Vietnam increases pace on local upgrade of T-54B tanks

One of the T-54M3 upgraded tank of the VPA during demonstrations. Photo c/o QPVN.

Vietnam has started upgrading the People’s Vietnam Army (VPA) fleet of Soviet T-54B tanks to modernize and keep the tanks in service for several more years to come.

The upgrade to the T-54M3 configuration was done with assistance from Israel Military Industries (now part of Elbit Systems), with emphasis on improving firepower, mobility, armor and communications.

Vietnam’s Factory Z153 of the General Department of Engineering is undertaking the upgrades using kits from IMI after an initial unit was upgraded in Israel.

Among improvements noted were the installation of a new composite armor and explosive reactive armor were installed along the turret and on the front part of the tank. 

Instead of using a new 105mm M-68 cannon from Israel, Vietnam decided to stick to the original D-10T2S 100mm gun and upgrade it. A thermal sleeve on the 100mm cannon was installed to reduce bending under heat stress and improve gun accuracy. Improvements were also made to increase  ammunition storage. IMI also supplied new types of ammunition with greater range and flexibility.

The fire control system also improved with a new viewfinder, thermal imager and laser rangefinder to allow day and night operations. A new ballistic computer, weapon stabilisation system and meteorological sensor was also installed to improve accuracy.

A new German-sourced diesel engine was also installed to replace the old engine, with more power up to around 1,000 horsepower, plus an improved hydraulic steering, brake and transmission system. 

New Russian RF2050 digital multibank military radios were also installed to replace the old analogue radios.

The upgrade of the T-54 tanks comes in as the VPA receives new T-90 tanks from Russia, which is now its most capable tank in service.

[1] Shephard Media
[2] IndoPacific_SCS_Info

Vietnam increases pace on local upgrade of T-54B tanks Vietnam increases pace on local upgrade of T-54B tanks Reviewed by Asia Pacific Defense Journal on November 16, 2019 Rating: 5

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