of 232 PT-91 Twardy tanks were in service in Poland.
By the way, the arrival in Ukraine of the modernized Polish T-72M1 and T-72M1R , equipped with elements of dynamic protection 4S20 of the Kontakt-1 complex, became known back in May 2022, when they appeared as part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Kharkiv region.
In total, since the beginning of the war, Poland has transferred to Ukraine more than 260 T-72 tanks of various modifications. At least, this was stated by Polish President Andrzej Duda during the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 17, 2023.
The PT-91 Twardy is the main Polish battle tank based on a licensed variant of the Soviet T-72M1. The first PT-91 prototypes were made in 1993. The basic version of the tank was mass-produced from 1995 to 2002. The main feature of the PT-91 is the Twardy protection using ERAWA’s own active armor. It has 394 blocks that cover the front of the hull and turret. These blocks are located almost without gaps, close to each other. Tests have shown that ERAWA blocks increase the tank’s security by 30-70%, depending on the type of projectile.
T-72M1R is the latest Polish upgrade of the T-72 in 2019. It features a new thermal imaging sight, night vision devices, a digital communication system and a new engine start system. Thanks to this, the effectiveness of the tank’s fire significantly increases, which becomes similar in this parameter to at least the Ukrainian T-72AMT.
T-72M1 is a slightly older modification of the T-72 with a sight – a TPD-K1 laser rangefinder and a reinforced upper frontal detail.
The Czech Republic began to supply Ukraine with defense weapons even before the start of full-scale Russian aggression. To raise money for the purchase of weapons, a special bank account was even created at the Ukrainian Embassy in Prague.
In the first months of the war, the Czech media reported on the transfer of a batch of 12 T-72 tanks to Ukraine . On July 5, 2022, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valery Zaluzhny announced that the Ukrainian army was using tanks transferred from Poland and the Czech Republic and thanked these countries for their help.
On December 13, 2022, it became known that Ukraine will additionally receive 30 more T-72B tanks , which were bought from all over the world by the Czech company Excalibur Army for restoration and modernization with subsequent resale. Previously, these tanks were contracted by an unnamed African country, but it agreed to cede them to Ukraine.
Obviously, the government of the Czech Republic will pay for this batch, because on January 9, 2023, Prime Minister Petr Fiala officially announced that the Czech Republic would transfer a batch of T-72 tanks to Ukraine . Moreover, he personally signed one of the tanks before being sent to Ukraine. Fiala wished the Ukrainian soldiers success in the struggle for independence and sovereignty.
USA, Netherlands and Czech Republic
On November 4, 2022, the Ministries of Defense of the United States and the Netherlands announced that they would jointly finance the transfer to Ukraine of 90 T-72B tanks overhauled at the Czech company Excalibur Army for a total amount of approximately $ 90 million.
These tanks are taken from the Czech defense industry. As part of the tripartite agreement, the Czech Republic will give away old tanks free of charge, the US will pay for the restoration of 45 units, and the Netherlands will pay for the restoration of the remaining 45.
Part of the tanks in the amount of 26 units was supposed to be at the disposal of Ukraine by the end of December 2022, while the rest of the deliveries will be completed in 2023.
The T-72B is a variant of the T-72 upgraded in 1984 with a guided weapon system and improved armor. The tank received the ability to fire guided missiles from a smoothbore gun and changes in the armor of the turret (blocks of reflective elements were introduced).
All T-72B tanks undergoing modernization at the Excalibur Army are equipped with dynamic armor, a new communication system from Mesit, a new dashboard and night vision.
On January 22, it became known that the African country of Morocco decided to send Ukraine about 20 T-72B tanks that have undergone a complete modernization in the Czech Republic. The corresponding decision was made at the eighth meeting in the Ramstein format on January 20. And before that, in December 2022, it was reported about the decision of Morocco to transfer spare parts for T-72 tanks to Ukraine .
We are talking about some of those 148 T-72B and T-72BK tanks, which were purchased by an African country in 1999-2000 from Belarus, but were not needed for certain reasons. According to information from open sources, as of 2022, about 40 T-72B tanks are in service with the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, plus 60 of these vehicles in storage (the remaining 48, apparently, went for spare parts).
It is known that these tanks were based in the north of the country to counter the Algerian armored divisions and were sent to the Czech company Excalibur Army for repair and modernization before being sent to Ukraine. According to Defense Express , these 20 tanks have already arrived in Ukraine.
On April 21, 2022, the German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel wrote that Slovenia would transfer a large number of its T-72 main battle tanks to Ukraine, and would receive Marder infantry fighting vehicles and Fuchs wheeled armored vehicles from Germany. Slovenia has also asked Germany to compensate for more modern equipment, such as the German Leopard 2 battle tank, the Boxer armored personnel carrier and the Puma infantry fighting vehicle, according to dpa news agency from government circles.
On July 14, the EURACTIV publication, citing Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob, announced the shipment of the first batch of T-72 tanks to Ukraine , without specifying their number. But it is known that Slovenia is armed with 14 M-84 tanks (a licensed version of the T-72 manufactured in Yugoslavia) and keeps another 32 M-84 tanks in storage.
At the same time, it is known for sure that in October 2022, Slovenia handed over 28 M-55S tanks to Ukraine , having received 40 trucks from Germany in return under the Circular Exchange program (the Ringtausch, or Circular Exchange program, was developed by the German government to support Ukrainian defense capabilities in cooperation with neighboring European countries and NATO partner countries; under this program, partner countries transfer Soviet-era heavy equipment to Ukraine in exchange for Western-made weapons).
The M-55S is a Slovenian upgrade to NATO standards of the Soviet T-55 tank, developed at the end of World War II. During the modernization, a new 105-mm cannon and machine gun were installed on the tank. Also, the combat vehicle is equipped with an improved fire control system and a sight with a laser rangefinder, a fire prevention system, protection against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons. In total, 30 of these tanks were modernized, which were stored in the reserve of the Slovenian army.
In June 2022, the media reported that the private Bulgarian company Apolo Engineering secretly transferred an unknown number of T-72M1 tanks of the 1993 modernization to Ukraine. This became known when a captured Ukrainian tank with the corresponding markings fell into the hands of the Russian military, a photo of which was immediately leaked to the Internet.
True, Bulgarian Defense Minister Dimitar Stoyanov categorically denied the transfer of weapons and military equipment by his country to Ukraine, be it tanks, aircraft or air defense systems.
“Over the past year, the Ministry of Defense has not sold T-72 tanks to anyone. They are the property of the Bulgarian army and are in our formations,” Stoyanov said.
On January 21, the Belgian military publication Army Recognition reported that Cyprus was ready to send Soviet T-80U tanks to Ukraine in exchange for German Leopard 2s.
According to the publication, the Cypriot authorities sent a request to the German government about their readiness to give Ukraine the T-80U in exchange for the Leopard 2 from the Greek arsenal as part of the “Circular Exchange”. There is currently no response from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
The number of tanks is not reported, but it is known that Cyprus has about 82 T-80U tanks in service.
The T-80U is the main battle tank of the T-80 family, adopted by the Soviet Army in 1985. It has a guided weapons system, a laser rangefinder sight, an electronic ballistic computer, a stabilizer, a combined night sight, a smoke grenade launcher, and a new for its time combined armor with built-in dynamic protection. Also, its feature is a gas turbine engine (as on the American “Abrams”).
On January 26, 2023, Slovak Defense Minister Yaroslav Nagy stated at a briefing that his country could provide Soviet-made T-72 tanks to Ukraine. He noted that the republic now has 30 such tanks in service and Slovakia is ready to transfer them all to the Armed Forces of Ukraine if the Western allies replace them with German Leopard 2 tanks. There is no specifics on this issue yet.
Thus, according to a rough estimate based on only confirmed information, Ukraine has already received or will receive in the near future from Western partners 428 T-72 and T-55 tanks, including the most modern modifications (this does not include officially unrecognized Bulgaria). And if the deal with Slovakia and Cyprus works out, then about 100 more tanks will be added to this number .
Of course, all these tanks are not even close to the Leopards, Abrams and Challengers, but they are quite competitive against similar Russian tanks, and in some ways even surpass them. However, most of these transferred tanks are already in full swing at the front.
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The best case scenario would be to get all promised tanks into Ukraine within one month. But, this depends too much on other individuals’ courage … or rather the lack thereof. We’ll see a few tanks arriving here, and a few tanks arriving there, piecemeal, as with everything else. At least the majority of these tanks will outclass the mafia ones, especially the Western tanks.
Ground Launched Small Diameter Bombs (GLSDB) with 2X HIMARS range [94 miles (150 km)] expected to be announce this week in new $2B package.
Those along with the Bradleys, M109A6 Paladins, new Caesars and the tanks coming in should give the Russians hell. The Bradleys are better against infantry which the Abrams are vulnerable too (see how the Saudi operated Abrams do). There’s much ground to cover before getting to where the Russians are most dug in, so let’s hope the TOWs and other supplies will be in sufficient quantities.
But yeah, the sooner the better on everything (read F-16s).