The Army Is Requesting Spare Parts for T-72M4 CZ Tanks. New Tanks Will Have to Wait
The army is exploring the availability of spare parts to ensure military repairs of T-72M4 CZ tank propulsion units. These are, for example, a 28 V alternator, voltage regulator, diesel engine control unit, fan hydraulic motor, automatic transmission control unit, fuel injection pump, hydraulic pump, etc. On this occasion, we can see the present situation with tanks in the ACR. The army now has only a few fully functional pieces out of 30 modernized T-72M4 CZ tanks, so the soldiers are training with an older version of the T-72M1 tank, which was designed for backup. The planned technical evaluation of the tanks gives hope to the Přáslav tank unit, because it would bring extensive repairs.
The 73rd Haná Tank Battalion with a garrison in Přáslavice is a military unit of the ACR Ground Forces in the 7th Mechanized Brigade and the only tank unit of the Czech Army. Since the beginning of 2018, it has operated dozens of tanks - 30 modernized T-72M4CZ, three modernized rescue tanks and 20 original T-72M1. This is the official information about the battalion. Unfortunately, the reality of the functionality of modernized tanks is different and fully functional machines currently make up barely one third. In September last year, the Ministry of Defence signed a contract for the modernization of T-72M4CZ tanks. They will pay a total of 1.098 billion crowns with VAT for the technical evaluation of 33 machines. The modernization will be provided by the state enterprise VOP CZ.
By 2025, the Military Repair Company (VOP CZ) will ensure the technical evaluation of 27 T-72M4 CZ battle tanks, three T-72M4 CZ command tanks and three VT-72M4 CZ rescue tanks. The machines will acquire new components of the fire control system as part of the planned rearmament of the 7th Mechanized Brigade, and communication means will also be modernized. It is the fire control system that is being talked about as the biggest problem of modernized tanks, as it is the main reason for the malfunction of most of them. The above-mentioned modernization of tanks should extend their life at least until 2030.
In relation to the technical evaluation by the state enterprise VOP CZ, we asked the press department of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) the following questions:
1) What exactly will be the content of the modernization (or technical evaluation) of 27 battle tanks T-72M4 CZ, three command tanks T-72M4 CZ and three rescue tanks VT-72M4 CZ?
MoD: The content of the technical evaluation of 33 T-72M4CZ tanks will be the evaluation of the internal communication equipment and data connection, fire control system and fire-fighting equipment.
2) The current T-72M4 CZ tanks use the TURMS-T system of the Italian company OFFICINE GALILEO (which was acquired in 1998), which is now part of Leonardo. At present, however, there are no spare parts for this fire control system anymore. Does this mean that a new generation TURMS-D system will be installed in the T-72M4 CZ tanks as part of the technical evaluation?
MoD: The technical evaluation will consist in improving the parameters of observation technology and sensors. The entire fire control system will not be replaced, only the components within the observation unit and sensors, or those that will need to be replaced with respect to the required higher power.
The 73rd Tank Battalion would, of course, deserve new technology, but given the coronavirus crisis that has lasted for over a year now, this vision is rather moving further away. So far, no decision has been made on the selection of new IFVs, which have a higher priority within the modernization of the ACR, so the purchase of new tanks will have to wait. However, let us keep in mind that the current T-72M4 CZ tanks, despite their planned evaluation, are far from being the most modern machines and technically lag behind the tanks of other NATO member states.
We wish the entire 7th Mechanized Brigade a successful completion of the acquisitions that are key to it and that are absolutely necessary for fulfilling its obligations to NATO.