The tank was originally called the T-54E, but was subsequently renamed Ramses II.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s the Egyptian Army emerged as one of the largest operators of the Soviet T-54/55 main battle tank. Egypt was then a close ally of the Soviet Union in the Middle East. In the mid-1970s, the Egyptian Army owned more than 1,200 T-54/55 tanks; although hundreds were lost or abandoned during the 1967 “Six-Day War” and in the 1973 war, with neighboring Israel.
As many countries began to launch ambitious upgrade packages, to extend the serviceability of their T-55 tanks. The most notable was the Soviet version, the T-55AAMV-1, with Kontakt explosive reactive armor and the new V-46 engine from the T-72. Egypt was also looking to modernize its T-54/55 tanks as a cheaper alternative to buying new tanks from abroad; due to the large number of T-54/55 tanks in the Egyptian Army. The tank finally entered production in 2004–2005. A total of 425 units have been produced. The tank was originally called the T-54E, but was subsequently renamed Ramses II.
Overall the Ramses II was far from an impressive tank, and was much less capable than other cheaper T-55 upgrades packages developed in the USSR and elsewhere such as the T-55AAMV-1. Egypt acquired an estimated 400-500 of the vehicles, but continues to operate the original T-55 alongside them.
Egypt’s military has completely cut its dependence on the West since 2013. Egypt’s signing of a contract to produce 500 T-90MS tanks under Russian license will bring Egypt’s armored forces back to the top of the Middle East region. And the possibility that the T-55 and Ramses II will be retired in the coming years is still being considered.