The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine has stopped funding a number of promising projects in the field of armored vehicles, according to the website of the Ukroboronprom concern. In particular, the military, without explanation, refused to transfer funds for the production of the BTR-4 and the modernization of one of the main battle tanks.

The Kharkov Design Bureau of Mechanical Engineering named after A.A. has already suffered from the actions of the military department. Morozova (KHMB) - the company switched to a two-day work week. According to Ukroboronprom, the Ministry of Defense artificially created "all the prerequisites for ending the KKBM state defense order."

Kharkov Engineering Design Bureau is the largest manufacturer of armored vehicles in Ukraine. In the Soviet period, the enterprise produced the revolutionary T-64 and T-80 tanks for their time.

Now, the HCBM materials say that the design bureau specializes in the repair and modernization of T-64, T-72, T-80, obsolete Soviet armored personnel carriers (BTR-50, BTR-60, BTR-70) and other military equipment (BRDM- 2, MT-LB). In addition, the Kharkov enterprise is developing the Oplot and Yatagan tanks. These machines are based on the T-84, which in turn is a modification of the Soviet T-80UD.

  • Repair of the tower of the Ukrainian tank
  • Reuters
  • © Valentyn Ogirenko

“Kharkov Design Bureau was the pearl of the Soviet tank industry. I think that the Ukrainian tank school exceeded the teams that worked in the Urals, in Leningrad and Omsk. However, since the 1990s, KHCR has been in a permanent crisis, irretrievably losing its former leadership, ”military expert Alexei Khlopotov told RT.

Despite a significant increase in the military budget of Ukraine, in recent years the financial indicators of the KKBM have been steadily declining. According to unconfirmed reports, the company's net income in 2016 amounted to 695.15 billion hryvnias, in 2017 - 491.74, and in 2018 - 475.91.

The consequences of "easy business"

After the collapse, Ukraine inherited a rich military legacy. Thousands of units of various armored vehicles remained in the country. In addition, a significant number of tanks and armored vehicles Ukraine received in connection with the withdrawal of Soviet units from Eastern Europe.

During the years of independence, most of the "inheritance" was sold abroad. According to the State Export Control Service of Ukraine, from 1992 to 2012, Kiev delivered 1,412 tanks to foreign partners. More than 80% of the vehicles were taken from the warehouses of the former Soviet army. According to the Stockholm Institute for Peace and Security (SIPRI), during this period, Ukraine mainly exported T-72s.

“It was a very easy business. Ukraine actually did not produce anything and earned good money, selling even what it did not release in the Soviet years. But after 20 years, the country has exhausted this inheritance and sales began to fall. In addition, Kiev with great difficulty assembled new cars. This can be seen by how long and painfully Ukraine fulfilled its obligations to supply tanks to Pakistan and Thailand, ”Khlopotov said.

Today, in the ranking of the portal Global Firepower in terms of the number of tanks, Ukraine takes the 15th place in the world with an indicator of 2 thousand units. Almost all the cars were produced in the Soviet period. According to Khlopotov, in the current composition of the APU are several hundred cars, the rest are in storage.

The situation in the tank forces of Ukraine was negatively affected by the conflict in the Donbass. Due to serious losses and a paradigm shift in the development of the army in the Armed Forces, a shortage of tanks and armored vehicles was formed. Replenishment occurred due to repair of damaged tanks, as well as “reanimation” of the samples stored. According to some sources, in 2014-2019, the KGBM transferred to the Ministry of Defense more than 230 repaired T-64s of various modifications and T-80s.

At the same time, the development and production of more advanced machines stalled - Yatagana (created specifically for deliveries to Turkey) and Oplot (developed for domestic and export needs). Moreover, in Ukraine, Oplot is called one of the best combat vehicles in the world - the materials of the Kharkov enterprise say that these samples are superior to Soviet tanks in terms of weapon quality. Currently, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have 10 such tanks.

Earlier, the ex-president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko explained the absence in the army of a sufficient number of “Strongholds” by the large time costs for their production. According to him, the new tank "is being built for at least 18 months, and the deep modernization cycle of the T-80 is 2.5 months."

Also, the establishment of mass production of Oplot is hindered by Kiev’s dependence on foreign components. This fact is not hidden in the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. In addition, the country's industry is in great need of supplies of European steel alloys and various electronic equipment.

  • Tank T-84U Oplot of the Armed Forces of Ukraine
  • © Grigory Vasilenko / RIA News

The military capabilities of this vehicle are eloquently evidenced by the failure of the tankers of the 14th Volyn Mechanized Brigade at NATO's Strong Europe Tank Challenge held in 2018 in Germany. The Ukrainian team took the last place due to defects that the military discovered too late at the Oplot.

The incident caused a huge resonance in Ukraine. The country's Ministry of Defense has created a special commission to investigate the causes of the defeat of the national team, but nothing is known about the results of its work.

“We had guns in three tanks in the loading angle, because the sensors didn’t work out to the end. Also in two tanks the fire control system failed - there was no stabilization of the gun, after each shot it moved. You do not touch the control panel, but it shakes. How to get 1.5 kilometers with this? ”- Captain Roman Bagaev, commander of the tank company, commented on the previously unsuccessful performance at the competitions.

As Ukrainian journalists found out, Strong Europe Tank Challenge-2018 was a debut for Oplotov. In previous competitions, servicemen performed on T-64 tanks. The main reason for the failure of the national media team was called poor-quality components that were installed on the cars during the repair in early 2018.

“Missing resources”

Interviewed by RT experts believe that the tank industry of Ukraine will not be able to get out of the crisis. On the foreign market, Kiev is not able to compete with Russian, Western and Chinese companies, and the country's domestic needs are not so large as to maintain a high level of demand.

“In principle, today's Ukraine can provide more or less normal technical condition of combat tanks. She also has a reserve for increasing the number of military vehicles. However, KHKBM lacks resources for the development and production of new tanks. It is not only a matter of lost competencies. To deploy the release of the same "Hold", you need a large series. Kiev has no money for such an order, and nobody buys these tanks abroad, ”Khlopotov stated.

  • Assembly shop at the factory in Kharkov
  • Reuters
  • © Dmitry Neymyrok

The expert doubts that the team of the new president of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky will be able to change the current situation. According to Khlopotov, HCBM can improve things only by gaining access to a rich foreign market. However, it is unlikely that the "friends of Ukraine" will share orders with Kiev for tanks and armored vehicles. According to the forecast of the analyst, the Kharkov design school will sooner or later cease to exist.

The editor-in-chief of the magazine Arsenal of the Fatherland, Viktor Murakhovsky, sees the main reason for the degradation of Ukrainian tank construction in the breakdown of cooperation ties with Russia. The modern defense industry of Ukraine is not able to independently develop and produce new types of armored vehicles, the analyst is convinced.

“It will be enough to say that the current main battle tank of the Armed Forces T-64 consisted of approximately 60-70% of components, which were also produced in Russia. Our country supplied guns, engines, ammunition. Ukraine has none of this now. What then can be the resources to lead the industry out of the crisis? The situation from changing the name of the president will not get better, ”Murakhovsky emphasized.