As per Interfax, the Malyshev Factory is finalizing a new batch of Oplot-M MBTs for the Thai Army, despite recent media reports claiming that the contract was terminated.
Ukraine’s ongoing political crisis and strife with Russia had delayed the program on numerous occasions, prompting Thailand to order VT-4 MBTs from China to plug operational shortfalls.
However, Oplot-M deliveries to Thailand have been taking place, with a new batch being finalized and due for inspection by the Thai Army in the coming weeks.
Thailand ordered 49 Oplot-M MBTs in March 2011.
The Oplot-M is the newest iteration of the T-80. It is heavier (at 51-tons) and utilizes a new welded turret as well as multi-layered armour. The Oplot-M is also equipped with an updated electronics system as well as passive and active protection suites for defensibility against incoming projectiles. Like its predecessors, it is armed with a 125-mm smoothbore gun and is powered by the 1,200 6TD-2 diesel engine.
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While troubled with setbacks in the past two years, Ukraine’s state-owned armour manufacturer, the Malyshev Factory is looking to stage a resurgence in 2017. This is thanks, in great part, to a USD $600 million deal signed with Pakistan’s Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) for 200 new diesel engines (for al-Khalid 1 main battle tanks or MBT) and other armour-related work.
Despite the production woes, the Malyshev Factory has continued to push the Oplot-M MBT. In November 2016, the Oplot-M was exhibited at the International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) in Karachi, Pakistan. In tandem with the Malyshev-HIT MoU, Pakistani and Ukrainian officials also discussed the idea of additional armour collaboration, including the co-production of MBTs. The 1,500 hp 6TD-3 diesel engine could also be a powerplant contender for the al-Khalid 2 MBT. Should either of these routes materialize, Malyshev Factory could benefit from consistent and long-term commercial activity.
The Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau (KMDB), the design and development branch of the Ukrainian state-owned armour industry, is also reportedly collaborating with the Polish firm Huta Stalowa Wola to develop a 155-mm self-propelled howitzer using the Oplot-M’s chassis. If completed, this would expand KMDB’s product catalogue, providing it with a comprehensive suite of armoured solutions.