Vietnamese army’s tanks to be upgraded


The People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) is upgrading its fleet of heavy armored vehicles, Russian and Vietnamese defense sources say.


Vietnamese army s tanks to be upgraded
Vietnamese T-90 (Picture source: Youtube)


Hanoi is receiving Russian T-90S main battle tanks (MBTs). "The deliveries of the T-90S/SK MBTs to Vietnam have already started. The contract is to be completed before the end of 2019," a source from Russian defense industry says. According to the annual report of the Uralvagonzavod (UVZ) research-and-manufacturing corporation for 2016, No.704 customer (Vietnam) is to receive 64 T-90S/SK tanks. Therefore, Hanoi takes the delivery of both the baseline and the command (T-90SK) modifications of the T-90S.

At the same time, PAVN updates a number of legacy T-54/55 tanks to the T-54M3 standard. "The Vietnamese military has launched a program to upgrade its fleet of T-54/55 tanks," a source from Vietnamese defense industry says. He adds that "several dozen" tanks will be modified. "The modernization of the whole fleet of T-54/55 MBTs is unlikely due to financial constraints," he says.

According to the source, the T-54M3 tank has been fitted with additional Super Blazer explosive reactive armor that protects the tank's frontal arc and sides. The vehicle has retained the organic D-10T2S 100 mm rifled gun of the baseline T-54/55. The T-54M3 has also received a new sighting system with infrared channel and a meteorological sensor. The tank's armament suite has been reinforced by a 60 mm mortar installed in the left part of the turret. The organic DShKM 12.7 mm heavy anti-aircraft machinegun has been retained also. All the new components of the T-54M3 tank are supplied by Israel's Rafael company.

"PAVN has launched several programs aimed at the modernization of Cold war-era systems. The T-54B tanks, the BM-21 Grad multiple launch rocket systems and the P-18 radars will be upgraded in the first instance," the Vietnamese source said. According to him, the T-54Bs, not T-55 or Chinese-made Type 59 tanks, will be rebuilt into the T-54M3s.

The Vietnamese military has been beefing up the combat potential of its sea and air components in recent years. However, the land service of PAVN, Vietnam People's Ground Forces (VPGF) saw almost no upgrade. In 2015, Hanoi refurbished ASU-85 85 mm self-propelled anti-tank guns (SPATG) and issued them to the 168th Artillery Brigade of VPGF.

The acquisition of T-90S and modernization of the T-54B will shore the combat potential of Vietnamese ground troops. However, the firepower of the T-54M3 lags behind that of most modern tanks.

Vietnam's armor fleet comprises the T-54/55, T-62, Type 59 (a Chinese copy of the T-54), and even WWII-age T-34-85 tanks. Thus, Hanoi urgently needs to bring it to a modern standard.


 

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