Armor: October 21, 2001


Thirty Years With The T-72- On 11 October, the Uralvagonzavod production association marked the 30th anniversary of the initial manufacture of the T-72 Main Battle Tank prototypes. An estimated 20,000 T-72s and modifications are currently in service with armies in many countries. In addition to production in the USSR it has been built under license in Czechoslovakia, India, Poland and former Yugoslavia. The Russian army now operates nearly 9,000.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov visited the Nizhniy Tagil enterprise for the occasion and noted that the world market showed strong interest in T-72 upgrades that would make them competitive with more modern tanks, while remaining economical. In June, Aleksandr Nozdrachev, director-general of the Russian Agency for Conventional Weapons, noted that the market for the modernization of Russian armored vehicles was very considerable, saying that about 80 per cent of the roughly 13,000 T-55 and T-72 tanks in the world could be modernized. 

The Russian Chief of the Armored Department at the Defense Ministry, Colonel General Sergei Mayev, made a statement on the eve of Tank Man's Day (9 September 2001) that the Russian armor fleet would concentrate on upgrading it's T-72s and T-80s.

Potential foreign purchasers were being offered relatively cheap replacements for individual assemblies (designed to raise the tanks' combat efficiency, mobility and protection), as well as a systematic approaches to the complete overhaul and updating of combat vehicles.

Furthermore, India has purchased the T-90C (an upgrade of the T-72 family) and Malaysia continues to show interest in that tank. - Adam Geibel


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