Libyan Military Tanks

Libya’s armoured tanks

Libya has a vast array of vehicles which would be considered outdated in most modern armies today however still possess the power to do much damage against countries on the same technological level.

According to a source from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) they estimated that Libya in 2009 had 1,914 tanks. In the report it included soviet-era and later Russian vehicles mostly of export quality. A news report from Novisti¹, stated that Libya had purchased “from the Soviet Union more than 2,000 tanks, 2,000 armored infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers, about 450 self-propelled artillery pieces…”.

T-72M1

181 T-72 main battle tanks (MBT) with 151 in-store. In August 2009, Libya and Russia signed a deal said to be worth $4 billion. However any updates have not been known since the contract was signed. The deal was said to be for upgrades to 145 of the T-72 tanks as well as other Soviet-era tanks such as the T-62, T-55 and T-54 main battle tanks. The Libyan Army operates the T-72M1 variant which includes additional armour of which 16 mm of extra armour is located on the glacis plate of tank. The tank is armed with a 125 mm 2A46M smoothbore gun, with a 7.62 mm PKT coaxial machine gun and has a 12.7 NSVT anti-aircraft machine gun mounted on the turret.

T-62

The Libyan Army also operates the Soviet T-62. It was first seen in combat operations by Libya in 1982 when Libya invaded Chad. In 1978 at its peak, around 900 T-62 main battle tanks (MBT) were in-service. Today only 100 remain in service with 70 in storage. The tanks weighs in at around 40 tonnes and is armed with a 115 mm U-5TS (2A20) smoothbore gun. The vehicle is further armed with a secondary 7.62 mm PKT coaxial machine gun and a 12.7 mm DShK 1938/46 anti-aircraft gun mounted on the turret. In media published around the world, these vehicles have been bombed by western bomber-jets which have destroyed these tanks in recent events in Libya. (2011) They were used in the siege against Benghazi.

T-54/55

The T-55 tank has been around since the 1950’s. It is an old tank which still serves in the Libyan Army. Its predecessors was the T-34 which served the bulk of the push back of WW2 by the Soviet Union into Nazi Germany. This tank was said to have been used by Libyan forces in combat operations in 1978-9 to aid Uganda dictator Idi Amin. The tank weighs around 36 tonnes and is armed with a D-10T 100 mm rifled gun. The vehicle has secondary weapons such as 2 x 7.62 mm SGMT machine guns and one 12.7 mm DShK anti-aircraft heavy machine gun. There are around 560 tanks in service with around 1,000 in storage as of 2009 according to estimates by the IISS.
During the 2011 uprising in Libya there have been uses of the T-55 by both sides of pro-Gaddafi forces and rebel-led forces who captured a number of Libyan Army heavy weaponry.

These are the main battle tanks (MBT) which consist of Libyan Army and are the back bone into providing fire support and anti-tank capabilities. During the conflict in Libya in 2011, videos emerged² of these very tanks being bombed by western powers. With one video emerging from the BBC of a Libyan tank of which was one of the variants above being destroyed by a large bomb from a GR4 Tornado of the Royal Air Force (RAF).

 

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