BANGKOK – The first batch of T-84-derived BM Oplot main battle tanks (MBTs) was handed over to the Royal Thai Army (RTA) by the Kharkiv Malyshev Plant (KMP) on 15 October.
Five Oplots were presented to Thai officials at the plant in eastern Ukraine, according to a statement on the Ukroboronprom (Ukrainian Defence Industries) website.
Thailand agreed to buy 49 Oplot MBTs to replace its ageing M41 light tanks in a deal finalized in September 2011. At the time, IHS Jane’s reported that the deal was believed to be valued at THB7.2 billion (USD230 million), with payment to be sourced through Thailand’s defence budget over the next three years.
Production began in April 2012, Ukroboronprom said in its 15 October statement. It also said the contract was worth “much more than USD200 million” but did not specify a figure.
Thai officials have previously told IHS Jane’s that follow-on orders are expected should additional funding be made available, with a requirement of 100 MBTs to replace the RTA’s US-sourced M41s, which have been in service for several decades.
The Oplot was developed out of the legacy T-84 by Kharkov Morozov Machine Design Bureau and built by the KMP. The Oplot in service with Ukraine features a 125 mm KBA-3 smoothbore gun, although a version has also been tested with a 120 mm NATO calibre smoothbore gun and associated ammunition handling system. The tanks will be based in RTA cavalry divisions in Bangkok, the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima, the northern province of Phitsanulok, and Nakhon Si Thammarat in the south.