The Czech Republic is stepping up and is set to send T-72B battle tanks to Ukraine. These are Soviet-era main battle tanks that entered production in 1969. It also has a deep history with Ukraine. The original 5TDF engines were replaced by the more modern V-45, which was produced by the Malyshev Factory in Kharkiv.
The T-72B was then produced in 1985 and has a new main gun, stabilizer, sights, and fire control capable of firing 9M1119 Svir-guided missiles. It also has armor, including 20 mm of “applique armour” in the front hull. In addition, it runs on an improved 840-hp engine.
What’s more, these will also receive a ton of upgrades after the US and Netherlands pledged to fund the refurbishment of these tanks. Both countries are sharing the $90 million cost of upgrading these tanks. The US contribution is part of the $400 million allotment to the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) arms package announced last Friday. Pentagon Spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said this marks “the first time we are paying for these tanks to be used in Ukraine.”
The refurbishment will include new optics, up-to-date communications hardware and software, and more armor packages. However, Singh did not disclose how exactly these systems would function.
Singh added that the T-72s were chosen over the M-1 Abrams because they were more functional.
“Introducing a new main battle tank is extremely costly…and it would be a huge undertaking for the Ukrainian forces. So we continue to consult with our allies and partners to assess our ability on what we can provide in terms of Western armor platforms. But these tanks, we believe, will make a difference on the battlefield,” she said.
This donation would reportedly be a pinned timeline to when European countries are stepping in as they see the war escalating in the next couple of months. As for Germany, they finally succumbed to pressure and sent 30 Flakpanzer Gepart anti-aircraft tanks (though not as capable as large battle tanks) in August.
As for the US, John Kirby said the Pentagon is constantly assessing the war, looking to always be one to three steps ahead of Russia.
“Our provision of weapons and capabilities to Ukraine has evolved since the very beginning of the war back in February, because the needs on the battlefield have evolved,” John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, told reporters Friday. Right now there’s a heavy focus appropriately on air defense, and so you will see that in that…package that the Pentagon announced there’s funding to refurbish some HAWK interceptor missiles.”
Though Zelensky has called out for the urgent delivery of requested weapons, Kirby said Ukraine’s need for generators is now being prioritized as their energy structure has been one of the main targets of the Russian military as of late. Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said they have been operating in emergency mode, using the city’s energy supply system since October 28. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US has authorized its 24th drawdown of US arms and equipment for Ukraine.
“This $275 million drawdown includes additional arms, munitions, and equipment from US Department of Defense inventories. This drawdown will bring the total US military assistance for Ukraine to an unprecedented level of more than $18.5 billion since the beginning of the Administration.”
This is why Kirby said they are looking to see how the US can help Ukraine in the short term, especially by improving their capacity to repair the damage done by these attacks. USAID spokesperson told Defense One that generators have already started getting delivered to Ukraine.
“In addition to the 700 generators we have already delivered in September, USAID delivered heating pipes and valves worth $1.3 million to Kyivteploenergo, Kyiv’s main heating system operator, to restore heating services to more than 22,000 people who had lost access to heat and hot water due to the Russian Federation’s destructruction of civilian infrastructure,” the spokesperson said.
Aside from the 90 T-72Bs, here are the other items being sent to Ukraine:
- Funding to refurbish HAWK air defense missiles.
- 1,100 Phoenix Ghost tactical drones
- 40 Armored Riverine Boats.
- Funding to fix 250 M1117 Armored Security Vehicles.
- Tactical secure communications and surveillance systems.
- Funding for training, maintenance, and sustainment.