The concern Bronetekhnika Ukrainy (Ukrainian Armor) plans to set up in Jordan a plant which would produce tanks and other armored vehicles for Middle Eastern countries and service those countries’ armor inventories. The plan grew out of two recent successes of the Ukrainian producer. In February of this year, edging out competitors from other countries, Bronetekhnika Ukrainy sold fifty BTR-94 armored personnel carriers to Jordan, adding a long-term contract to service and supply spare parts for the APCs and to train the technical maintenance crews. In March-April, Bronetekhnika passed the test of converting, within only six weeks, an obsolete British Centurion tank into an up-to-date infantry-fighting vehicle. Showcased at the SOFEX-2000 international arms fair in Amman last month, the IFV should appeal to those Middle Eastern countries that look to overhaul their old Centurions.
The Ukrainian concern is better known for its capacity to produce modern versions of Soviet-type tanks and other armored vehicles. It currently offers production of updated T-72 and T-84 battle tanks featuring more powerful, 1,200 HP engines, improved armor and new fire control systems, and is working with a Swiss company on joint production of a tank gun prototype which meets NATO standards. Prospective customers for these tanks are the former Soviet arms clients worldwide, whose national inventories are on the threshold of obsolescence and who look for cost-effective ways of overhauling those inventories. Last month, the Ukrainians demonstrated their updated T-84 tank at the international fair for armor vehicles in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in head-on competition with the Russian T-90C for Southeast Asian customer countries.
In Central Europe, countries which recently joined or aspire to join NATO are planning to modernize their Soviet-type T-72 and T-84 tanks without Russian assistance. They are consequently interested in the Ukrainian improvements to those tanks. According to Ukrainian arms industry executives, the United States shares that interest as part of NATO plans to upgrade Central European countries’ armor inventories in accordance with NATO standards.
Officially established in July 1999, Bronetekhnika Ukrainy consists of approximately thirty specialized production plants and design bureaus, led by the Malyshev plant and Morozov design bureau, both in Kharkiv, and authorized to deal directly with foreign customers. The Malyshev plant’s delivery of battle tanks to Pakistan in 1998-99, on a supply and service contract worth more than US US$600 million, was the first major Ukrainian breakthrough on the international arms market. That success disproved the skepticism displayed mainly by Russian firms, which supply Pakistan’s rival India as well as some of the markets into which Ukraine is now moving. Ukraine seems determined to capitalize on its competitive advantages in this sector as a way of gathering badly needed hard currency revenue (Eastern Economist Daily (Kyiv), April 27, May 15-17; UNIAN, April 26, May 13, 16; Intelnews, Infobank, May 15).
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