Military Review

The state and prospects of the Czech tank fleet

The state and prospects of the Czech tank fleet

Tanks T-72M4 CZ (left) and T-72M1 (right)

The ground forces of the Czech Republic are armed with armored vehicles of various types, incl. main battle tanks. At the same time, the quantitative and qualitative indicators of the tank fleet leave much to be desired. There are only a few dozen MBTs in service with relatively old models that need modernization or replacement.

Three companies

In the past, the tank troops of Czechoslovakia and the independent Czech Republic were among the largest in Eastern Europe, but in the nineties and two thousand years the situation changed dramatically. For reasons of economy, the country's leadership constantly reduced tank and other units, which led to very interesting consequences.

Currently, MBT are in service only in the 7th mechanized brigade of the ground forces. All of them are listed in the 73rd tank battalion based in N of the item. Prasslavitsa. The battalion includes three companies on two types of vehicles. Also in the 7th mechanized brigade there are several battalions of motorized infantry and support units.

In service there are two types of MBT. One of the companies of the 73rd Battalion operates 72 modernized T-4M30 CZ tanks. The other two include older vehicles of the T-72M1 modification. According to open data, there are 89 such tanks.

One of 30 T-72M4 CZ

The status of the T-72M1 tanks is not completely clear. Thus, the battalion's official website and The Military Balance reference book point to the withdrawal of all such vehicles to the reserve, keeping only the M4 CZ in service. However, in the latter the news about the problems of armored units, two companies on the old "M1" were mentioned as active and in need of renewal.

One way or another, the tank fleet of the Czech army is notable for its small size - no less than 30 and no more than 119 armored vehicles. All of them belong to fairly old projects with limited potential and belong to the same battalion. The practical value of such "troops" is questionable.

From license to abbreviations

Currently, the Czech tank fleet is facing a number of serious problems that limit both its current capabilities and further development. One of the main prerequisites for this is the great age of the equipment - it complicates routine operation and carrying out repairs or upgrades.

In 1977, Czechoslovakia received the necessary documentation from the USSR and launched the licensed production of the T-72M MBT. Later they mastered the newer T-72M1 with reinforced frontal projection armor. The release of such equipment continued until 1991, in 14 years they managed to assemble 815 tanks. After the collapse of the country, most of the armored vehicles went to the Czech Republic.

In recent decades, various reductions have been carried out, as a result of which the number of tank units has decreased significantly. First of all, they were withdrawn to the reserve, sold abroad or disposed of machines of older releases and modifications. Thanks to this, from a certain time in the Czech army, only relatively new T-72M1 remained.

In the nineties, the Vojensky opravarensky podnik 025 (now VOP CZ) tank repair plant, together with foreign enterprises, developed a project for the modernization of the T-72M4 CZ. The upgraded tank received a new power plant, Czech-made DYNA-72 reactive armor, the Italian TURMS-T fire control system, several promising shells and a number of other components. Due to this modernization, it was possible to increase the technical, combat and operational characteristics.

During the development of the T-72M4 CZ project, it was supposed to modernize 300-350 T-72M1 tanks from the availability. Construction of equipment from scratch was not planned and was not possible. In the future, plans were seriously reduced. Financial constraints allowed only 30 cars to be upgraded. Corresponding events took place in 2003-2008. Since then, the T-72M4 CZ are the newest, but not the most numerous MBT in the Czech Republic.

Development problems

A few months ago, the results of a full-scale inspection of the army armored vehicles fleet carried out by the military and political leadership of the country were published. The audit found that an extremely difficult situation is observed in the field of MBT, requiring the adoption of certain measures. A plan to remedy the current situation has already been proposed.

According to the audit, there are not only quantitative and qualitative problems. Difficulties are observed in ensuring proper combat readiness. So, in 2016-18. only 43% of the nominal number of tanks in the army was in active service. Thus, only fifty tanks can be involved in training or combat work at a time, incl. obsolete T-72M1.

The Department of Defense intends to continue to operate the T-72M4 CZ, but such plans face serious problems. Due to the specific composition of the equipment, such MBTs turn out to be "unique and rare", which complicates and increases the cost of repairs and upgrades. Moreover, some of the components for them have already been discontinued, and the spare parts reserve is limited. Rebuilding some tanks by disassembling others makes no sense. This method does not solve problems in the long term, and also reduces the already small number of combat-ready vehicles.

The topic of repair and modernization of the remaining tanks has been discussed for several years, but exact plans have not yet been drawn up, and real work has not yet begun. According to optimistic estimates, the events will begin no later than 2021-22. The update of three dozen T-72M4 CZ will continue until 2025-26. How exactly these MBTs will change is unknown. In addition, the cost of the project remains open and remains controversial.

There are proposals to continue the mass operation of the T-72M1 MBT. This technique is older and worse than the newer "M4 CZ", but has operational advantages. The T-72M1 was mass-produced in different countries and it is easier to find spare parts for it - in contrast to the "unique" machines of the next project.

Save or buy

Now the Ministry of Defense and other structures are making plans to modernize the tank fleet for the next 5-10 years. In the short and medium term, it is proposed to keep the existing equipment in service, possibly with a certain reduction in its number. At the same time, 30 newer T-72M4 CZs and dozens of older T-72M1s may remain. They will be in operation until the end of the decade.

No later than 2025, deliveries of new tanks are expected to begin to replace obsolete ones. What kind of equipment the Czech Republic will acquire is unknown. Several years ago, Czech specialists traveled to Spain, where they got acquainted with the Leopard 2A4 MBT. At that time, the Spanish army was looking for buyers for 53 decommissioned tanks. It was reported about the possible appearance of a Czech-Spanish agreement, but it was never signed.

Present and future

Thus, at present, the tank fleet of the Czech army is in poor condition and cannot boast of successes in quantitative, qualitative, combat and operational character. In service formally consists of approx. 120 MBT of two modifications, but no more than half are suitable for real use.

As the service continues, all tanks are faced with problems of repair and modernization, and in the future they will require replacement. All these activities require money, but the financial capabilities of the army are limited, which leads to lengthy disputes - and therefore there is no clear plan for the development of tank forces. How soon it will be drawn up, and whether it will be possible to complete it within a reasonable time frame with acceptable costs, time will tell.
Photos used:
Czech Ministry of Defense /
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  1. Jager
    Jager 25 September 2020 05: 36
    The entire article would fit into one paragraph.
    1. Lynx2000
      Lynx2000 25 September 2020 09: 19
      Quote: Jager
      The entire article would fit into one paragraph.

      I mean, fit the article into a paragraph: with tanks in the Czech Republic - paragraph dot.

      If I am not mistaken, at the time of the capture of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany, the technical equipment of the army in Czechoslovakia, including the quality and quantity of tanks, was not inferior to the Germans. Helped the Czechs and Slovaks?
      1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
        Kote Pan Kokhanka 25 September 2020 09: 58
        Quote: Jager
        The entire article would fit into one paragraph.

        Brevity mother-in-law - fee! lol
      2. boris epstein
        boris epstein 25 September 2020 15: 19
        It helped. The Germans. They received and put into service 424 Czechoslovak LT-35 tanks (German designation-35t) and 623 LT-38 tanks (German designation 38t) without firing a single shot. In the future, their production for the Wehrmacht continued - a total of 1411 vehicles were produced. When they were removed from service as tanks, self-propelled guns Marder38 and Hetzer began to be built on their base. In addition, the Czechs produced Panthers for the Wehrmacht.
  2. Uncle lee
    Uncle lee 25 September 2020 05: 39
    In service formally consists of approx. 120 MBT of two modifications
    Why do they need tanks? They are not going to attack, defend - too!
  3. parusnik
    parusnik 25 September 2020 06: 10
    It is not easy to come to the conclusion that modern warfare is expensive and pointless. But the opposing sides are rattling their weapons in such a way that they ring around the world.
    1. dzvero
      dzvero 25 September 2020 10: 05
      But the opposing sides clap their weapons like this

      Once the money is invested, then the investment should pay off. The use of weapons has approximately four levels:
      - purchase plans - in what we will be! Fear!
      - already into service - look how formidable we are!
      - actually, application ...
      - after the fight - why didn't it work out the way they wanted ... smile
      And the cart rushed on a new one ...
  4. Kot_Kuzya
    Kot_Kuzya 25 September 2020 06: 30
    Why does the Czech Republic even need tanks? And why is the army needed at all? Extra expenses. As history has shown, such trifles as the Czech Republic and Latvia do not need an army, as the big uncles from Berlin, London, Paris, Moscow and Washington decide, so it will be.
    1. WeAreNumerOne
      WeAreNumerOne 25 September 2020 09: 44
      And with whom should they fight? In Europe, conflicts are now being resolved in a different way. It's just that propaganda is blowing all the trumpets about the "danger of the west" but what we see is that all these Western countries (excluding the USA) are cutting their armies. The main villain VBritania generally cuts the army on all fronts. Nobody is going to fight with the Russian Federation. From the word at all. Who needs it to occupy millions of square kilometers of the almost uninhabited and uninhabitable northern wasteland. Indeed, the Russian Federation itself copes perfectly with the production and sale of minerals for a penny.
      1. iouris
        iouris 25 September 2020 11: 05
        Quote: WeAreNumerOne
        And with whom should they fight?

        With Liechtenstein. Liechtenstein is the hyena of Europe.
    2. SARANCHA1976
      SARANCHA1976 3 November 2020 08: 34
      Well, hello .. and how little things will throw each other without an army
  5. madrobot
    madrobot 26 September 2020 07: 18
    I served there. Tank regiment, city of Krnov. 1988th year. Well, to be more precise, 87-89. So-so of them fighters. Our equipment was much more combat-ready.
  6. Zaurbek
    Zaurbek 27 September 2020 09: 31
    The Czechs, in the end, will follow the path:
    1.used Leo 2A5 (A7)
    2. They will simply give up tanks in favor of wheeled vehicles of the Patria type.
  7. AC130 Ganship
    AC130 Ganship Yesterday, 16: 35
    Вопрос-то в другом. Зачем тратить Чехии деньги на вооружение, если зеленве человечки на улицах пока не появились? На нее нападать никто не будет. Страна - член Нато. Так, есть по документам штук 30-40, и на том спасибо. Если нужно будет послать их куда-нибудь типа в Ирак, есть, что послать. У Канады вот тоже 2 полка истребителей в Ввс, из которых по слухам летают процентов 30% самолетов. Большой брат сказал - надо - послали 4 F18 на войну. Не придерешься. Какой смысл тратить деньги?