Turkmenistan, located in the heart of Central Asia, possesses a formidable military power that demands respect. The nation’s ground forces, in particular, possess an impressive collection of main battle tanks, showcasing their defensive prowess. This article delves into the top three battle tanks of Turkmenistan: The T-72, The T-72UMG, and The T-90S. Each of these tanks, with their distinctive attributes and formidable firepower, plays a vital role in ensuring the nation’s sovereignty remains protected.
The T-90S is a modern Russian main battle tank that was developed to replace the T-72. It was introduced into service with the Russian army in 1992 and is known for its high mobility and heavy armament, making it suitable for a variety of environments and terrains. The tank is powered by a V-92S2F diesel engine that can produce up to 1,000 horsepower, allowing it to reach a top speed of approximately 60 kilometres per hour and travel up to 650 kilometres on a single fuel tank.
The T-90S is equipped with a 125mm 2A46M smoothbore gun, as well as the 1A45T fire-control system, an upgraded engine, and a gunner’s thermal sight. It also features a blend 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 added protection.
In 2010, Turkmenistan ordered 10 T-90S tanks for around $30 million and later placed an additional order for 30 more. The tank is designed for export customers, with potential buyers including Algeria, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam. According to Rosoboronexport, the Russian state arms export agency, the T-90S is an advanced version of the T-series of Russian tanks, offering increased firepower, mobility, and protection, and is specifically designed for the export market.
The T-72UMG, an upgraded version of the T-72 tank, was developed by Ukraine. This upgrade greatly enhances the capabilities of the T-72 by incorporating new armour, sighting devices, smoke grenade launchers, a remote-controlled 12.7mm NSV heavy machine gun (HMG), and a new V-84 engine. However, the most notable feature of the T-72UMG is the addition of Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armour (ERA) on its turret.
During the 2000s, Turkmenistan enlisted the services of Ukraine to modernize a number of its T-72 tanks to the UMG standard. This proved to be one of Ukraine’s successful tank upgrade contracts during that period. Turkmenistan sought to enhance the capabilities of its tank forces by extensively modernizing several T-72s. Currently, the Turkmen Ground Forces operate a diverse fleet of T-72 variants, including the T-72UMG. It is worth mentioning that Turkmenistan is the sole nation to have acquired the UMG upgrade package.
The T-72, a series of Soviet main battle tanks, commenced production in 1969. Its primary objective was to eliminate tanks, armoured targets, and enemy troops. Propelled by a V-84 liquid-cooled four-stroke multi-fuel diesel engine, the T-72 generates 618kW (840hp), resulting in a power-to-weight ratio of 13.8kW/t. Equipped with a planetary transmission featuring a hydraulic servo-control system, the tank possesses RMSH track running gear and torsion bar suspension with hydraulic shock absorbers. It achieves a maximum speed of 60 km/h on roads and 35 km/h on dry earth surfaces.
During the 2000s, Turkmenistan enlisted Ukraine to modernize a portion of its T-72 tanks. Over time, Turkmenistan has procured military equipment from various nations, including Russia, Western countries, China, Türkiye, and Israel. The specific details regarding Turkmenistan’s acquisition of the T-72 tanks are not explicitly mentioned in the available sources. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that the effectiveness of a military force relies not only on its equipment but also on factors such as personnel training, experience, strategic planning, and more. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, it is advisable to consult official military resources or defence publications.