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Czech Republic T-72M2

In 1993, the Army of the Czech Republic (ACR) announced its intention to modernize its T-72s under a program dubbed T-72M2. There appear to be at least two efforts taking place, the T-72M2 effort by the ACR's own institutes and an industrial effort led by the RDP Group. Czech industry officials have stated that a decision on the program probably will not be reached until 1996.

The program had three main objectives: improve the tank firepower and night engagement capability, improve the armor protection, and improve the tank's mobility. The ACR program includes an effort to update the fire control system to permit nightitme target identification at 3 kilometers and to extend the daytime engagement range to 2 kilometers. An effort was also underway to improve tank gun performance by adopting a new APFSDS round with performance comparable to current NATO rounds and to increase the performance of the HEAT projectile by 60 to 70 percent.

The new protective system may include the new Dyna-72 reactive armor package, which had already been experimentally fitted to several tanks by VOP 025 (Vojensky opravarensky podnik: Army Overhaul Facility) in Novy Jicin. A T-72M1 with the Dyna-72 ERA was displayed at the IDET-93 arms show in Brno; at the 1994 show, it was displayed on the Slovak T- 72M2 Moderna upgrade. The package added 1.5 metric tons to the weight of the tank. The requirement also called for the use of a laser warning system (SDIO= system detekce a indikace ozareni laserovymi). The added weight of the new systems was expected to bring the combat weight up to 46 tons, leading to a requirement to increase the engine's horsepower and to improve the suspension.

The Czechs had discussed the use of the SAVAN 15T gunner's sight for the program with the French SAGEM company which provided a version of the sight for the French AMX LeClerc tank. The majority of the T-72M2 program was undertaken by Czech Army research institutes.

CZ-2000

The Czech armaments consortium RDP planned its own T-72 upgrade program called CZ-2000. RDP reached tenative agreements on this program with several French firms headed by SOFMA (Societe Francaise de Materiels d'Armemant). Included in the group are GIAT Industries, Thomson-CSF and SAGEM. SOFMA offered a new engine and transmission package, and SAGEM and Thomson-CSF offered fire control, night vision and other electronics upgrades. The cooperative agreements stemmed from a an April 1992 agreement between France and the Czech Republic over efforts to restructure to the Czech army and defense industries. The first prototype of the CZ-2000 was expected to be completed by the summer of 1994.

T-72M4 CZ

The upgraded battle tank T-72M4 CZ is an armored, tracked vehicle with high manuverability and heavy-terrain passability. The original Russian-designed tank T-72 of the 2nd generation has been completely modernised to the level of its 3rd generation variants. Although the tender for the modernization took place in 1995, the Czech Republic did not have any tanks that meet NATO standards. Delays were caused by problems with fitting the state-of-the art fire control system, produced by the Italian company Oficine Galileo, into tanks produced in the 1970s.

In addition to other major improvements of the tank, the 3-man crew is now better protected against enemy fire, the effects of blast, radiation and chemical agents. The upgrading of thirty tanks was made under a contract between MoD and VOP 025, Novy Jicin, Czech Republic, concluded in 2001 in a value reaching 4 bn CZK. Till the end of 2005, there were 28 upgraded tanks delivered to the military, while the whole contract was completed in the first half of 2006.

T-72s to Ukraine

On 25 August 2014, Czech company Excalibur Defense Ltd. began transporting 58 T72 tanks, purchased from the Hungarian Defense Forces, into the Czech Republic, the Hungarian government website said. These 58 tanks could have been drawn from Hungarys reserves of about 120 T-72M tanks. According to a representative of Czech holding Excalibur Group, Excalibur Defense Ltd. is a Hungarian company that used to be linked to Czech company Excalibur Army Ltd., which is a subsidiary of Excalibur Group. Excalibur Army Ltd. has not yet provided any comments on its possible link to the purchase of tanks.

The Czech Defense Ministry is unaware of any T-72 tanks being transported from Hungary into the Czech Republic, Director of the Communication and Promotion Department at the ministry Jan Pejsek told RIA Novosti on 28 August 2014. The Czech Defense Ministry does not have any information about the transportation of T-72 tanks by a Czech company from Hungary into the country, Pejsek said. The Czech Industry and Trade Ministry told RIA Novosti that it had issued no license to any Czech firm authorizing the import of Hungarian tanks.

Under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty), the Czech company faced certain resale limitations and bears responsibility for the handling and use of the tanks. The Czech firm also had to comply with Hungarian law.

Defense Industry Daily reported that Hungary was in possession of more than 30 T-72M1 tanks, with the 58 tanks sold drawn from reserves of about 120 T-72M tanks. Similarly, in 2005 Hungary sold 77 T-72 tanks to Iraq. The website also referred to Polands Rzeczpospolita newspaper, which asserted the tanks may actually be meant for Ukraine, which was in need of hardware. It should be noted, however, that the Czech Republic does not border Ukraine, which makes the delivery process to Ukraine more complicated, if there are any such plans. The Czech Army, according to Defense Industry Daily, had about 30 T-72M4 CZ tanks in front line service and about 90 T-72M1 tanks in reserve.



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