Sri Lanka’s defence is handled by its Armed Forces, comprising the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Following the end of the civil conflict in 2009, the country prioritised maintaining national security and stability. This article examines Sri Lanka’s prominent tanks, showcasing the country’s formidable military capabilities of the T-55AM2, Type 80 and Type 88, The BMP-1, The BTR-80 and the WZ-551 tanks.
Sri Lanka’s Prominent Tanks
The T-55AM2, an upgraded version of the T-55AM1, holds a significant position within the Sri Lanka Armoured Corps (SLAC). This tank is equipped with passive BDD appliqué armour for both the turret and hull front, along with side plates that have extensions to safeguard the catwalk fuel tanks. Additionally, it boasts an enhanced V-55U engine, which incorporates an integral supercharger, resulting in a power output of 620 hp. Another notable feature is the inclusion of the R-173P. Belonging to the T-54/T-55 tank series, which is renowned as the most widely utilized tank series worldwide, the T-55AM2 has served in more than 50 countries.
The Chinese second-generation main battle tanks, known as the Type 80 and Type 88 or ZTZ80 and ZTZ88, were designed in the 1980s as replacements for the outdated Type 59 and Type 69 tanks. The development of the Type 80 began in 1978, building upon the progress made during the creation of the Type 69 tank. Notably, the Type 80 was the first Chinese tank to be officially designated as a “Main Battle Tank.” In terms of Sri Lanka’s military, the Sri Lanka Armoured Corps (SLAC) utilizes vehicles like the Type 80/88 main battle tanks to enhance the armour capabilities of the Sri Lanka Army.
The BMP-1, an amphibious tracked infantry fighting vehicle developed by the Soviet Union, has been in active service since 1966. The acronym BMP stands for Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty 1, which translates to “infantry fighting vehicle, 1st serial model”. The Sri Lanka Armoured Corps (SLAC) of the Sri Lanka Army has incorporated the BMP infantry fighting vehicle into its arsenal, showcasing its armoured capabilities. In 1994, the 5th Regiment was established with a primary focus on infantry operations but later transitioned into an armoured role with the acquisition of sixteen Russian BMP-1 IFVs, leading to its reformation as the 5th Reconnaissance Regiment.
The BTR-80, a wheeled amphibious armoured personnel carrier (APC), was originally designed in the Soviet Union. It entered service in 1985, replacing its predecessors, the BTR-60 and BTR-70, within the Soviet Army. Its first deployment took place during the Soviet–Afghan War. The Sri Lanka Armoured Corps (SLAC) of the Sri Lanka Army incorporates the BTR-80 among its armoured vehicles. Additionally, reports indicate that the BTR-80 is utilized by the armies of Indonesia, North Korea, Sri Lanka, and Yemen.
The WZ-551, a wheeled armoured personnel carrier manufactured by the China North Industries Group Corporation (Norinco), was specifically created for the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) of China. This impressive vehicle has also been adopted by many other nations, including the Sri Lanka Armoured Corps (SLAC) of the Sri Lanka Army. The SLAC has incorporated the WZ-551 into its armoured capabilities. In 2009, additional WZ-551 APCs were acquired by the SLAC, and as a result, the 3rd Reconnaissance Regiment underwent a transformation and was formally designated as the 3rd Armoured Regiment, effectively operating as a tank regiment.