Romania Plans to Acquire 300 New Tanks to Replace Aging TR-85M1 Fleet

Romania has initiated procedures to acquire 54 American Abrams M1A2 Main Battle Tanks. However, the objective is not merely to equip five battalions but rather to purchase a total of 300 tanks, according to a statement made by Major General Teodor Incicaș, head of the Directorate General for Armaments. The goal of this acquisition is to replace the old TR-85M1 tanks currently in service with the Romanian army.
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Romania plans to purchase 300 new Main Battle Tanks MBTs. (Picture source Army Recognition/U.S. DoD)

The TR-85M1 is a modernized variant of the TR-85, a main battle tank utilized by the Romanian Land Forces. The original TR-85 was a Romanian-built version of the Soviet T-55 tank that entered into service in 1986. The TR-85M1, affectionately known as "Bizonul" or "The Bison", came into existence in the early 1990s as a result of extensive modernizations of its predecessor. These modernizations spanned multiple aspects of the tank including enhancements to armor protection, the introduction of a new fire control system, improved night vision capabilities, and an upgrade to the engine.

The armor enhancements included both composite and reactive armor, increasing the tank's resilience against anti-tank weaponry. The fire control system underwent significant improvements, alongside the introduction of a more powerful 100mm A308 cannon. This was a marked improvement over the older gun design originating from the Soviet era. Furthermore, the tank's engine saw an upgrade to 860 horsepower, allowing for enhanced speed and maneuverability on the battlefield.

In May 2022, the Army Recognition editorial team reported that Romania launched a procedure to acquire 54 modernized M1A2 Abrams tanks. The Romanian Ministry of National Defense had requested, at the beginning of April 2022, the Parliament leadership for the prior approval for the purchase of 54 modernized Abrams tanks.

Thus, 54 modernized Abrams tanks in the M1A2 variant and 12 derivatives, currently in use, from the US Army stock, including ammunition and training simulators, will be purchased.

Romania Plans to Acquire 300 New Tanks to Replace Aging TR 85M1 Fleet 925 002
The TR-85M1 is the current MBT in service with the Romanian army. (Picture source Army Recognition)

During the "2023 Korea-Romania Defense Industry Cooperation Conference," a major strategic event organized by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Romania, Major General Teodor Incicaș, head of the Directorate General for Armaments, participated in a panel discussing the equipping of the Romanian Army.

He noted that the aim is to purchase approximately 300 tanks and support vehicle variants, but the acquisition period will be determined by the Land Forces.

"We aim to acquire new tanks, around 300 main battle tanks, but the acquisition period will have to be determined by the beneficiary," stated Major General Teodor Incicaș, head of the Directorate General for Armaments.

We stress that this does not necessarily mean that the other tanks will also be Abrams, as was the choice of the first 54.

"The objective of the Directorate General for Armaments is to equip the Romanian Armed Forces with the most advanced military equipment on the market and to ensure that they can be operated throughout their lifespan," he concluded.

Given that he spoke at an event associated with the South Korean arms industry, it is possible that Romania may choose to acquire K-2 "Black Panther" tanks, similar to Poland's decision.

However, the K-2 "Black Panther" is probably not the only one in the running: the Leopard 2A8 could also be among the possible candidates, especially since the Romanian Prime Minister, Marcel Ciolacu, had discussions with German arms manufacturers during a recent trip to Berlin.

Defense News July 2023