The Malyshev Factory in Kharkiv, Ukraine rolled out an Oplot main battle tank (MBT) and conducted a mobility test of it on Friday, June 23 with Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and Secretary of the National Security Defence Council Oleksandr Turchynov in attendance.
Ukrainian news outlets, such as Depo Harkiv, claim – citing Malyshev Factory employees – that this specific Oplot MBT – dubbed “Oplot-P – will be sent to Pakistan.
This comes following recent reports from Ukrainian media of the Oplot MBT drawing Pakistani interest.
In April, Delovaya Stolitsa interviewed Pakistan’s Ambassador to Ukraine Maj. Gen (retired) Athar Abbas, who told Delovaya Stolitsa that Pakistan could be interested in 100 Oplot MBT.
At the end of the May, Podrobnosti reported of the Malyshev Factory completing an Oplot MBT destined for Pakistan, but for testing as part of a tender. Pakistan had tested the Oplot-M in 2015 as well.
Notes & Comments:
The Pakistan Army has 320 T-80UD MBTs, which it ordered from Ukraine in 1996. The al-Khalid and al-Zarrar MBTs are powered by Ukrainian diesel engines as well.
The surge of Pakistani interest in Ukrainian armour solutions stems from recent agreements signed by Kiev and Islamabad in late 2016 and early 2017.
At Pakistan’s biennial defence exhibition IDEAS in Karachi in November, Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) signed a $600 million U.S. memorandum-of-understanding (MoU) with Ukrspecexport for 200 diesel engines for the al-Khalid MBT alongside maintenance and modernization support.
This was followed by another MoU in February 2017 during IDEX 2017 in Abu Dhabi, this time between the Pakistan Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) and Ukroboronprom. The MoDP stated that the MoU outlined cooperation “in building, modifying, rebuilding and upgrading tanks in Pakistan.” The MoDP was quoted (by Geo News) stating that the MoU also involved the co-production of tank engines.
Pakistan began activating these MoUs in March with a contract for 88 tank sights for the Army’s T-80UDs.
The Podrobnosti report states that the new-build Oplot is meant for testing (i.e. not as part of an actual order), meaning, Pakistan has yet to decide on pursuing the Oplot. It is not known if this new-built model incorporates updates or Pakistani-specific changes. For example, Pakistan may be interested in the new 6TD-3 1,500 hp diesel engine, especially for the forthcoming HIT al-Khalid 2 MBT.
In 2015, Pakistan had tested several MBTs, specifically the Oplot-M and Chinese NORINCO VT4, as part of the “Haider” MBT program. The Haider was envisaged as a complementary MBT to the al-Khalid series, which was intended to form the future mainstay of the Pakistan Army’s tank forces. It is not known if the Haider program is still alive or if there is any relation to today’s apparent interest in the Oplot.
The Oplot-M is the latest variant of the T-84, which is an upgrade of the T-80UD MBT. Although it is based on the same chassis as the T-84/T-80D, the Oplot-M boasts a new welded turret armed with a 125mm KBA3 smoothbore gun and carousel automatic shell loader, which can fire numerous types of tank shells and anti-tank guided missiles. Its defensive systems include the Nozh explosive reactive armour, Varta soft-kill active protection suite (APS) and, in time, Zaslon hard-kill APS.
Originally a higher cost system meant for export, the Ukrainian Army will also begin inducting Oplot MBTs.
Additional information on the Oplot-M can be found on Quwa.