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UK tank museum helped reverse-engineer Soviet-era parts for firm supplying materiel to Ukraine

The UK Bovington Tank Museum collaborated with Cook Defence Systems to produce and supply Soviet-era tank tracks for Ukraine’s military vehicles, following a request from the UK Ministry of Defence.
A Soviet-era tank track in the Bovington Tank Museum, UK. Photo via BBC
UK tank museum helped reverse-engineer Soviet-era parts for firm supplying materiel to Ukraine

The Tank Museum in Bovington, Britain, disclosed that it assisted in reverse-engineering Soviet-era tank tracks for Cook Defence Systems, a defense firm supplying components to Ukraine, following a request from the Ministry of Defence, BBC says.

With the US military aid for Ukraine stalled for months by the Congress Republicans, Kyiv and its allies are searching for any available ways to refill its dwindling stocks and repair the battle-damaged equipment.

Incomplete Soviet-era drawings and links from Ukraine, combined with the Bovington Museum’s own track specimens, were utilized to reproduce the replacement tracks. The components, including tracks and drive sprockets produced by UK County Durham-based Cook Defence Systems, have been manufactured and shipped, according to BBC. These parts are designed for MT-LB multi-purpose armored vehicles, BMP amphibious infantry fighting vehicles, and T-72 main battle tanks.

“The Tank Museum’s collections are used for many purposes. When we can help industry and our allies, of course we should. We are very pleased to hear the reproduced track is now arriving in Ukraine,” said museum curator David Willey.

The museum mentioned that challenges in this project included developing new steel alloys to match the original Russian specifications and redesigning forged and welded components as castings to accommodate the new manufacturing process.

Since 1941, Cook Defence Systems has been manufacturing tracks for British armored fighting vehicles, including tracks for the UK’s Challenger 2 tank.

Ukraine’s ally

Britain is among the strongest supporters of Ukraine in its war to repel the ongoing Russian invasion. The UK has been a major supplier of military aid to Ukraine, training the Ukrainian Armed Forces and being the first European country to provide lethal assistance, including long-range Storm Shadow missiles and British-made Challenger-2 main battle tanks.

In December 2023, British Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, reiterated unwavering support for Ukraine, pledging sustained military aid. Cameron stated that the UK had already extended over £4.7 billion ($5.9 billion) in humanitarian and economic aid to Ukraine. He assured that this support would persist, with 2024’s funding expected to match or even exceed the current level, although Cameron said he did not have the exact figures for next year’s spending to hand.

On 12 January 2024, the UK and Ukraine signed a security cooperation agreement, marking Ukraine’s first such agreement with a NATO country, which will remain valid until Ukraine becomes a NATO member.

On 12 January 2024, UK Secretary of State for Defence, Grant Shapps, announced that the UK will provide Ukraine with a substantial military aid package worth £2.5 billion (approximately $3.07 billion), with funding allocated until 2025. He also said Britain has been instrumental in training over 60,000 Ukrainian military personnel since Russia started its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2014. In late February, Shapps announced in parliament that the UK would provide Ukraine with an additional 200 Brimstone anti-tank missiles.

Earlier, The Telegraph reported that medium-sized British defense companies seeking to provide arms and equipment to Ukraine claimed that the UK Ministry of Defense created barriers to them supporting Ukraine’s war effort against Russia.

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