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.

Ramses II MBT Egypt
Ramses II MBT Egypt

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.


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