Russia's T-90 Tank Interests Vietnam Because It's 'More Modern' Than Rivals

© Sputnik / Ramil SitdikovThe T-90 tank
The T-90 tank - Sputnik International
Vietnam wants to buy Russia's T-90 battle tank because it is more modern than its Western rivals, People's Army of Vietnam colonel Nyugen Khak Ngyuety told Sputnik.

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Earlier this month the managing director of Russian machine-building company Uralvagonzavod told the Russian newspaper Izvestiya that the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) is negotiating the purchase of up to 100 Russian T-90 tanks.

PAVN colonel of armored troops Nyugen Khak Ngyuety told Sputnik that Hanoi turned to Russia because of its long history using Soviet-produced tanks. During its Resistance War against the US in the 1960s and 70s, Vietnam was armed with Soviet T-54 battle tanks and light amphibious PT-59 tanks, as well as Chinese copies of the T-54.

These tanks were particularly valuable during the 1975 battle for Ho Chi Minh, and their speed, maneuverability and firepower enabled the Vietcong forces to move quickly and ensured the capitulation of the South Vietnamese army, Ngyuety said.

"Medium tanks of Soviet production worked well in the conditions of Vietnam – they were powerful and well-protected. The T-54 had a combat weight of 36 tons and was fitted with a 100-mm turret gun. The main tank of the enemy was the M48. It weighed about 50 tons and had a 90-mm caliber gun. It was easier to manage than the Soviet tanks, but because of its size (mainly its height, a whole meter taller than the T-54) the American tank was more visible on the ground."

© WikipediaTank T-54-1 in Verkhnyaya Pyshma war museum
Tank T-54-1 in Verkhnyaya Pyshma war museum - Sputnik International
Tank T-54-1 in Verkhnyaya Pyshma war museum
"It was also inferior to the Soviet tank in cross-country performance and fuel distance. Another advantage of Soviet tanks was that technically they were much simpler than the US tanks and therefore more reliable. In the case of a breakdown, the crew could repair the vehicle relatively quickly. Repairing an American tank was much more difficult," Ngyuety explained.

Production of the T-54 and T-55 battle tanks began at the end of World War Two. Over 100,000 of the tanks were produced for the Soviet army, its allies and the export market, making it the most-produced tank in military history.

The colonel says that today's Russian tanks, including the T-90 which Vietnam wants to buy, have the same enduring superiority over their US counterparts as the Soviet tanks did. 

"As a tank commander with a lot of combat experience, I can compare contemporary tanks from different countries. In my opinion, Russian fighting vehicles are more modern than Western ones," Ngyuety said.

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The colonel said the purchase of the tanks is a reflection of Vietnamese military doctrine, which values tanks as a key component of strike capability along with its infantry.

"Regarding the purchase of new tanks, that depends on a country's economic resources. There are two ways: the first is to buy a certain number of modern tanks. Judging by the press reports, (Vietnam) intends to buy a relatively small batch of T-90 tanks with two modifications."

"The second way is to modernize the existing tank fleet with a view to improving its tactical and technical characteristics as much as possible."

"Tank equipment continues to play an important role on the battlefield. Obviously, Vietnam should do it both ways: procure modern combat vehicles, and upgrade the ones it already has," Ngyuety concluded.

© RIA NovostiT-90 main battle tank
T-90 main battle tank - Sputnik International
T-90 main battle tank

Russia's T-90 third-generation main battle tank entered into service in 1993. It weighs 46 tons and is fitted with 125 mm 2A46 smoothbore cannon, which was also used in the widely-produced second-generation Soviet T-72 battle tank and the third-generation T-80 Soviet tank. Last month Russia's Defense Ministry announced that the Russian army is to modernize several hundred T-90 battle tanks.

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