Ukrainian enterprises have leveraged their experience in upgrading Russian-designed T-72 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) and the local production of the T-64, T-80, T-84, and Oplot MBTs to develop a major upgrade package for the still widely deployed Russian T-55 MBT, specifically targeting the export market.
Designated the Typhoon 2, this latest upgrade has been developed by the Kharkov Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau and the State Enterprise Malyshev Plant, also based in Kharkov.
Development of the Typhoon 2 upgrade is stated to be complete, and older T-55 MBTs could be returned to Ukraine for the work to be carried out.
It is understood that the latest Typhoon 2 is a further development of the T-55AGM MBT developed in Ukraine that was offered on the export market fitted with 125 mm or NATO type 120 mm smoothbore guns.
One potential customer has been identified as Peru, which evaluated five China North Industries Corporation VT1A MBTs; these were subsequently returned to China.
The Typhoon 2 upgrade covers the three key areas of MBT technology: armour, mobility, and firepower.
In its original configuration, the T-55 had a crew of four, consisting of commander, gunner, loader, and driver, but the upgraded Typhoon 2 has a bustle-mounted automatic loader so the loader is no longer required.
The upgraded T-55 retains the hull of all welded steel and the cast steel turret that features a welded roof; however, further protection is provided through the addition of locally developed Nozh (Knife) explosive reactive armour (ERA) that is designed to protect against single-warhead, high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) munitions. The ERA covers the frontal arc of the tank as well as the forward part of the hull sides and suspension.
Ukrainian enterprises have also developed the Duplet ERA, which is claimed to provide protection against munitions fitted with a tandem HEAT warhead, as well as the Zaslon active protection system that is reported to be able to neutralise incoming munitions with a velocity of 70 to in excess of 1,200 m/s.