Sunday, April 17, 2011

Former Yugoslav Nations Seek to Partner on Kuwaiti M-84 Upgrade Contract

Three European nations that were part of the former Yugoslavia - Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia - are seeking to partner on a joint venture to overhaul Kuwait's M-84 tank fleet.

Kuwait ordered 155 M-84 tanks from the former Yugoslavia in 1989, deliveries of which began in 1990. Production of the M-84 tank - a Yugoslav version of the Soviet T-72 - began in 1984. The tank parts were manufactured in 240 factories across Yugoslavia, with another 1,000 factories indirectly involved in equipping the tanks. Despite the outbreak of the Balkan wars in the early 1990s, tank production continued in Serbia and Croatia even though the two had suspended relations with each other.

The Serbian Defense Ministry has announced that overhaul and modernization work on the Kuwaiti tanks could be worth up to $400 million. Serbia's arms trading company Yugoimport has touted two modernized versions of the tank in recent years, with the ability to fire laser-guided anti-tank missiles considered one of the chief improvements to the original model.

With many of the former factories that aided in the production of the M-84 no longer in service, Serbia has reached out to its neighbors to participate in a joint venture that would lock down the contract.

Croatia's Duro Dakovic factory in Slavonski Brod - which undertook final assembly of the tank during the Yugoslav period - is an interested party, and Slovenia's membership in the European Union is seen as a way of easing a final agreement with Kuwait. Serbia's Kragujevac-based Technical Overhaul Bureau is also seen as a potential contributor to the Kuwaiti M-84 overhaul endeavor.

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