​What Else Beside T-62 and BTR-50 russia Can Pull Out From its Half Century-Old Stocks

ZSU-57-2 self-propelled AA gun / Open source photo
ZSU-57-2 self-propelled AA gun / Open source photo

There are still some rarities left in storage in the russian federation that it's army can start refurbishing, such as T-55, ZSU-57-2 and the ASU-85 self-propelled gun

The russian army is sending to the Ukrainian frontlines older and older equipment now reaching down to the 1960s. It seems to have completely forgotten all its myths about thousands of Armatas, Bumerangs, Kurganets's and many other wunderwaffes, and the restoration of all these Soviet-era rarities became a solution to the lack of their newer variants.

Still, besides the already seen T-62 tanks and BTR-50 armored personnel carriers, there should be even older vehicles out there in russia's reserve stocks. And it looks like a matter of time before they get to the frontlines in Ukraine, and a matter of industrial capacity of the 103rd Armor Plant in Chita that restores only 7 T-62s a month instead of planned 22 to 23 units.

Read more: ​No "Armata" On Ukrainian Frontlines, But Here You Have the "Modernized" T-62 of 2022 Edition
BTR-50 armored personnel carrier
BTR-50 armored personnel carrier / Open source photo

Moreover, the further the facility will work on refurbishment of the old tanks, the slower it will get: the logic is that they start by taking for repairs the vehicles in better shape first, then switch to the ones in a worse condition which take more working hours to put back in service. Also, soon the T-62 will start returning from the frontlines in need for repair and that will require additional resources, too.


Therefore, the next closest tank to revive would be the T-55. Formally, this tank was put out of service just in 2010. According to The Military Balance 2014, there were about 2,800 T-55 tanks in storage in russia. Surely not all of them survived dozens of years spent in reservation, basically at landfill sites. Yet, the resource is there, even though it would take 5 to 10 vehicles to recompose a single working one.

Furthermore there is already a candidate to take up on the task of refurbishing the T-55s – the tank factory in Omsk that some time ago offered to modernize them up to the T-55M5 version. This variant keeps the 100mm gun and receives a new fire control system, sites, enhanced armor with Relikt explosive reactive armor modules. Also, it features a modernized engine of 690 horsepower instead of the standard 581 hp and a reinforced undercarriage.

T-55 tank / Open source photo

However such a large-scale modernization is now too hard for russia to pull off as it requires scarce components destined for newer tanks. Thus the refurbished T-55 would not be significantly different from the one adopted back in 1958, just dressed up with as many Kontakt ERA modules as physically possible.

Modernized T-55M5 tank
Modernized T-55M5 tank / Open source photo


While russia establishes the production of hybrids of MT-LB with 2M-3 AA gun as a turret, there are ZSU-57-2 waiting for their time at russian warstocks. This self-propelled anti-aircraft system armed with two 57-millimeter S-60 guns was adopted in 1955, and was rather quickly replaced by ZSU-23-4 Shilka.

ZSU-57-2 self-propelled AA gun
ZSU-57-2 self-propelled anti-aircraft gun / Open source archive photo

The reasons for replacement were slow rate of fire, lack of own radar, only manual aiming mode and overall combat effectiveness. But it won't stop the country that has already gone all the way down from the Derivatsiya-PVO to handmade AA installations.

All the more that some data says ZSU-57-2 were still formally in service with the russian army in 2010, with no records afterward. But in case of necessity, the Kremlin can always turn to its allies for more. For example, iran still has up to 80 ZSU-57-2 in service and Mozambique has about twenty as well.

ZSU-57-2 in active service in Syria
ZSU-57-2 in active service were seen in Syria as well / Open source photo


Against the background of heavy losses among russian airborne troops, russia need to cover them up somehow, too. One of possible options is to restore ASU-85 self-propelled artillery systems, it's basically an anti-tank SPG on the chassis from the PT-76 amphibious tank with an 85mm gun.

ASU-85 self-propelled anti-tank artillery system
ASU-85 self-propelled anti-tank artillery system / Open source photo

It was put into service in 1958 and was produced in a rather small, as for the Soviet army, number of about 500 units. The howitzer was decommissioned in the 1980s and some of them should still remain in storage. For a 15.5-ton vehicle, the ASU-85 has a fairly powerful gun, and it had characteristic minimalistic armor and a low-power 210 hp engine, which strictly limited the vehicle's mobility.

Although the concept of this vehicle might be obsolete, russian military is fond of this kind of weapon combining big caliber and light armor, culminating in the development called 2S25M Sprut-SD, the 125mm gun enclothed in aluminum armor. They wished to start producing the Sprut-SD in 2023 but given the current prospects of this project, the russians are likely to start restoring the ASU-85s sooner.

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