This article provides an insight into Azerbaijan’s top 5 battle tanks that have played a crucial role in shaping its defence strategy. Throughout the dynamic landscape of military technology, these formidable armoured forces, including the Soviet-era T-55, T-62, T-80, T-72, and the more recent T-90, have demonstrated Azerbaijan’s power and strategic capabilities.
Azerbaijan’s Top 5 Battle Tanks
The T-90, a third-generation Russian Main Battle Tank, was manufactured by Uralvagonzavod in Nizhny Tagil, Russia. It was introduced into the Russian army in 1992. Equipped with a 125 mm 2A46 smoothbore main gun, the 1A45T fire-control system, an upgraded engine, and gunner’s thermal sight, the T-90 also features a combination of steel and composite armour, smoke grenade dischargers, Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armour (ERA), and the Shtora infrared anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) jamming system for enhanced protection. In terms of Azerbaijan’s procurement of the T-90, they acquired T-90S tanks from Russia. In 2011, the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry and Russia’s Rosoboronexport Company signed a sales agreement for T-90S main battle tanks.
The T-72, a main battle tank designed by the Soviets, entered production in 1969. It was developed as an improvement over the T-64, which faced challenges due to its high costs and reliance on immature technology. With approximately 25,000 units manufactured, many T-72 tanks have undergone refurbishment and continue to serve for several decades. This tank became the most widely used among the Warsaw Pact nations from the 1970s until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Additionally, it was exported to various countries including Finland, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Yugoslavia. Moreover, it was replicated both with and without licenses in other regions. Notably, the Azerbaijani Land Forces have also acquired the T-72 as part of their equipment.
The T-80, a main battle tank (MBT), was originally designed and produced in the former Soviet Union. It was developed from the T-64 and incorporates elements from the T-72, utilizing a gas turbine engine. Notably, upon its introduction in 1976, it became the first production tank to be exclusively powered by a turbine. The T-80 and its various iterations are currently utilized by multiple nations. In the case of Azerbaijan, the T-80 is included in the inventory of equipment employed by the Azerbaijani Land Forces.
The T-55, a Soviet main battle tank, made its debut shortly after the conclusion of the Second World War. It was developed as an improvement over the T-64, which faced challenges due to its high costs and reliance on nascent technology. With approximately 25,000 T-54/T-55 tanks manufactured, many have undergone refurbishment and continued to serve for several decades. This series holds the distinction of being the most-produced tank in history. While the Soviet and Russian armies replaced them with the T-62, T-64, T-72, T-80, and T-90 tanks, the T-55 remains operational in around 50 other armies worldwide, with some receiving advanced retrofitting. In the case of Azerbaijan, their Ground Forces possess 100 T-55 main battle tanks.
The T-62, a Soviet main battle tank, was initially introduced in 1961 as a further development of the T-55 series. It retained many design elements of its predecessor, including low profile and thick turret armour. Unlike previous tanks, the T-62 was armed with a smoothbore tank gun that could fire APFSDS rounds at higher velocities. Although it became the standard tank in the Soviet arsenal, it did not fully replace the T-55 in export markets due to its higher manufacturing costs and maintenance requirements. Despite being succeeded by later models in successor states of the Soviet Union, the T-62 remained in reserve in the former USSR and frontline use by other countries. Azerbaijan’s Land Forces are listed as one of the users of the T-62.