Armor: May 14, 2002


Algeria, Nigeria and India have expressed interest in acquisition of Czech Army surplus T-72 tanks, according to the 9 May edition of the daily newspaper Pravo. Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik noted that while the army planned to sell the tanks, he would not specify a specific destination since general elections were scheduled for mid-June and he didn't want the issue to become part of the debates.

Of the Czech Republic's fleet of 550 T-72s, 150 would be retained and 35 of those modernized. The rest would be partially or completely modernized, then exported.
The Czechs claim that their upgraded tank has a five times higher range of fire and significantly improved fire accuracy, but remains substantially cheaper than the acquisition of new tanks.

Ales Truxa, the director of the Novy Jicin-based Military Repair Shop (VOP) 025, informed reporters of this on 11 March 2002 that the first modernized T-72M4 CZ tanks will be handed over to Czech Army units in the fall of 2003. VOP 025 was building five test tanks at the time and had a contract to deliver 30 by 2005 (along with five sets of modernized spare components).

The Czech Republic planned to upgrade 140 T-72M1 tanks to T-72CZ standard, which will include ERA, Officine Galileo TURMS-T computerized fire control system and a new powerpack by NIMDA of Israel with 736 kW Perkins engine and Allison automatic transmission.

Company literature claims that the T-72M4CZ is four times more-capable of hitting a target on the move than the original T-72 and can acquire targets at night to ranges of 2.0 to 2.2 km.

The modernized T-72M4 CZ is a result of co-operation between 20 Czech and four foreign companies. The VOP 25 enterprise's management did not want to divulge the costs of modernizing the tank.

A Czech business delegation that accompanied Foreign Minister Jan Kavan at the beginning of March held talks on the sale of modernized T-72s to Algeria. The Czechs hope that, in the event of an Algerian contract, the army and VOP 25 would be able to lower the costs of rearmament and, at the same time, rid themselves of the cost of maintaining surplus weapons. The Czech Army has 540 T-72 MBTs. 

Two vehicles had been modified in 1997 and underwent evaluation trials under the designations T-72M3 CZ and T-72M4 CZ. At the time, it was expected that 250 T-72M1s would be upgraded (dependent on funding). - Adam Geibel


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