Egypt (2004) – Main battle tank – 425 conversions
The M60/T-54 Hybrid…
In November 1984, US firm Teledyne Continental Motors (now General Dynamics Land Systems) part of Chrysler Defence, was awarded a contract to upgrade the T-54 for the Egyptian Army, still in large stocks in its arsenal. Among the origins of this idea was the Israeli Tiran conversion, which seems quite satisfactory for Tsahal…
The original project was to be called T-54E (the “E” standing for Egypt) but was subsequently renamed Ramses II, from the most famous conqueror Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, and third sovereign of the Nineteenth Dynasty. The first prototype was sent to Egypt for extensive firepower and mobility trials in January 1987, until late 1987. By 1989, a technical assistance agreement was signed with Teledyne Continental Motors for additional modifications in the process of more extensive Egyptian testings, commencing in the summer of 1990.
However by 1998, these additional upgrades had still not led to any production. This second phase, which took years to complete, was accompanied by much more modifications than originally planned (focusing solely on mobility and firepower), and ended with a tank which only superficially bears some resemblance to the T-54 and had in fact more in common with the M60A3, the most current Egyptian tank in service then.
From the basic conversion idea, the Egyptians obtained, in the process of nearly twenty years, a completely new breed of MBT which focuses attentions of world’s experts about the feasibility of radical modern conversions (based on a design first drawn in 1946-47) of a main battle tank, much more demanding than for a specialized variant. Besides the chassis front and turret, everything else was taken from the M60A3 and tailored to fit in, resulting in a strange post-cold war hybrid which would have been unthinkable before the globalization.
Hull & Armour
The hull was at first not modified much, but to accommodate the less compact M60 engine, the rear part was lengthened almost by a meter, while the lower part of the chassis was completely modified to support smaller roadwheels, with consequently one extra pair. However the armour seems to receive little upgrades. It is unknown how much the NBC lining have been upgraded, but is collective and helped by overpressure. The amphibious capabilities seems to have been extended by better sealing. No ERA blocks provision had been made so far. However some armor protection has been added, and armored side skirts. A modern fire detection and suppression system was installed in the engine compartment, new final drives, fuel tanks, Blair Catton tracks, and a brand new air filtration system.
Turret & Armament
The new FCS is a SABCA Titan Mk.1, coupled with a modified Avimo TL10-T sight and laser range-finder with an integrated in-eyepiece CRT alphanumeric graphic display (ballistic computer). The fire-control system includes SABCA’s double digital processor, magnification night sight, atmospheric sensors, automatic attitude and associated controls.
HR Textron provided the gun and turret stabilization system. The main gun is the 105 mm M68 ordnance (common with M60A3s), but the original DT-10T breech is kept modified as well as the recoil system for a better fit into the turret. A muzzle reference system and the M60 day/night searchlight are mounted over the gun. IR vision periscopes are provided for the gunner and driver, while the commander have an image intensification system. The turret receive also a new storage basket and completely modernized communication systems. Banks of four electrically operated smoke dischargers are also mounted on each side for active protection.
Engine, Transmission, Drive train
The new power pack consists of a TCM AVDS-1790-5A turbocharged diesel (908 bhp) which have 80% commonality with the M60A3 powerplant. It is coupled to a Renk RK-304 transmission. New exhaust pipes are fitted on either side of the hull rear. The suspension is provided by General Dynamics Land Systems, with six Model 2880 in-arm hydropneumatic suspension units fixed on doubled M48-type roadwheels. The original idlers are kept, but the rear drive sprockets are new, and there are two standard track-return rollers per side. New US-patented tracks are replacing the old ones.
Production & Service
Egypt purchased spare parts for its large M60 fleet and in 1997, thirty M60 series engines from General Dynamics Land Systems ($5,943 million apiece), with more for the conversion of the T-54 fleet into Ramses-II MBTs. Eventually, the design was sanctioned by a full conversion of a first batch of 260 units in 2004/2005, followed by the set-up of a local conversion in an Egyptian tank plant, with some technology transfers. This second phase saw an additional 165 vehicles being locally converted.
By 2013, an addition conversion of some 160-180 more is planned. The overall weight of these converted tank is now 48 tons. With an estimated 700 M60A1, 1016 M60A3 in service, 1000+ US and locally-built M1 Abrams, and now these US-based conversions, the part of soviet armour in the Egyptian inventory has rapidly dwindled in the course of twenty years. The only known active engagement of the 400+ Ramses II in service is the actual events linked to the 2011 “arab spring”. Indeed, Israeli media reported that the 9th, 2nd, and 7th Divisions of the Army had been ordered into Cairo to restore order during the “revolution”.
Ramses II Specifications
|Dimensions :||35.43/24.6 x 11.48 x 9.51 ft
(10.8 oa/7.5 m x 3.5 m x 2.9 m)
|Total weight, battle ready||55 tons (11,000 lbs)|
|Crew||4 (commander, driver, gunner, loader).|
|Propulsion||British Leyland diesel BL 40, 450-650 bhp, later BL 60, 695 bhp|
|Speed||48/30 km/h road/cross-country (29.82/18.64 mph)|
|Range/consumption||500 km (310.6 mi)|
|Armament||One M48 105 mm (4 in) main gun
Coaxial 7.62 mm L8A1 (0.3 in) machine-gun
|Armor||Turret front 7.6 in, glacis 4.72 in, sides 1.37 in (195/120/35 mm)|
|Ammunition used||Antipersonal HESH, armor-piercing APDS|