Russia is pulling out of its Far Eastern warehouses old Soviet T-54 and T-55 tanks, some more than 70 years old in some cases. Several images show these tanks leaving the city of Arsenyev in the Primorsky Territory, where the Central Tank Reserve and Storage Base 1295 is located. In the photograph, analysts identified Soviet medium tanks of the T-54/55 family.
According to analysts from the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), the return of the Т-62 tanks to the ranks of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation during the Russo-Ukrainian war was already known since last summer. , but this is the first time that the Т-54/55 tanks have come out of their depots.
Satellite image analysis reveals that between June and November 2022, at least 191 tanks (mainly T-62) were withdrawn. However, the number could be significantly higher, since most combat-ready vehicles are usually parked in hangars and it is impossible to record their departure from satellite images.
The Soviet Т-54 and Т-55 tanks are generally divided into two indexes as two different models, but in fact, they are part of the same line of combat vehicles. These tanks have been receiving several modernizations and some changes in the design, but conceptually they remained the same.
They are distinguished from later Т-62s by the characteristic “gap” between the first and second front wheels. Another characteristic feature is the rupture of the muzzle at the end of the barrel of the D-10Т gun and the radiator-specific convex “cap” on top of the turret.
The Soviet Army adopted the first modifications of the Т-54 tank in the second half of the 1940s, and the Т-55 was adopted in 1958. After the collapse of the USSR, these tanks were transferred to the Russian Armed Forces and were concentrated in the Eastern Military District. The last T-55s were withdrawn from combat service and replaced by more modern T-80BVs only in 2010.
There is a possibility that these tanks will appear on the front line of the Russo-Ukrainian war along with the T-62s after they are decommissioned, but the most likely scenario is that they will be repaired and shipped to Syria. There, they would be used in large numbers by the Syrian army.
At the moment, three armored plants are engaged in the restoration of Russian tanks, but only one of them specializes in repairing Т-55 and Т-62 tanks. This is an armored repair plant 103, so the vehicles will be delivered there.
The key disadvantages of the Т-54 and Т-55 are a critically low level of protection, the lack of rangefinders and ballistic computers, primitive sights, and an inferior weapon stabilization system.
During the repair and replacement of faulty components without special design interference, the old TPN-1-22 night sight can be replaced with a standard Russian 1PN-96MT-02 thermal sight with a built-in laser rangefinder, the wide use of which has already been seen on the restored versions Т-62 and “mobilization” of the Т-72 and Т-80 tanks. The Т-55s for the Syrian Army were also equipped with Kontakt-1 reactive armor.
As for the T-62, is an obsolete car that weighs 41 tons and has a 115-millimeter gun and steel armor. Manufactured in the USSR from 1961 to 1975, it was the most important Soviet tank until the T-72 entered service in 1969. In 2010, the reborn T-62 was withdrawn from the arsenals of the Russian Army due to the boom much more modern models like the T-90.
But the war in Ukraine has upended the Kremlin’s initial prospects. The international sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States are affecting above all the import of high-tech parts for the arms industry to the point that the only tank manufacturer in Russia, Uralvagonzavod -one of the largest producers in the world- with 30,000 employees – halted production in March due to supply problems.
According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies “Military Balance”, Russia had 2,800 tanks and another 13,000 armored vehicles (reconnaissance and infantry fighting vehicles) in active service before the war. In addition, he had another 10,000 tanks and 8,500 armored vehicles in storage, parked in the hangars.