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Modern Algerian Armor

T-62 in Algerian Service and T-62-Berezhok Conversion

Flag of Algeria.svg People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria (1977-Present)
Main Battle Tank – 330 Delivered

Algeria achieved independence from France in 1962 after an 8-year bloody struggle. Since then, the country has built up one of the best equipped militaries on the African continent. The main supplier of military hardware, and particularly armored vehicles, for this regional military power was traditionally the Soviet Union. A supporter of Algerian independence against France, the Soviet Union largely equipped the Algerian Army from the 1960s onward, and some of the hardware delivered in this era has remained in service and seemingly well-appreciated even up to this day, notably the T-55. This does not, however, appear to be the case of its direct successor in Soviet service, the T-62. Delivered to Algeria around 1977, the type has had a troublesome history in the North African country, largely outshadowed by the tanks that came before and after it. However, a recent rebuilding program may give a second life to the T-62 in the largest country of North Africa.

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An ANP T-62 on parade, late 1970s.Source: https://www.forcesdz.com/

An Army Running On Soviet Gear: The Rise of the ANP’s Armored Forces

France’s colonization of the territory of modern day Algeria began in 1830, and despite local opposition, would consolidate later in the century. Generally considered one of the jewels of France’s colonial empire, Algeria was no simple colony. It was the territory where, more than elsewhere, efforts were undertaken to settle Europeans and integrate the territory within the regular French political structures in place. Algeria was, in effect, a part of France.

This did little to prevent the rise of pro-independence feelings in Algeria, which already manifested in a fairly strong popular insurrection that was bloodily repressed by the French Army and Navy in 1945. In October 1954, the FLN (French: Front de Libération Nationale, English: National Liberation Front) was founded as a pro-independence group, which would quickly grow its armed forces, the ALN (French: Armée de Libération Nationale, English: National Liberation Army). This led to the beginning of the Algerian War, a conflict in which the FLN/ALN struggled with the French Army and its local auxiliaries for the independence of Algeria. After years of a long, bloody war, a ceasefire was finally brokered with the Evian Accords of March 1962. In July, Algeria would effectively gain its independence.

France’s colonial war had been widely unpopular, even among Western countries, and while France continued to widely acquire American gear during the Algerian War, there were few countries that openly supported France in the Algerian War. In contrast, the FLN had ample foreign support, both from fellow formerly colonized Arab states and other powers, perhaps most significantly the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. These equipped the ALN with weapons through a variety of channels during their guerilla struggle against the French.

Once in control of the country, the FLN implemented policies generally somewhat comparable with the USSR. The movement-turned-party was by no means Communist, even outlawing and repressing some communist organizations, but supported a form of Arab Socialism that generally clashed with the West. As such, it is not surprising to see that the Algerian Army, the ANP (French: Armée Nationale Populaire, English: National Popular Army), would receive open large-scale deliveries of arms from the Soviet Union and allied states. In terms of tanks, initially, there were a moderate number (seemingly around 110) of T-34-85s received shortly after independence, around 1963. These were quickly followed by a much larger complement of around 290 T-54 and T-55 tanks between 1964 and 1967. A further 50 T-55s may have arrived in the early 1980s. Significant numbers of armored personnel carriers, at first BTR-40s and BTR-152s, were delivered in the 1960s, and later BTR-60PBs, BTR-50s, and eventually BMP-1s in the 1970s as well.

These deliveries would allow the ANP to morph into a fairly large and well-equipped mechanized and armored force, although the exact composition of its units has typically been fairly poorly documented. This force had one clear potential opponent in the form of the neighboring Kingdom of Morocco. Morocco was more closely aligned with the West and had many historical disputes with Algeria, the most significant of these being over Western Sahara. Spain had held this territory, claimed by Morocco, in 1975, and Algeria openly supported and armed a group advocating for the independence of the region, known as the Polisario Front. This led to a divided Western Sahara stuck in a frozen conflict, a situation that persists to this day.

A recent picture of an Algerian T-55AMV. The T-55 has become a workhorse of the ANP, still widely used alongside mechanized infantry, and considerably modernized. As late as 2018, the vehicles were modified in order to be able to use Ukrainian 100 mm Stugna gun-launched anti-tank guided missiles.Source: topwar.ru

The deployment of Algeria’s Army is informed by its historical rivalry with Morocco. Algeria is divided between six military regions:

  • 1st Military Region: located around the capital, Algiers, and does not include any territories on Algeria’s border.
  • 2nd Military Region: located to the north-west, and concentrated around Oran, comprises the most densely populated area, bordering Morocco, and has traditionally seen the heaviest deployment of the ANP, particularly its most well-equipped units.
  • 3rd Military Region: comprises the western part of the Algerian Sahara, including some significant settlements, such as Béchar, a long border with Morocco, and the border Algeria has with the Polisario Front. This strategic region has also seen significant deployments of the ANP.
  • 4th Military Region: comprises the east of the Algerian Sahara, notably the totality of the border with Libya.
  • 5th Military Region: located around Constantine in the north-east, it comprises Algeria’s border with Tunisia.
  • 6th Military Region: the largest of the regions, it comprises most of the Algerian Sahara, including borders with Sahel/Sub-Saharan states, such as Mali and Niger.
A map of Algeria’s military regions.Source: Wikimedia Commons

These last three regions (4, 5, and 6), typically located further away from direct, potential peer-to-peer opponents of the Algerian Army, have typically seen less deployment of modern, heavy assets.

The T-62

The T-62 tank formally entered service in the Soviet Army in 1961, and new vehicles would be produced until 1975. The vehicle had largely been based on the previous T-55 in terms of armor layout and powerplant. The engine used in the T-62, the V-55V, was identical to the T-55’s V-55 in all but the alternator. It was a 12-cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled diesel engine, producing 580 hp at the nominal rate of 2,000 rpm.

Where the T-62 differed from the T-55 was in terms of turret and armament. The T-62 had adopted a new cast turret, of a similar overall shape but flatter and wider, and most significantly, a new 115 mm U-5TS smoothbore gun. In comparison to the 100 mm D-10T of the T-55, the U-5TS would prove superior both from a purely larger caliber and shell, and a smoothbore rather than rifled barrel, which was typically a better alternative to use for high-pressure shells, particularly in terms of wear. This made the T-62 better able to deal with new NATO tanks introduced in the 1960s which, for some of them, became better protected than their 1950s predecessors, for example the American M60 and the British Chieftain. There were also minor changes to the hull, which was slightly longer, as was the combat compartment. However, the vehicle gained only one tonne of weight from the T-55, reaching 37 tonnes. The improved T-55A was actually even heavier than the T-62, at 37.5 tonnes.

In many other regards, the T-62 was similar to the previous T-55. In terms of armor protection, the vehicle had the same protection on the hull. The main front glacis was 100 mm thick, angled at 60°, while the lower front plate was 100 mm angled at 55°. The hull sides were mostly flat and 80 mm thick, with a 45 mm armored collar for the turret, and a similar thickness of 45 mm at the vehicle’s rear hull. The cast turret had more differences with the old T-55, being flatter and wider overall. The armor was 242 mm at its thickest, on the very sides of the gun (32 mm thicker than on a T-54/T-55). Most of the frontal arc was 214 mm in comparison to 200 mm on the T-55, though the shapes of the T-62 turret meant that impacts would happen at higher angles. The armor progressively declined over the sides, being thicker towards the front, and going down to about 65 mm towards the rear sides. The roof itself was about 30 mm thick, though the front part, more susceptible to being hit, was 60 mm thick at a high angling of 80° just on top of the gun. Overall, the protection of the T-62 was equal to the T-55s over the hull but quite superior around the turret. At the time Algeria acquired the vehicle, this would have been a very good performance, especially as the Moroccan Army still had many tanks, such as 90 mm-armed M48s, which would have struggled to perforate that type of armor.

The suspension was very similar, though there were some differences. The T-62 notably did away with the front roadwheel having more space between it and the second, whereas all others were equally spaced. All road wheels were evenly spaced on the T-62. The type of suspension used is a classic torsion bar suspension. Crew composition was also similar to the T-54/T-55, with a driver, a loader, a commander, and a gunner. Operation would also be similar, though the heavier 115 mm shell could be said to be more tiring for the loader, despite efforts made to make it as light as possible.

The T-62 in Algeria

As a major customer of Soviet hardware, it is not surprising that Algeria ended up acquiring T-62s. Some 330 vehicles were purchased from the Soviet Union in the 1970s. The most commonly accepted date for the start of deliveries seems to be 1977, although 1975 is sometimes claimed. Deliveries ended in 1979. This fairly large delivery ran pretty swiftly, and seems to have almost doubled the Algerian fleet of main battle tanks. Algerian T-62s seem to have sometimes mounted a pintle DShK 12.7mm heavy machine gun.

Algerian T-62s on the parade during their first decades of service.Source: pinterest
A color photo of Algerian T-62s, with their DShK raised at a vertical angle. The registration number of the first vehicle can be observed on the front left mudguard, while the vehicle’s number is present on the side of the turret.Source: https://www.forcesdz.com/

In service, the T-62 did not at all replace the T-54/T-55, which remained in service. They instead supplemented them. They were seen taking part in a number of parades in the late 1970s. However, it appears that the tanks failed to make a major impression. Algerian tankers seem to have preferred the older T-54/T-55 over the newer vehicle. It seems there were complaints of the vehicle performing poorly mobility-wise due to an increase in weight, though it being noticeable seems fairly odd, as the vehicle only gained a tonne while keeping the same horsepower output. It is also likely the heavier 115 mm shells, harder to handle for loaders, proved less popular for the crews. In Europe, the increase of firepower could generally be said to be well worth it, but one could see how this was lost on an Algerian Army of which the main rival, Morocco, in large part fielded older or lightly armored Western tanks, such as the M48 or SK-105.

Perhaps more significantly though, it would not be long before Algeria acquired new Soviet tanks, which seem to have been a huge jump forward from the T-62. In 1979, Algeria received its first T-72s, a 100 of seemingly the M variant. In comparison to the recently delivered T-62, the new Soviet tank was superior in almost all categories. It was more mobile, better armored, and better armed with a higher-caliber and autoloaded 125 mm gun. When comparing these two tanks, which, while several years apart in development in the USSR, were delivered closely together in Algeria, it is not hard to see why the T-62 failed to make an impression.

The T-62 Throughout the Years: Myths, Modernizations, and Exports

The unpopularity of the T-62 in Algeria appears to have been such that, in past years, there was a persistent rumor that the vast majority of the fleet was exchanged with the Soviet Union for modernized T-55s of the T-55M and T-55AMV type in the early 1980s. These claims have largely been disproven by confirmation that T-62s were still spotted in service in some numbers occasionally up to this day, and instead the appearance of T-55M and T-55AMV in the ANP from the 1980s onward is due to Algeria modernizing its fleet of T-55s with Soviet support. It remains true, however, that the older T-54/T-55 appear to have received much more attention than their theoretical successor.

Further deliveries of T-72s, and later, in the 2000s, T-90SA have relieved the T-55s from serving with armored regiments as combat tanks, to being used for fire-support with mechanized infantry units. However, the vast majority have seemingly been upgraded to the AMV standard, including ERA, a laser rangefinder, a much better fire control system, and the ability to fire gun-launched anti-tank missiles. In comparison, while upgrades were available for the T-62 from the USSR, such as the T-62M and T-62MV, it appears there were never great efforts to apply them in Algeria.

It also appears that small numbers of T-62s were passed onto the Polisario Front at an unclear date. The group’s equipment is overwhelmingly sourced from Algeria. While its most common tank has always been the T-54/T-55, some T-62s have also been spotted in its service. Inside Algeria, the T-62 has generally been fairly elusive. A regiment of up to around 100 tanks operated in Ain Bessam, 98 km south-east of Algiers, deep into the 1st military region and away from the Moroccan border, in the 1990s, before they relocated in 1997.

It is likely there was some limited involvement of T-62s during the Algerian Civil War, which raged on from 1991 to 2002. This was the consequence of a military coup launched to prevent what seemed like the imminent victory of an Islamist Coalition, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), against the ruling FLN party in the presidential elections. However, the war largely had a counter-insurgency nature, as opposed to a peer-to-peer war, and as such mostly involved lighter vehicles, with the most commonly seen tanks rather being the T-55s Algeria typically relies upon for fire support.

A review of Polisario Front tanks. While most appear to be T-54 or T-55s, the tank in the forefront is a T-62, which was almost certainly supplied by Algeria.Source: https://raids.fr/

One place where Algerian T-62s have typically often been seen is in Algeria’s BCL (French: Base Centrale Logistique, English: Central Logistical Base). Founded in 1975 in Béni Mered (in the Blida Province, within the 1st Military Region, and a few dozen kilometers from Algiers), the BCL was placed under the control of the Ministry of National Defense in 1982. It comprises a number of workshops and has become the largest armored fighting vehicles maintenance, upgrade, and, to an extent, even production plant in Algeria, employing around 2,500 people in 2021. The BCL was extensively modernized between 1987 and 1994 and reached its current status as a publicly-owned, industrial, and commercial company in 2009. T-62s have been fairly consistently spotted within the facilities of the BCL, and it appears that over time, a number of upgrades from the T-55AMV ‘trickled down’ onto some T-62s. A limited number of vehicles were spotted fitted with a similar laser rangefinder, likely the same KTD-2 as on the T-55AMV. T-62s have also been seen with a second infrared spotlight. However, it does not appear Algerian T-62s have ever been seen with the Kontakt 1 reactive armor used by the T-55AMV, nor is it likely that their fire control system has been upgraded to the same extent.

Three Algerian T-62s seen in recent years. They feature a number of new components, such as IR searchlights and what appear to be laser rangefinders, but still are far from featuring the amount of modernizations of Algerian T-55s. As suggested by the red oxide primer that two of them sport, these three vehicles may also just have been experimental conversions done at the BCL, and it appears unlikely most T-62s went through such a range of upgrades.Source: Dr.WatsonFDZ on twitter

Conversion to Fire Support Vehicles

By the 2000s, the T-62 appeared to many as the least active and most out-of-date part of Algerian’s tank fleet. They had failed to go on the same updates as the T-55s, while also vastly outdated in comparison to the T-72s and T-90s of Algeria.

Around the same time, Algeria was still a massive customer of Russian gear. Among notable orders, Algeria was an early adopter of the BMP-2M ‘Berezhok’ modernization for the BMP-2, ordering kits to modernize its vehicles as early as 2006. This adoption would be fairly widespread, extending further than the around 300 BMP-2s scheduled for modernization. A number of BMP-1s seemingly received the same turret, which makes them exceedingly hard to differentiate from BMP-2s.

In the 2010s, Algeria noticeably purchased the BMPT ‘Terminator’ T-72-based fire-support vehicle. Algeria bought a fairly high number (120, though up to 300 is sometimes claimed) of these vehicles, which were delivered in 2020.

An Algerian BMP upgraded with the Berezhok turret seen on the move during exercises.Source: military.africa
An Algerian BMPT Terminator. As of 2022, Algeria is the largest operator of this vehicle in the world. Source: KAD-GHANI on twitter

These purchases (among other purchases of Russian gear by Algeria, such as more T-90s), gave Algeria experience with both the Berezhok turret and the concept of a fire-support vehicle based on the hull of a tank. It appears these concepts were combined with Algeria’s remaining T-62s. It is not necessarily hard to see why this thought process was followed. The 115 mm gun of the T-62 had over the decades been unable to make itself as much of a ubiquitous system as the 100 mm of the T-54/55 or the 125 mm of the T-72 and T-90s. It appears that, as a result, the cost for ammunition and continued ammunition production was much less affordable than for more widely used calibers. Considering the T-62s also appeared to have been poorly valued by the Algerian Army, they were a prime candidate to find another use.

Therefore, at some point in the very late 2010s or in 2020, the decision was made to modernize the T-62 fleet by replacing their turrets with Berezhok turrets. The Algerian Army is traditionally somewhat opaque, which is why the start of the process is hard to place. It appears the conversion was first reported in late August 2021. By that point, however, known pictures of the conversion process were already being shared alongside the news, suggesting the project started months prior at least. The conversion has sometimes been called BMPT-62, though it is unclear if this is in any way official.

There were some changes that needed to be carried out in order to adapt the T-62 hull to mount a Berezhok turret. The most important most likely concerned the turret ring. The T-62 had a 2,245 mm turret ring (largely widened in comparison to the previous T-55 in order to accommodate the 115 mm gun), while the Berezhok is adapted to the 1,740 mm turret ring of the BMP-2. The solution to this problem was to create an armored ‘collar’, of which the reduced diameter would match the one needed. As a consequence though, it would likely make the turret sit higher as well. It is unclear if more changes are meant to be applied to the hull of the T-62s, mainly as, as of April 2022, no pictures of a completed converted vehicle have yet been seen. In order to fulfill a heavy fire-support role similar to a BMPT, some changes, such as the use of Explosive Reactive Armor (with Algeria already using Kontakt 5 fairly widely) would aid in the vehicle being able to adequately perform this role. Some pictures suggest new side skirts are being added to the vehicle, but this is a far cry from a large-scale updating of the tank’s protection, particularly against RPGs, which are likely to be the main threat to an urban fire-support vehicle.

T-62s undergoing the upgrade at the BCL. The forwardmost vehicle can be seen fitted with the armored ‘collar’ for the Berezhok turret. Other red oxide parts, such as what appears to be a basic spaced armor plate around the engine and extended mudguards, indicate new parts being fitted.Source: Dr.WatsonFDZ on twitter
Another picture of the vehicles being worked on in the BCL, showing both the new armored collar as well the extended mudguards and sideskirts.Source: Dr.WatsonFDZ on twitter

The Vehicles Are Unveiled

On July 2nd 2022, footage of completed Berezhok turret conversions appeared for the first time. A number of vehicles, painted in a sand tan color, were spotted in footage shared on the internet. The vehicles were taking part in rehearsals for a military parade to be held on July 5th, celebrating the 60 years of Algeria’s independence, presumably in Algiers. Many other armored or unarmored vehicles of the Algerian military were also seen in the same rehearsal, among which were: T-90SA main battle tanks, 2S3, BM-30 Smerch, TOS-1A Buratino, BM-21 Grad and PLZ-45 artillery systems, ZSU-23-4 Shilka, BUK-M2, Pantsir and S-300PMU2 anti-air systems, BMPT Terminators, and SM4 self-propelled mortars.

The vehicle’s appearance matches what could have been expected from earlier views of the conversion during its assembly. The front of the T-62 hull has evidently received few changes, with the same configuration of the lights and no form of up-armoring whatsoever, be it ERA, appliqué, or other. The same can be said for the Berezhok turret, and confirms that the vehicle’s protection indeed remains very limited.

A completed vehicle during rehearsals for the July 5th 2022 60th anniversary of Algerian independence parade. Source: KAD-GHANI on twitter.com : https://twitter.com/kad_ghani
A rear view of a vehicle from the same group, showing the engine deck. Source: KAD-GHANI on twitter.com : https://twitter.com/kad_ghani
A column of T-62 Berezhok seen from a road bridge. Source: KAD-GHANI on twitter.com : https://twitter.com/kad_ghani

The Berezhok Turret

The turret and components used for this modernization were ordered by Algeria from Kurganmashzavod KPB Tula of Russia.

A dismounted Berezhok turret used as a training aid in Algeria, 2018. Source: Algerian television via Dr.WatsonFDZ on twitter

The Berezhok turret is directly based on the BMP-2’s, of which it is intended as a modernization. However, it appears that new turrets are clearly being manufactured, which is not in itself a surprise, as BMP-2s turrets were still being made and used after the fall of the USSR. The Berezhok turret was first unveiled in 2006, and was a private venture. Russian orders to modernize the BMP-2 fleet would indeed take about a decade to come.

The turret can largely be considered a modern IFV turret. As a result of their BMP-2 lineage, it appears they have kept the same modest armor protection, with 20 mm angled at 36° to 43° to the front and front-sides, and 10 mm angled at 20° to 28º to the rear. The ergonomics are likely broadly similar as well. In comparison to previous Soviet vehicles, and particularly the BMP-1, the BMP-2’s turret is generally considered to have been somewhat more comfortable. The commander notably has a rotating cupola, though it is meagerly fitted with original periscopes.

The Berezhok turret highly improved the sensor suite of the BMP-2 turret. It received a much larger rotating commander’s sight, as well as thermal sights, seemingly for both gunner and commander, a significant improvement from previous models.

The main armament of the turret is still the 30 mm 2A42 autocannon.

The 30 mm 2A42 autocannon, which became the USSR’s most common 30 mm autocannon in the 1980s.Source: topwar.ru

The 2A42 fires the Soviet 30×165 mm cartridge. It uses a dual-feed system. There is a digital display showing the number of shells still available in the turret, as well as a switch allowing for a quick change in the type of ammunition fired. The weapon features a 2,416 mm barrel, fitted with a double-baffle muzzle brake. The autocannon has two dedicated fire rates, a slow one at 200 rpm and a quicker one at 550 rpm. During sustained fire, the rate of fire can reach higher values. The turret allows for a very high elevation of +60° which, coupled with a dedicated high-elevation sight, makes the 2A42 a more dangerous threat to helicopters than what would be expected from a ground vehicle.

A number of 30×165 mm shells are available for the 2A42. The total number of shells carried inside the BMD-2 turret is 300. If enough work was put into it, it is likely the larger hull of the BMP could allow for higher ammunition stowage.

For use against light fortifications, infantry, soft-skinned vehicles, and other unarmored targets, the 2A42 can fire the 3UOF8 High-Explosive Incendiary (HE-I) shells. This shell has an explosive filling of 49 grams of A-IX-2, the standard Soviet explosive autocannon shell formula since 1943. The overall mass of the projectile is 390 g, and that of the whole cartridge 842 g. In high-explosive belts, it is complemented by the 3UOR6. This shell forsakes most of the explosive charge, with only 11.5 g remaining, to mount a very large tracer. Fired at the same muzzle velocity of 980 m/s, it is used for fire correction purposes, though over large distances, the trajectory of the two shells may begin to differ. With a fuse lasting 9 to 14 seconds, the explosive shells will generally detonate after about 4 km if they have not met a target, though autocannons are typically used effectively at much closer ranges. The rate of tracer to high-explosive rounds in a 30 mm belt tends to be 1:4.

For armor-piercing duties, two types of 30 mm shells exist. The older 3UBR6 is a fairly classic armor-piercing shell with a core of hardened structural steel. This steel core weighs 375 g, with the entire projectile weighing just 25 g more, at 400 g, and the entire shell weighs 856 g. It features a tracer that burns for 3.5 seconds after being fired, and has a muzzle velocity of 970 m/s. Its penetration values against Rolled Homogeneous Armor (RHA) at an angle of 60° are 29 mm at 700 m, 18 mm at 1,000 m, and 14 mm at 1,500 m. These are fairly mediocre performances, able to defeat little more than light armored vehicles in the vast majority of cases.

A more modern armor-piercing shell exists in the form of the 3UBR8, an Armor Piercing Discarding Sabot (APDS) shell with a tracer. It features a lighter 222 g piercing core of tungsten alloy. The projectile as a whole is 304 g, and the cartridge 765 g. Fired at a muzzle velocity of 1,120 m/s, this shell seems to penetrate, against similar RHA armor and at the same angle of 60°, 35 mm at 1,000 m, and 25 mm at 1,500 m. It offers much more suitable performance than the older 3UBR6 against modern infantry fighting vehicles. The 2A42 is supplemented by a coaxial 7.62×54 mmR PKTM machine gun. It appears it is fed by a single 2,000 round belt, as on the standard BMP-2.

This 2A42 autocannon is fitted with much more comprehensive fire control systems inside the Berezhok. The turret features a ballistic computer and automatic target tracker, making acquisition and precise targeting much easier. It also provides thermal sights and a two-axis stabilizer. The gunner’s sight, in particular, comprises 4 different channels: a classic optical mode, a thermal mode, a laser rangefinding mode, and a fourth integrated missile-control mode for the turret’s Kornet ATGMs. Independent commander and gunner’s sights allow the turret to be used in ‘hunter-killer’ operations.

In addition to the PKTM, another anti-infantry secondary weapon is fitted in the form of the AGS-30M automatic grenade launcher. It is mounted to the rear of the turret, firing over the roof, and is centrally mounted. This automatic grenade launcher is fed by 29-round belts, with the projectiles used being 30×29 mm grenades. A number of projectiles are available. The oldest is the VOG-17A and improved VOG-17M, introduced with the 1970s AGS-17, a simple high-explosive fragmentation grenade. The later VOG-30 and, since 2013, VOG-30D retain the same general role of HE-FRAG, but with enhanced explosive filling and fragmentation potential. The last type of HE projectile available, IO-30, is fitted with a fuze to detonate it after 1,700 m, which is generally considered to be the maximum effective range of the AGS-30. The grenade launcher is automatic, firing rounds at arounds 400 rounds/minute with a muzzle velocity of about 185 m/s. It is a remarkably light system at only 16 kg unloaded, adding some non-negligible firepower to the vehicle at very little additional weight. Additionally, it can also be loaded with VUS-30 smoke projectiles, allowing it to be used to deploy smoke screens.

An ammunition belt of 30 mm VOG-17A high-explosive fragmentation grenades.Source: armedconflicts.com
A rear view of a BMP-2M Berezhok at a Russian military exhibition. This angle is particularly good for viewing the AGS-30M as well as Kornet missile tubes.Source: topwar.ru

The last weapon system of the Berezhok is its complement of 9M113 Kornet missiles. The turret features four launchers, two on each side of the turret. It ought to be noted that while this is not the case on the BMP-2M, considering the large space available for ammunition storage inside the T-62 hull, storage of a reload of these missiles may perhaps be a possibility.

The Kornet uses semi-automatic beam-riding guidance, meaning the missile is aimed using a laser beam aimed at the target from the firing vehicle. The previous 9M113 Konkurs offered by Tula was, in comparison, a wire-guided semi-automatic command to line of sight (S.A.C.L.O.S.) system, which required the firing vehicle to constantly maintain the target in line-of-sight in order to retain guidance. This more modern guidance system, in addition to the higher maximum speed of Kornet ATGMs (going from 250 to 300 m/s, depending on the missile, whereas Konkurs reaches a maximum of around 200 m/s), makes the Kornet a safer and more accurate missile in general.

In addition to its superior guidance system and speed in comparison to older Soviet ATGMs, the Kornet is also of a larger caliber than most being 152 mm, whereas the older Konkurs is 135 mm. This, in addition to more modern shaped charge designs and components, make it much more effective against armored fighting vehicles. The original 9M133-1 missile was rated for around 1,100 to 1,200 mm Rolled Homogenous Armor (RHA) penetration on average, and the use of a tandem HEAT warhead reduced the protection offered by ERA against it. Since then, the newer 9M133-2 (or ‘Kornet-EM’) has a stated armor penetration of 1,100 to 1,300 mm and a longer effective range of up to 8,000 m. The large caliber of the Kornet also allowed for other uses than merely anti-tank. This manifested with the 9M133F-1 missile, which instead of an armor-piercing shaped charge, contains a thermobaric warhead, equivalent to 10 kg of TNT and providing significant incendiary effects. Both the original 9M133-1 and thermobaric 9M133-F missiles have a maximum flight speed of 250 m/s and an effective range of 100 to 5,500 m.

A schematic of the 9M113-1 armor-piercing missile. The first explosive charge is denoted by the ‘1’ and the second by the ‘5’. The fenders (6) and control systems (7) are at the rear, while the fuel (4), rudders (3), and drive with intlets (3) are towards the front-middle.Source: https://en.missilery.info/
The warhead of a 9M133F-1 thermobaric Kornet, which was found by Ukrainian troops in Donbas in 2015.Source: https://informnapalm.org/

Still, in some ways, the turret may be somewhat of an imperfect fit. As previously stated, without an effort to up-armor it, it has much lighter armor protection than the hull, though it could be said that even without additional armor, the base hull of a T-62 is not protected against many modern anti-tank weapons. The vehicle would have a crew reduced to three due to the Berezhok turret only having two crewmembers, which would change aspects of the vehicle’s maintenance.

Conclusion – A Potentially Potent Modernization, Yet to Enter Service

Overall, the reasoning behind the modernization of the T-62 with the Berezhok turret by Algeria is a fairly reasonable process. With somewhat uncommon ammunition, the T-62’s original armament would have been harder to maintain. While the armament on 100 mm-armed tanks was modernized (in 2018, Algerian T-55s received the ability to fire Ukrainian 100 mm Stugna gun-launched anti-tank missiles), it does not appear there were efforts to offer the same capacities to T-62s, despite gun-launched 115 mm-missiles also being available.

The Berezhok modernization does give the vehicle a considerable amount of firepower which can be used for fire-support roles. The 2A42, AGS-30M, and thermobaric warheads for the Kornet are all potent weapon systems for such roles. It is likely Algeria can very easily see use for this type of vehicle. In its history, the country has at times been the victim of heavily-armed terrorists, a consequence of the almost unpatrollable borders in the Sahara, alongside unstable countries. A prominent example in the last decade was the In Amenas hostage crisis of January 2013. Al-Qaeda terrorists took over a gas facility in the Sahara, on Algeria’s border with Libya, taking hundreds of Algerian workers and dozens of foreigners hostage. This forced the Algerian Army to conduct an assault. Historically, fighting in urban areas against terrorists has been a major concern for the ANP. The potency of a vehicle such as the modernized T-62 in such a role is not to be underestimated, particularly if the vehicle is to receive explosive-reactive armor (ERA), although tas of July 2022, the vehicle has only been seen without such protection.

Algerian T-62. Illustration by David Bocquelet.
Algerian T-62, red primer. Illustration by David Bocquelet.
T-62 with Berezhok turret. Illustration by David Bocquelet, modified by Pavel “Carpaticus” Alexe, funded by our Patreon campaign.
T-62 with Berezhok turret, modified parts still in red primer. Illustration by David Bocquelet, modified by Pavel “Carpaticus” Alexe, funded by our Patreon campaign.

Sources

El Moudjahid Nation : Base centrale logistique de Beni Merad à Blida : Renforcer les capacités des unités de combat, 26-01-2021: https://www.elmoudjahid.dz/fr/nation/base-centrale-logistique-de-beni-merad-a-blida-renforcer-les-capacites-des-unites-de-combat-4618
Forcesdz.com: https://www.forcesdz.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=1741
T-62 on Tankograd: https://thesovietarmourblog.blogspot.com/2015/12/t-62.html#cannon
30×165 mm cartridges on Tankograd: https://thesovietarmourblog.blogspot.com/p/30x165mm-cartridges.html
BMP-2 on Tankograd: https://thesovietarmourblog.blogspot.com/2016/05/bmp-2.html#mob
30 mm HE Round IO-30 (VOG-17) for Automatic Grenade Launcher AGS-17 on Kintex: https://kintex.bg/product-4-242#tabs-1
“Un Mini-Terminator inédit pour l’Algérie” on Menadefense, August 28 2021: https://www.menadefense.net/algerie/un-mini-terminator-inedit-pour-lalgerie/
Algeria upgrades BMP-2s with Berezhok turret on military.africa: https://www.military.africa/2021/05/algeria-upgrades-bmp-2s-with-berezhok-turret

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