Afghanistan’s Top Armoured Vehicles

Afghanistan’s military history is inextricably linked to a diverse range of armoured vehicles, from the formidable Soviet-era T-54/T-55 and T-62 tanks to the more modern and versatile Humvee and International MaxxPro.

Afghanistan, a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central and South Asia, is known for its rich history, diverse cultures, and breathtaking mountain landscapes. Having faced complex geopolitical challenges and a history marked by conflict, Afghanistan continues to navigate a path towards stability and development. Afghanistan’s military history is inextricably linked to a diverse range of armoured vehicles, from the formidable Soviet-era T-54/T-55 and T-62 tanks to the more modern and versatile Humvee and International MaxxPro. These vehicles have played pivotal roles in shaping the country’s military capabilities and leaving an indelible mark on its war-torn landscape, serving as instrumental tools in various conflicts throughout Afghanistan’s turbulent past.

Afghanistan’s Top 5 Tanks

The T-54/T-55 tanks, which were introduced after World War II, form a series of Soviet main battle tanks that have had a significant impact on Afghanistan’s military history. In 1961, Afghanistan placed an order for 50 T-54s and 50 T-55s from the Soviet Union, which were subsequently delivered between 1962 and 1964. Additionally, in 1978, they procured an additional 150 T-54s, which arrived by 1979. Moreover, in the same year, they acquired 200 T-55s and 255 T-66s, which were delivered between 1978 and 1991. As of April 1, 1992, there were at least 400 T-54s, T-55s, and T-62s in active service. These tanks served as the backbone of the initial Soviet occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1980. Despite the USSR’s ultimate defeat in the war, only one T-55 was lost out of the approximately 800 deployed. In Afghanistan, these tanks were utilized in small units to bolster motorized infantry and airborne assault battalions, as well as to secure vital communication lines in strategic areas, providing long-range and manoeuvrable firepower. This underscores the crucial role played by the T-54/T-55 tanks in Afghanistan’s military operations.

The T-62, a Soviet medium tank that was first introduced in 1961, had a significant impact during the war in Afghanistan. The Taliban, armed with mines, grenades, and recoilless rifles, officially destroyed almost 400 of these tanks. The T-62 was designed and manufactured at Factory No. 183 in Nizhniy Tagil, also known as Uralvagonzavod. It was put into service as a direct response to the new American M60 tank, to outgun it. The T-62’s most notable feature was its 115mm smoothbore gun. In Afghanistan, the T-62 was one of many tanks acquired from the Soviet Union. Although Afghanistan once operated hundreds of T-62s, only around 60 remain operational today. To supplement the dwindling ammunition for the T-62, 13 T-55s were brought in to augment the four dozen T-62s. The war in Afghanistan prompted the Soviets to increase the armour on their tanks to provide better protection against infantry anti-tank weapons like the RPG-7. This underscores the crucial role that T-62 tanks played in Afghanistan’s military operations.

The Humvee, renowned as the workhorse of militaries worldwide for almost three decades, has been a crucial asset in Afghanistan, particularly following the 9/11 attacks. Humvees were deployed by US troops to combat the Taliban and eliminate key members of Al Qaeda. Its design made it exceptionally well-suited for manoeuvring through the rugged mountainous terrain, especially in and around the Tora Bora cave complex. In the broader context of Afghanistan, the Humvee proved to be indispensable during the initial operations. As per a GAO report, approximately 22,000 Humvees were provided to the defeated Afghan security forces. Furthermore, they were also supplied with 42,000 Ford Ranger pick-up trucks and around 1,000 MRAPs, which are large, heavy vehicles used to safeguard troops against roadside bombs. This underscores the significant role that the Humvee has played in the military history of Afghanistan.

The International MaxxPro, an armoured fighting vehicle, was developed by Navistar Defence, a subsidiary of American company Navistar International, in collaboration with Israeli company Plasan Sasa. Its main purpose was to participate in the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle program of the US military. The MaxxPro has been actively deployed in the war in Afghanistan and has proven its effectiveness. Its unique V-shaped hull is specifically designed to redirect the impact of land mines or IEDs away from the vehicle, ensuring the safety of its occupants. Unlike other MRAPs, the MaxxPro’s armoured body is assembled using bolts instead of welding. This vehicle has been utilized in various conflict zones including Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Not only is it utilized by the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Department of Homeland Security, and police units of the United States, but it is also employed by numerous other countries such as Afghanistan, Algeria, Albania, Bangladesh, Croatia, Georgia, Egypt, Hungary, Iraq, Jordan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Slovakia, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates. The widespread adoption of the International MaxxPro by these nations underscores its significant role in Afghanistan’s military history.

The T-72, a main battle tank developed by the Soviet Union, has played a crucial role in Afghanistan’s military history. Initially introduced in 1969, the T-72 was created as a more cost-effective option to the T-64, which was hindered by high expenses and reliance on immature technology. With over 25,000 units produced, the T-72 has been utilized in 40 countries and various conflicts. In Afghanistan, these tanks were remnants of the Soviet Union’s decade-long war in the country. Marcel Podhorodecki, a media officer of the 12th Mechanised Division of the Polish Army, confirmed that the vehicles in the video are T-72 and T-55 tanks, BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles, and trucks made by ZiL, a former Russian heavy equipment manufacturer. The T-72 tanks were extensively used by the Soviets in the war, highlighting their significant contribution to Afghanistan’s military operations. Despite the challenges, Afghanistan’s military has effectively utilized these tanks, demonstrating their adaptability and resilience.