July 7, 2007:
Little noticed in the last few years,
but we are witnessing the, long delayed,
passing of some pretty elderly armored vehicles from active service. For
example, five years ago, the the Dominican Republic retired their last Swedish
Landsverk L-60 tank. These vehicles was
designed in the 1930's, entered Swedish service in 1938, and some were sold to
the Dominican Republic in 1955. As recently as the 1990s, the last World War II
era armored vehicles were taken out of service in several countries.
There are still thousands of Russian designed T55
tanks in service, and a few of them were built in the late 1950s, but most
still around are more like 20-30 years old. South Africa still has some British
Centurion tanks from the 1950s, as does Israel. In both countries, these
elderly tanks have been much upgraded over the years.
There are a lot of 1960s vintage armored vehicles
still in use, including U.S. built M113 armored personnel carriers, and Russian
BTR-50s. Many of these will continue to serve until it is cheaper to replace
them with new vehicles. With upgrades, it's less expensive to keep the old
stuff going. This works in parts of the world where armored vehicles are used
mainly for paramilitary duty, or potential war against a foe who is similarly
armed. More modern, and expensive, armored vehicles are simply a bad investment
under such conditions.