One ‘Czech’ T-72EA tank is produced for Ukraine every four days

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The West has supplied Ukraine with hundreds of armored vehicles to curb Russian troop advancement. This flood of military aid is viewed as Ukraine’s main source of support. According to Forbes, as of early November, a total of 105 T-72EA tanks have been delivered to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. This figure includes the 15 vehicles that Denmark has recently pledged to supply. 

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The “EA” identification tag implies that these main battle tanks are products of the Czech-based Excalibur Army. Tasked with repurposing Soviet-era T-72 models into more advanced technology, this company extensively modernizes these vehicles. 

Excalibur Army uses these facilities to meticulously refurbish old T-72 tanks sourced globally, replacing select components as necessary. 

Updates to the tanks include the installation of advanced optical devices such as modernized night vision systems and laser rangefinders, thermal imaging cameras, digital dashboards for drivers, and radio communications. 

Other improvements include upgrading the air-cooled B-84 engine, boosting its power from 780 to 840 hp. The 12.7mm machine gun formerly placed on the conning tower is also removed due to the dynamic protection covering this area. Remote control features have been added to the front and side of the vehicle’s frame. 

The production efficiency of these revamped T-72EA units is noteworthy – a testament to this is the manufacturing of one unit every four days, as mentioned in the publication. 

Photo credit: Twitter

Remarkably, Ukrainian crews typically require just a week to acclimate to these modernized tanks, after which they’re swiftly dispatched to the frontline.

New T-72EA simulator

The Ukrainian Energy 2000 R&D firm, known for producing military training equipment, has developed new software for their T-72EA main battle tank simulator. This is an upgraded version of the T-72M1, modernized by the Excalibur Army based in the Czech Republic. 

T-72M1R, Twitter

Mykola Salamakha, a project manager at Energy 2000 and a well-known tank expert in Ukraine, spoke to ArmyInform, explaining that this software update is designed to address numerous challenges that arise as one adapts to the dynamics of modern warfare. 

The idea behind the software’s creation is to adequately prepare tank operators for combats in urban settings, Salamakha revealed. 

Unlike the open fields, where tanks can engage enemies at direct hit range, battling in a dense cityscape presents drastically different circumstances. “Given that the elevation angle of the 2A46 tank gun is +14.5° and urban targets are typically 100 or even 500 meters away, we gave clear instructions to our programming team,” clarifies Salamakha. 

Photo credit: Reddit

An ArmyInform journalist described their hands-on experience with the simulator, specifically targeting enemy troops concealed within desolate residential buildings. An enemy ATGM squad was the focus during one such scenario. 

Apart from enhancing the environmental setting options, the developers have also emphasized the importance of teaching crew members the correct way to navigate through minefields laid by adversaries. 

Unlike the older version where passage borders were illuminated with markers, the new software simulates reality much more closely, offering no such aids. Tank drivers must rely solely on the tracks left by an anti-mine roller or an explosive demining charge, and steer with precision. Any side-to-side deviation from the vehicle’s course in front of you counts as an error because it could trigger a mine. 

Moreover, the developers introduced a mechanism to practice overcoming the ‘dragon’s teeth’ barriers. They implemented 3D models of concrete obstacles that can be shattered with a single tank shot, training the tank operators to eliminate blockades by shooting them from a 200-meter distance, using HE-FRAG rounds. 

These simulators have already received applause from Ukrainian soldiers. Tank operator Oleh shared, “Having battled in Bakhmut, I understand the intensity of city combats. But from my experience, I have to say it’s a real disappointment that we didn’t have this training system back then. It might have reduced our casualties significantly.”

The T-72EA is still a T-72

Undeniably, the T-72, even in its modified EA version, comes with innate flaws. The primary issue is that the ammunition is stored beneath the turret, which can prove disastrous. An armor-piercing projectile strike could trigger a deadly secondary explosion, liberating the turret and leading to a complete crew loss. 

Photo credit: Twitter

Given these inherent limitations, the T-72EA upholds one of the finest versions of its lineage. This variant contends closely with the Russian T-72B3 and the Polish PT-91, which arguably have superior optics and fire control systems. However, this is perhaps why the Ukrainian forces have only suffered minimal T-72EA losses since the 90s. 

For Ukraine, acquiring T-72 variants from the Czech Republic and Poland provides a compensating cover to counteract the losses from the modest batch of 71 Leopard 2s received from NATO allies. The Lieutenant’s prediction is that 14 more are due to arrive next year, as 11 have already been lost. 

On top of this, Ukraine’s modern Western-style tank arsenal is further topped up with the remaining 12 British Challenger 2s and 31 American M-1 Abrams. Even with a projected addition of the 200 frailly safeguarded Leopard 1s, Ukraine’s total fleet of Western tanks will only reach around 350. This figure is ironically equivalent to the yearly tank loss rate of Kyiv’s military. 

While there does appear to be a possibility of the US offering more M-1s, the landscape seems barren in terms of Germany or any other country showing a willingness to part with their Leopards. Supposing the conflict stretches into 2025, Kyiv might need to explore alternative purchase channels for tanks. This alternative avenue might just lead to the Czech Republic, as per military experts’ proposition.


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