Slovenia agrees on the transfer to Ukraine of 28 M-55S tanks in exchange for German military vehicles
According to information published by the Slovenian Press Agency on September 19, 2022, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob on Monday, September 19, agreed on the transfer to Ukraine of 28 M-55S main battle tanks from the Slovenian army military inventory in exchange for German military vehicles.
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Slovenian army M-55S main battle tank. (Picture source Wikimedia)
On April 2022, Slovenia had already approved the delivery of its fleet of M-84 main battle tanks in exchange for German-made Marder tracked armored IFVs and Fuchs 6x6 armored vehicles. Slovenia also provided 35 BVP M-80A tracked armored IFVs (Infantry Fighting Vehicles) to Ukraine.
In mid-1990 Slovenia started a program to upgrade its old T-55 MBTs (Main Battle Tanks) to a new standard locally known as the M-55S. The first M-55 tank was completed in 1997 with final deliveries being made to the Slovenian Army in 1999.
The layout of the M-55S is similar to the Soviet-made T-55 but features new improvements in terms of armor, mobility, and firepower. The 100mm cannon of the original T-55 tank was replaced by a 105 mm L7/M68 series rifled tank gun which can fire a wide range of ammunition types including High Explosive Anti-Tank - Tracer (HEAT-T), Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot - Tracer (APFSDS-T) and High Explosive Squash Head - Tracer (HESH-T).
In terms of protection, the hull and the turret of the M-55S are fitted with Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) mounted to the frontal arc of the turret, glacis plate, and upper hull sides. The upper part of the suspension is protected by a five-part rubber skirt providing protection against High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) warheads before they hit the main armor of the vehicle.
A new computerized fire-control system is installed in the M-55S MBT allowing the engagement of stationary and moving targets with a high first-round hit probability while the tank itself is stationary or moving. The gunner has the Slovenian Fontana SGS-55 two-axis stabilized day/image intensification sight with a laser range-finder which feeds information to the fire-control computer. The tank is also fitted with a Slovenian COMTOS-55 commander's take-over set which enables him to override the gunner and carry out target tracking, ranging, target selection, and fire the main gun/coaxial machine gun.
In terms of mobility, the M-55S is motorized with a new 600 hp Diesel engine and replaces the V-12 water-cooled diesel developing 580 hp of the original T-55. To improve the cross-country mobility of the tank, the suspension is replaced and now each side consists of five rubber-tired road wheels, with a drive sprocket at the rear, an idler at the front, and four return rollers. The new 580 mm wide track has been fitted with replaceable rubber pads and to reduce driver fatigue a hydraulic steering system has been installed.