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DRC has acquired T-64 tanks from Ukraine

A T-64BV main battle tank.The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has taken delivery of 25 modernised T-64BV-1 main battle tanks from the Ukraine.

This is according to a report published on 31 July by the State Export Control Service of Ukraine.

Ukrainian defence conglomerate Ukrspecexport in February 2014 said it had been awarded an $11.5 million contract to overhaul and supply 50 refurbished T-64BV-1 main battle tanks to a foreign customer but the delivery of T-64BV tanks to the Ukrainian armed forces since the export contract was announced in early 2014 prompted claims that the deal had been cancelled, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly notes.

However, it would appear that half the tanks went to Ukraine due to the conflict there and half to the DRC, which is the first T-64 operator outside the former Soviet Union.

The 41 ton T-64BV-1 features upgrades such as explosive reactive armour. It is armed with a 125 mm smoothbore gun. Due to an autoloader on the main gun, it has a relatively small crew of three: commander, gunner and driver. It was one of the first tanks in the world to feature an autoloader, and one of the first tanks with composite armour. The T-64BV-1 is powered by a 700 hp engine giving a top speed of 60 km/h and a range of 600 km.

The DRC has ordered tanks from Ukraine before, notably 50 T-55s and 100 T-72s over the last decade. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI’s) arms transfer database, since 2000 the DRC has received 18 2S1 122 mm self-propelled guns, 30 BTR-60PB armoured personnel carriers, 8 Mi-24K helicopters, six MT-LB APCs, 12 2S3 152 mm self-propelled guns, 12 BM-21 122 mm multiple rocket launchers, 36 D-30 122 mm towed guns, and 36 M-43 120 mm mortars from the Ukraine.

The Ukraine has been the DRC’s main arms supplier over the last 15 years, with other equipment coming from Azerbaijan (BTR-70 APCs), Bulgaria (D-20 guns), Georgia (Su-25 attack aircraft) and Serbia (M-75 mortars).

The Ukrainian arms export report for 2016 noted that it exported 170 light machineguns to South Sudan in 2016 and 88 heavy machineguns.

In 2015, Ukraine exported four T-72 tanks to Ethiopia, 11 T-72M1s to Nigeria, 12 D-30 howitzers to Nigeria, five Mi-24 helicopters to South Sudan and small arms to Zambia.