Iraqi army gets ex-Bulgarian Army T-72M2 tanks and BMP-1 IFVs

The Iraqi Ministry of Defense announced on February 14, 2022, that a batch of surplus T-72M2 tanks and BMP-1 APC/IFVs from Bulgaria has arrived in the country. Ex-Bulgarian armored vehicles were reportedly ordered by Iraq in June 2021 under a $245 million contract for Apolo Engineering.
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Bulgarian army T-72M2 Main Battle Tank MBT.  (Picture source: Wikipedia)

The last available figures concerning the Iraqi army indicate that it currently operates at least 391 main battle tanks consisting of some 100 M1A1 Abrams, 73 T-90S, at least 168 T-72M/M1 and about 50 old T-55s. The Iraqi T-72M consists of adding additional armour to the front of the turret and front and sides of the hull. Bulgaria operates T-72M2 tanks, an indigenous tank design based on the Russian T-72M1, with new night vision and thermal devices, improved armour (up to 650 mm) and anti-radiation cladding, rubber side skirts, C4I and IR suppression coating.

The Iraqi APC and IFV fleet consists of some 650 vehicles: about 400 BMP-1s, about 90 BMP-3Ms, about 60 BTR-4 of different variants, and 100 BTR-80As. The Iraqi Army received surplus vehicles from several sources, including the Czech Republic, Greece and Ukraine, on top of Bulgaria. Notice that Bulgaria operates two variants of the BMP-1:
* BMP-1KShM-9S743: Bulgarian version of the MP-31 with minor changes.
* BMP-2+ : BMP-1 upgraded to BMP-2 level. It is equipped with the BM1 manned turret armed with a 30mm 2A42 autocannon, UDAR-M ATGM, 7.62mm PKT machine gun, and three Tucha 902 smoke grenade launchers. The BM1 is a modified version of the Ukrainian KBA-105 Shkval turret. It also has new radios and a GPS satellite navigation system and can be optionally fitted with applique armor, an infrared sight, AGS-17, 30mm automatic grenade launcher and a STANAG-compatible 30mm autocannon. Two Bulgarian enterprises, the Metalika-AB private company and the state-run TEREM-Ivailo repair plant, developed an upgraded variant of the BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV). The IFV, which was designated BMP-2+, was unveiled at the HEMUS 2018 defense show held in Plovdiv, Bulgaria on May 30-June 2.

In late 2020, the International Institute for Strategic Studies estimated that the Army was about 180,000 strong, with three Special Forces brigades, a ranger brigade HQ which supervised one ranger battalion; the 9th Armoured Division (2 armored brigades, 2 mechanized brigades); the 5th, 8th & 10th Divisions with four mechanized infantry brigades each; the 7th Mechanised Division with 2 mechanized infantry brigades and 1 infantry brigade; the 6th Motorised Division with three motorized infantry brigades and an infantry brigade; the 14th Motorised Division with five motorized and infantry brigades; the 1st Infantry Division with two infantry brigades; the 11th Infantry Division with three light infantry brigades; the 15th Infantry Division with five infantry brigades; the 16th Infantry Division with two infantry brigades; the 17th Commando Division with four infantry brigades; the independent 17th Infantry Brigade; and the Prime Minister's Security Force division of three infantry brigades.

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Unloading of an ex-Bulgarian T-72M/M1 MBT (Picture source: Iraqi MoD)