What tank for Peru ? For over a decade, now, The Peruvian Army has been looking into options to replace its T-55 fleet. The budget allocated is approximately $800 millions with the hope of purchasing 80 to 120 tanks and the same amount (105) of APC’s.
So far, the Peruvians have apparently tested several models : The Chinese Type 90-II MBT-2000, the Polish PT-91 and the Ukrainian Oplot. Other sources cite tests conducted on Serbian M-84.
The Ukrainian T-84 Oplot is based on the T-80UD but is deeply modified with a new Composite armour layout with Kontakt-5 ERA and a completely new turret design with ammo bustle. It also incorporates a laser range finder, Thermal Imaging Sights and satellite navigation. It sports a very powerful 1200BHP engine and a 125mm smoothbore gun.
The Serbian M-84 is no longer produced. But even as a second hand weapon system, it would represent a considerable upgrade compared to the Peruvian T-55. The M-84 is based on the T-72 but incorporates composite armour, improved Fire Control System and a 1000BHP engine. It sports a 125mm smoothbore gun that can fire the AT-11 Sniper anti-tank guided missile. The hull and turret can be arrayed with Kontakt-5 ERA.
The Polish PT-91 Twardy is basically an upgraded T-72 tank. It sports a 125mm smoothbore gun mated with the Polish made Drawa Fire Control System and a blend of Polish and Israeli made optics and sights. Protection is provided by Polish made Erawa ERA. Power is provided by a 1000BHP engine.
The Chinese Type 90-II is based in part on heavily modified T-72 designs. It comes with Composite armour, ERA panels and a 125mm smoothbore gun. It has a powerful Ukrainian engine.
The results of those tests ? Well, the Peruvian army does not want the PT-91 and the T-84 Oplot fell short of expectations. There is no word on the results of the M-84 or if it even happened at all. As for the Type 90-II, Peru cannot acquire any as they come with Ukrainian engines and Ukraine has not cleared them for Chinese exports… So, what’s next ?
Well, Peru is now looking into the Chinese VT-4 (MBT- 3000), and the Russian T-90S ! It seems the Peruvian armed forced liked the MBT-2000 as the VT-4/MBT-3000 is basically a modernised version of the latest. It is manufactured by Norinco, comes equipped with a 125mm smoothbore gun, Composite armour with modular ERA panels, improved sights and Fire control System and a Chinese made 1300BHP engine. It is interesting to note the Chinese built the MBT-3000 solely for export by using tried and tested existing technologies to make its production cost effective.
As for the T-90S, it is manufactured by UralVagonZavod in Russia, comes with a 125mm smoothbore gun that can fire the 9M119 Refleks anti-tank missile (AT-11 Sniper), Reflekt-5 ERA modular armour, a modern Fire Control System and improved sights. The T-90S Comes with the Shtora-1 counter measure suite which includes the two famous “red eyes” active infra-red jammers seen on many pictures.
So, is Peru going to purchase 100 new tanks, then ? Not so fast. What about the 50 T-55 Peru has in active service and the 230 ones it has in reserve ? Keeping and modernising some of them might be a way of stretching its $800 millions budget further, still…
There again, the Peruvian army is faced with several options. Three to be precise: 2 Russians and 1 Ukrainian.
The Ukrainian option is the most expensive one but modifies the T-55 deeply and is therefore the most complete. It transforms the T-55 into a modern MBT by changing everything that is possible to change from the base design. The design comes from the Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau (home of the T-64 and T-80UD) and is called the Tifon 2a. The Typhoon package includes a more powerful engine (1050BHP compared to the 580BHP of the original), a 125mm smoothbore gun (compared to the original 100mm gun) that can fire the Kombat guided anti-tank missile and an armour kit including Deflekt-T Ceramic passive armour and Nozh ERA.
The first Russian option comes from OmskTransMash, home of the T-80U. It is a much simpler option that focuses on the T-55 strengths and improves its capabilities without altering the design too much. It includes a more modern 100mm gun that can fire the 9M117M anti-tank missile (capable of defeating up to 600mm RHA), side skirts copied on the model of the T-80U and Relikt ERA usually found on T-90SM and T-72B3M. The Relikt ERA can increase the T-55 protection with the equivalent of up to 550-650mm RHA against APFSDS and 800-900mm RHA against HEAT projectiles.
The second Russian option comes courtesy of UralVagonZavod, home of the T-72 and T-90… And it is quite radical ! Ural, in effect, offers to fit in a more powerful engine, uprated armour (possibly Kontakt-5 ERA), remove the turret and replace it with the turret of the… BMPT “Terminator”! The old Peruvian T-55 would therefore become Terminator “light” (the original BMPT is based on the drivetrain and chassis of the T-72) but would still sport its dual 30mm autocanon and four Ataka-T AT missile launchers…
The Peruvian army has therefore plenty of choice between new tanks, modernised ones or a blend of both… Which option(s) would you pick ?