Russia Moves into Iraq Arms Sales with Tank Order

Russian tank manufacturer Uralvagonzavod concluded a deal July 10 with the Iraqi military for the 73 T‑90 main battle tanks.  The purchase, worth around $260 million, continues an uptick in Russian military sales to Iraq that began in 2014.  U.S. arms supplies to Iraq, however, have comfortably outstripped Russia’s in all but one year since 2007.  In 2016, Russia ranked third in total arms sales to Iraq after the United States and South Korea.

Iraq currently operates 146 US-produced M1A1M Abrams, and 127 Russian T‑72A/M supplied by the Czech Republic and Hungary, and 4 T‑55 supplied by Hungary.  The T‑90 is a third-generation tank that initially debuted in 1993 and ranks as the second most advanced tank in the Russian model after the T‑14, 200 (of which have been produced since 2015).

The sale continues the Russian military-industrial complex’s practice of selling second-best materiel to overseas clients.  Reports also suggest that Russia has sold the T‑14 to Egypt, India, and China, but Chinese company Norinco claims that their VT‑4 surpasses the T‑14 in terms of both specifications and cost effectiveness.