Ukraine’s state-run defence production concern Ukroboronprom will soon deliver the advanced Oplot-T battle tanks to Thailand. After missing several deadlines over the past few years, the contract for supplying Oplot-T tanks to the Kingdom of Thailand has been successfully completed, Ukroboronprom Director General Pavlo Bukin has said.
“The last party of tanks has passed checks by the customers and will be sent to the buyer in the near future,” Bukin said. “The contract was fulfilled, despite Russian aggression. We are thankful to our strategic partners in Thailand for their understanding,” Bukin said, adding that the sale put money into Ukraine’s hard-currency coffers.
The US$240 million contract with Thailand for supplying Oplot 49 tanks was signed in 2011. Work to produce the tanks began in 2012. The first batch was shipped to Thailand in early 2014. However, in the ensuing years, production saw repeated delays due to an economic crisis in Ukraine amid Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the subsequent war in Donbas. By late 2016, Ukroboronprom had managed to produce only 25 vehicles out of 49, according to official figures.
In April 2017, the Thai defense ministry reportedly declined to purchase the remaining tanks in favor of the Chinese VT-4 main battle tanks. However, UkrSpetsExport, a subsidiary of Ukroboronprom, asked Thailand to let it finish the Oplot contract in 2017.
“The contract was being fulfilled despite unfair competition and Russia’s military aggression,” Bukin said. “We are thankful to our strategic partners from Thailand for their mindful understanding of the problems that Ukraine faced and for their faith in Ukraine’s ability to overcome the artificial obstacles in our relations.”
After the sale to Thailand is complete, Ukroboronprom plans to begin producing Oplots for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.An in-depth overhaul of the T-84U tank, the Oplot is fitted with a 125-millimeter smoothbore KBA-3 cannon with a range of 5,000 meters. A 12.7-millimeter KT anti-air- craft machine gun, a 7.62-millimeter coaxial machine gun, and Ukrainian- produced Kombat anti-tank guided missiles are also fitted.
The vehicle’s multi-layer armour is bolstered by anti- RPG flank screens, as well as Duplet reactive armour, the Zaslon active protection system, and the Varta optronic system, which can deflect incoming anti-tank projectiles.