Armor: August 12, 2001


Russia is testing two rebuilt T-55s as possible export projects. The Soviet Union built at least 50,000 T-54s and T-55s through 1981, so it has plenty to pick from when it wants to rebuild tanks for the export market. One of the rebuilt units retains the original 100mm gun, but adds computerized fire control, explosive reactive armor, new and improve side screens and skirts, and other minor improvements. The second rebuilt unit is based on a stretched chassis with an extra road wheel; it uses some parts from the suspension of the T-80U. A new 690hp engine replaces the original 580hp V-12. The original turret has been discarded and replaced by a new T-72 turret with a 125mm gun. This turret includes and auto-loader, a 7.62mm coaxial machinegun, and a 12.7mm machinegun on the roof. This version is considerably more expensive than the 100mm gun version, but has a higher hit probability at longer range. The laser-guided cannon-launched Refleks missile is available as an option. Other improvements on this model include 81mm smoke grenade launchers, a fire detection and suppression system, and improved systems for the driver and commander. Russia is offering to provide tanks from its own stocks for export customers, or to provide refits for T-55s in the hands of previous customers.--Stephen V Cole


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