The Bangladesh Army planned to purchase a large quantity of refurbished and upgraded main battle tanks from Russia under a Government-to-Government (G2G) with Russia to greatly expand capabilities of its armoured corps.
State owned arms export agency Rosoboronexport offered a number of tanks to the Bangladesh Army including the T-90MS and T-72 variants.
Defseca.com learnt from sources in the Bangladesh Army that a plan was afloat for acquiring the legendary Russian T-72B3 tanks, spare parts, munitions including barrel launched anti-tank guided missiles from Russia.
The acquisition is in addition to the VT-5 light tanks recently purchased from Russia to replace the Type 62 and Type 69 tanks gradually.
The T-72B3 is the most advanced incarnation of the Soviet era T-72 third generation main battle tank. It is rebuilt using old stocks of T-72B tanks that were held in reserve.
Besides the general overhauling the tanks were equipped with more powerful V-92S2 engines, a new steering system in the driver’s compartment and older tracks were replaced with the new universal, twin-pin design.
The upgrade program focuses instead on improving the tank’s firepower, mainly through the implementation of the Kalina fire control system, albeit in a simplified form.
The tank commander retains an upgraded version of the legacy TKN-3MK sight, which is a passive device with a range of only 600 m at night, but is augmented with a monitor that displays thermal imagery from the gunner’s main sight.
The commander also has a new turret control panel. The gunner still has the 1A40-4 FCS with 1K13-49 sight, but these are now part of the auxiliary sighting system to complement the new PNM Sosna-U panoramic multi-spectral sensor, which replaced the TPN-3-49 in its mounting.
The Sosna-U is a multi-channel, panoramic sight stabilised in both vertical and horizontal axes with a built-in laser rangefinder and command guidance module used with 9M119M missiles. The most advantageous aspect of the Sosna-U is the Thales Catherine-FC thermal imager which extends the detection and identification range of a tank-sized target to 10,500 m and 2,200 m respectively, at night/day and in all-weather combat conditions.
The T-72B3 series vehicles also received the new 2A46M5 main gun which has a dispersion value significantly lower than previous generations, and reportedly equivalent to the Rheinmetall Rh120 L/44 cannon. The gun laying and stabilisation drives were also replaced with the new 2E42-4 system and the AZ ammunition auto-loader was appropriately modified to accommodate newer generations of long-rod (up to 730 mm) saboted kinetic energy anti-tank ammunition: the Svinets-1 (using a depleted uranium penetrator) and Svinets-2 (sintered tungsten alloy) rounds, which were fielded in 2002 and reportedly capable of defeating 740–800 mm and 660–740 mm of RHA at 2,000 m respectively.
The 2A46M-5 gun for the T-72B3 has a maximum range of range 9.6 km (normal max), 7.5 km its own sight, the missile 5 km, APFSDS 4 km. Accuracy is of +20%.
Furthermore, the B3 upgrade includes a new explosion and fire suppression system, as well as an advanced VHF radio system designated R-168-25U-2 AKVEDUK.
A further advanced version fielded by the Russian Army in 2016 is designated as the T-72B3 obr.2016.
It can fire a new generation of advanced advanced projectiles. A large amount of Relikt reactive armour (analogue to T-90MS) have also been fitted to ensure a higher level of protection.
New radio communication as well as a new panoramic sight have also been installed. The 2016 variant also increased protection against mines.
A new fire control system with notably upgraded features including improved stabilisation, panoramic and independent commander’s PK PAN sight with integrated thermal viewer similar specifications to the Sosna-U are featured. The automotive performance of the tank was also improved with a more powerful V-92S2 engine rated at 1,130 hp (830 kW) coupled to an automatic transmission system and improved drive train.
The Bangladesh Army is also purchasing WZT-4 armoured bulldozer from Poland in quantities as well as other types of armoured recovery vehicles to ensure operational support for the new main battle tanks.
There are plans afoot to raise a new armoured division in which T-72B3 tanks might be featured prominently to defend Western areas of Bangladesh.
The Bangladesh Army has a strong record of purchasing armoured vehicles from Russia. It is the largest foreign user of the BTR-80 armoured personnel carrier with close to 2,000 examples in service currently in different variants. However this is the first time Bangladesh Army will directly purchase main battle tanks from Russia.
The Bangladesh Army sent some of its officers and tank crews to India for training on T-72 main battle tanks. Normally it sends its personnel to China to receive such training if required when purchasing new tanks because up until now all tanks purchased by the Bangladesh Army were supplied by NORINCO.