In an interview on April 20 with the Ukrainian newspaper Delovaya Stolitsa, Pakistan’s ambassador to Ukraine Athar Abbas revealed that Pakistan could buy more than 100 Oplot-M main battle tanks (MBT) from the Malyshev Factory. As per Abbas, negotiations will start once final tests are complete.
Responding to a question about Pakistan’s willingness to pursue defence ties with Ukraine, Abbas outlined that Pakistan was seeking Ukraine’s cooperation in modernizing the Pakistan Army’s armour.
Abbas noted the U.S. $600 million memorandum-of-understanding (MoU) overhaul and modernization deal signed in November during IDEAS 2016 in Karachi. He also brought up the MoU signed during IDEX 2017 in Abu Dhabi on the co-production of tank engines.
As per Ukrainian News Agency Interfax, the first set of contracts under these MoUs have also been issued – in March, Ukraine received an order to supply 88 tank sights for Pakistan’s T-80UD MBTs.
Notes & Comments:
The Oplot-M was one of the tanks competing for the Pakistan Army’s Haider MBT requirement, which was envisaged to help propel the Army’s armour modernization goals and support the al-Khalid MBT. Athar Abbas’ comments to Delovaya Stolitsa may indicate that the Haider program is still alive, though this has yet to be confirmed by Pakistan Army officials.
Since Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building’s (KMDB) 1,200 hp 6TD-2 engine powers Pakistan’s al-Khalid MBT (and the 1,500 hp 6TD-3 is likely the leading option for the al-Khalid 2), buying the Oplot-M would require less in terms of added maintenance, logistics and training investment compared to another platform.
The Oplot-M is a variant of the T-84, which itself is an upgrade of the T-80UD in use by Pakistan. Weighing 48 tons, the Oplot-M is powered by a KMDB 1,200 hp 6TD-2 diesel engine. It is armed with a 125 mm KBA3 smoothbore gun, which can fire anti-tank guided missiles, armour-piercing discarding sabot fin-stabilized (APDSFS) shells and high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) shells.
One of the Oplot-M’s differentiating features (compared to the T-80UD and T-84) is its new welded turret, which accompanies KMDB’s latest in explosive reactive armour (ERA).
Currently, Thailand is the Oplot-M’s sole export buyer. The Royal Thai Army ordered 49 Oplot-Ms in March 2011, though Ukraine’s strife with Russia resulted in several major delays, causing Bangkok to supplement its Oplot-M order with a purchase of VT-4 MBTs from China. However, the purchase was not cancelled and Thailand is in the process of receiving the Oplot-Ms from Ukraine.