Lê Huy Vịnh, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Defense, led the delegation to inspect the Z153 factory of the Vietnamese People’s Army. Today, this facility is responsible for modernizing the T-54/55 to the T-54/55M3 standard. Currently, about 300 tanks of this type must be subjected to this process, but in the long term it is a question of covering e 850 machines. Work on improving tanks is carried out in cooperation with Israeli Elbit systems.
“The City of Tanks”
Lê Huy Vịnh, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Defence, leading a delegation to inspect the Z153 factory of the People’s Army of Vietnam. Today, the Z153 factory is responsible for upgrading the army’s T-54/55 to T-54M standards. The delivery of the T-54M to the army is underway. pic.twitter.com/SMcD4Gm1wt
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Originally a much deeper modernization was blocked, incl. replacement of the main armament by a 105 mm rifled gun, derived from the famous British L7. However, due to the high unit cost, it was decided to use a more budgetary solution, still using the support of an Israeli company. Despite the significant differences between the Israeli and Vietnamese proposals, the vehicle is often referred to by the same symbol: T-54/55M3. The decision to modernize these already old machines was dictated by the very high cost of purchasing the Russian T-90S / SK, of which Vietnam bought only 64 copies.
The tank’s armor has been significantly improved by installing ERA reactive armor on the front of the tank’s turret and hull. This is the second generation of this locally produced solution, which significantly increases the car’s resistance to HEAT heads quite economically. The vehicle received the Spanish Indra TIFCS-3BU fire control system. The original 100 mm D-10T2S tank gun received a heat shield, a 12.7 mm DShK or NSVT heavy machine gun and a coaxial 7.62 mm PKT machine gun remained unchanged, while a new cooperating laser rangefinder with a thermal imaging camera was added for increased shooting. capacity incl. the night. A computer system has also been installed which makes it possible to supervise, among other things, the speed of the vehicle or the degree of roll of the tank. Hydraulic power steering is installed in the driver’s seat, which greatly facilitates the use of brakes and clutch.
Vietnamese armored forces rely entirely on Soviet/Russian designs and their Chinese clones. The total number of tanks in the line is estimated at over 1,800, but these are mostly very obsolete vehicles, such as the Type 59 or the PT-76. Upgrading the T-54/55 tank cars will definitely increase their combat value. However, it is still a vehicle that does not present much value on the modern battlefield, compared to the T-72B or the ZTZ-96, therefore the vehicles presenting the standard of the 1980s. Nevertheless, taking into account the financial possibilities limited from the army, it is an understandable decision that allowed the machines to be used for a longer period and to increase their capabilities in a budgetary way, incl. the strengths of local industry. It is possible that the Chinese version of the T-54/55, the Type 59, will also undergo a similar modernization. Currently, the purchase of other T-90S / SK is in doubt, taking into account not only the unit cost, but also the probable impossibility of their production due to the sanction imposed on Russia for the invasion of Ukraine.