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Ukrainian firm to develop next-gen turret for legacy tanks

A Ukrainian company by the name of Arey Engineering Group will develop and produce a next-generation turret for legacy T-64 and T-72 main battle tank (MBT) chassis.

Named “T-Rex”, the turret will seek to emulate the technology feats achieved by the Russian T-14 Armata, most notably the unmanned main turret. As per the Ukrainian news publisher Gazeta, the T-Rex will also offer 360-degree viewing coverage and combat analytics system. The turret will be centered on a 125-mm main gun with a remote-controlled automatic loader and remote-controlled machine guns.

T-Rex MBTs will be manned by three personnel. No time estimates have been provided into when the T-Rex will be prototyped and put into production.

Notes & Comments:

In the backdrop of its tension with Russia, Ukraine has been working to revitalize its defence industry. Its confrontation with Russia contributed to critical delays in the production of Oplot-M MBTs for the Royal Thai Army. However, in 2016 Ukraine succeeded in securing major overseas contracts and partnerships for its initiatives, most notably with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. With a USD $600 million contract for 200 6TD-2 1,200 hp diesel engines and other projects, Pakistan is a major armour client (albeit with the state-owned Malyshev Factory, which is different from Arey Engineering Group).

Arey Engineering Group’s main goal is to offer a relatively low-cost and quick-to-produce upgrade, which contrasts with the Russian Armata, which is a bottom-up program that aims to introduce new technology for land warfare as well as streamline the logistics channel by using a common platform for the MBT, self-propelled artillery howitzer (SPH), and armoured personnel carrier (APC). Whereas Arey is developing a new turret, it does not appear to be developing a new chassis.

The Armata is also equipped with a relatively complex onboard electronics suite, one comprising of an active electronically-scanned array (AESA)-based radar as well as an electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) system, laser-designator, and active protection suite with a hard-kill munitions interception system. While the Ukrainian industry is competent in armour, it is highly unlikely that it will be able to procure analogous subsystems without considerable access to foreign suppliers.

Overall, a true next-generation MBT – especially along the lines of the Armata – will necessitate a major overseas partner to help fund and technically contribute (or at least can source via its own local and overseas supply channels) to the program. If the Ukrainian industry can embark on such a project, it would undoubtedly be a major undertaking.

That said, the T-Rex – if brought to fruition – would be an interesting entry into upgrading legacy MBTs. Paired with the Malyshev Factory’s powerplant line, Ukraine will can offer a fairly modern and affordable pathway for armies in the developing world to recapitalize legacy T-72s.