Mystery Surrounding the T-72 Tank in the USA: A Closer Look at its Purpose Beyond Appearance
Many people remember April history and even a kind of scandal with the Russian a tank T-90A, which was surprised to find the inhabitants of the village of Roanoke, Louisiana.
Then, as it turned out, the combat vehicle, which became a trophy of the Ukrainian troops, was abandoned near the local casino by the drivers of the transport company to replace the broken tractor. However, now another representative of the Soviet school of tank building, the modernized T-72M / M1, which was noticed near the Pilot gas station in Utah, has already caused a rustle.
However, you can exhale, because this instance had nothing to do with the Russian troops – it was produced by the Czechs at the Excalibur enterprise, which is currently actively engaged in the modernization and repair of equipment for Ukraine.
But many questions arose in connection with its appearance in the distant United States. Many even suggested that the Americans specifically demand for themselves samples of weapons designed to help the Armed Forces of Ukraine in order to see how efficiently their money is being spent. In reality, things turned out a little differently.
Again in a crowded place
To be honest, recalling the story of the T-90A tank in Louisiana, I just want to say that the civilian transport companies that the US military actively uses are evil. Evil, of course, for the customers themselves: there is no disguise with a tarpaulin with frames that deform the appearance, security, secrecy of the point of departure and destination, and, in general, the carrier does not care about the cargo itself – there is insurance.
If there weren’t all these “flaws” in the work, then Pentagon representatives would not have to answer tricky questions from the public why the same T-90A was practically in the public domain and with unknown contents (explosives in dynamic protection and ammunition) near the casino. And now, in the case of the T-72, there have already been legitimate complaints about, they say, why even the sending and destination addresses cannot be hidden. But, as they say, this is only to our advantage – at least to see where and why the Americans are dragging equipment.
Well, okay, let’s move on to the tank itself. With him, the situation was generally similar to the one that happened with the “nineties”: again a relatively crowded place, again the lack of escort and the driver, whose duties are not to constantly look after the cargo, and again the tank opened for review. True, in this case, the car was still covered with a tarpaulin, which did not interfere with considering its type and even the transport sheet.
We are talking about a Pilot gas station in the small town of Wendover, Utah, where a tractor with a trailer, on which the tank was located, stopped. There, he was spotted by retired aircraft engineer Dave Troyan, who, according to him, was searching for World War II plane crash sites in the vicinity of the local airfield. And then, as they say, away we go.
The man, although by nature an aviator, also did not disdain tanks, from the word at all, therefore, taking advantage of the fact that the driver of the tractor does not particularly look around, he decided to photograph the find from all angles possible in those conditions. Moreover, it didn’t really look like a Russian tank even in the form of dynamic protection blocks installed on the armor.
At the same time, not only the tank itself in different projections got into the frame, but also the transport sheet, which showed off in full view on the right “wing” of the car. After that, the pictures, as was the case with the T-90A, were immediately uploaded to the Internet, but this time not on Reddit in the War Thunder players’ branch, but on Facebook, which is banned and condemned in every possible way in Russia, in the community of armored vehicle enthusiasts. All this, of course, at the speed of light scattered through the media, including Russian, where they began to speculate about the origin and purpose of the machine.
Like “Czech”, but what kind of “Czech”?
There were actually quite a few questions regarding the modification of the machine and its accessories, as well as assumptions and conjectures about it. At first, there were even versions completely out of touch with reality that the tank was a trophy that the Ukrainians were able to capture from the Russian troops. However, soon they completely lost all relevance due to the appearance of photographs of this tank with a half-open tarpaulin.
There, in the photographs, on the trailer, there was a T-72M \ M1 with a very characteristic look of the Czech dynamic protection DYNA-72, which combines both anti-cumulative properties, increasing the resistance to ammunition of this type by two to three times, and the ability to counteract sub-caliber projectiles (declared penetration reduction up to 30%). It was she, in combination with the general “body kit” of the car, that caused confusion in determining the type of tank.
The fact is that, as you know, the United States, together with the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, decided to transfer to the Ukrainian troops a batch of 90 T-72 tanks, which will be modernized at the Czech company Excalibur before being sent to the front. This is exactly what some publications “sinned”: the United States decided to find out what they were spending their money on and requested a copy of the modernized “seventy-two” for research and testing, which is why the tank ended up there.
But the T-72s prepared for Ukraine from Excalibur are significantly different from the car in the photo. Therefore, formally, the tank did not pull on a test copy for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which they decided to let the Americans drive.
This tank, shrouded in secrecy, turned out to be an export version of the T-72M1 modified by the Czechs, not at all Ukrainian standard and purpose, which was transferred to the United States. Moreover, some sources claim that in the amount of two units, and for symbolic money – about 220 thousand dollars per unit. And, of course, there was no Scarab there, as the media of various kinds managed to ring out.
The photographs from the trailer show the T-72M1 in the “for the poor” format – that is, for those countries that cannot afford anything more expensive, or have an impressive fleet of tanks of this type that are in dire need of repair and some kind of increase in combat performance.
First of all, of course, these are some Arab countries and Africa. At the same time, taking into account the capabilities of the customer, practically no extremely significant changes are made to the tank, except for the DYNA-72 dynamic protection.
The “economy configuration” car has generally standard electronics, infrared (on electron-optical converters) and optical sights, as well as a standard engine, which can be replaced with an 840-horsepower diesel engine if desired. But all equipment, components and assemblies are undergoing major repairs. In general, in this regard, the Czechs are more likely to offer a high-quality service, rather than a worthy revision.
In the media, this modernization of the old T-72M / M1 from Excalibur appeared back in 2015: the machines were planned to be capitalized and finalized for the Iraqi army, which at that time actively fought against the Islamic State banned in Russia. The Czechs couldn’t really push their products anywhere. But perhaps they have high hopes for Ukraine, where every tank counts.
Why were they brought to the USA?
It was not in vain that it was said about the secrecy of addresses at the beginning: even after that mess with the T-90A, in the comments on the materials of the Western media, as well as on foreign forums, you can find quite a lot of messages with claims about this. Like, even if the equipment itself does not represent some kind of secret, then at least glue the transport slips somewhere in a visible place, carry non-civilian cargo.
Nevertheless, the T-72M1 on a trailer in Utah revealed the sender and addressee even faster than the “nineties”: the National Automobile Testing Center (NATC) and the Aberdeen Proving Ground, respectively.
That same automotive test center is, of course, not only about cars in various variations. The company is actually a huge platform for testing various equipment, ranging from really passenger cars to military equipment. It has at its disposal huge polygons with different terrain, test benches, climatic chambers simulating both severe frost and African heat, which can test any vehicle, including a tank.
These guys have been working since 1957 and have all the necessary certification, directly stating that they will help introduce any equipment into production – that, in fact, tests are needed, and the office is holding on in this vector.
Given the fact that it was from there that the modified T-72M1 was taken out on a trailer, it was subjected to executions in full. There, with a high degree of probability, it was run in according to all the rules and at least those points that partially correspond to the state program for adopting equipment into service.
Destination – Aberdeen Proving Ground. It is there that almost all military equipment, whether American or overseas (from the American point of view, of course), undergoes the bulk of testing and research. Familiarization of the military with the vehicles, experienced “rides” on them, design research, shelling and other things – everything is done by Aberdeen units. So the T-72M1 will obviously linger there. In the end, it is the Aberdeen Proving Ground that often acts as a customer for the production of weapons in NATO countries for the needs of the United States and its allies. This is especially true for Ukraine, where the Americans are the main sponsor of the lion’s share of all deliveries. weapons.
In this regard, the question arises, why was the T-72M1 taken to the USA?
The answers of some public figures from the Ukrainian side do not shine with originality, so you can often find such statements that, they say, they wanted to send cars to Ukraine, but it didn’t work out, it didn’t work out, so they took them to the USA for testing. Or the Americans simply decided to get acquainted with the products of the Czech company.
As for the latter, perhaps this is the truth. We will not insist. Although why did the US need a modification of the tank, which is almost eight years old? No one has ever been really interested in it since those years, since it is a rather mediocre version of the refinement of an old tank, which seems to increase combat performance, but does not bring them to a new level. If you would like to get acquainted – you would have driven yourself a long time ago.
But interest arose right now, when a special military operation is underway in Ukraine, and the Czech company Excalibur, which developed this cheap upgrade option, is actually the main supplier of modified T-72 tanks for Ukrainian troops. The vast majority of all tanks of this series that NATO will be able to produce in the short term will go through it.
In addition, the Czechs are repairing the equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine that took part in the battles. Here thoughts involuntarily creep in that once these slightly improved “seventy-twos” may be at the front in the Ukrainian ranks. Moreover, it is the United States that pays for everything.
Yes, it is doubtful that NATO countries will suddenly refuse to produce more or less tolerable modifications with a thermal imager and switch to these “stubs” that were made for Iraq and other countries. But there are a lot of old T-72M / M1 in Ukraine – of course, thanks to Western partners.
At the same time, a large part of the tanks do not have dynamic protection, which is often put on the ground by Ukrainian crews and technicians from existing stocks. In such a situation, Excalibur can offer a very profitable option: both repairs, which are still carried out by the facilities of this enterprise, and equipment with DYNA-72 reactive armor, whose characteristics are higher than those of the old Contact. But, as they say, we’ll see.