Why waste a million bucks on a Ferrari, when 50,000 dollars can get you a T-72 tank itself? For military novices, T-72 is not some obsolete World War-era tank. It was until quite recently, the main battle tank of the Russian forces. Just look at this monster. How would you feel like getting the old boy out for a spin and scare the hell out of your neighbour’s dog with its five-inch gun?
It is currently still in the Russian army’s books with more than 5,000 currently in service right now. It is as current as it comes and you can get your hands on it for less than the price of all the metal used in making this beast of destruction. But who do you get tanks like these when the Russian military isn’t fond of selling its military hardware to its cold war enemies and their civilians?
During the Cold War, Russians had a similar kind of alliance like NATO named the Warsaw Pact and the countries included in it were on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain that divided Europe virtually in two. Such was the swift demise of the Communist World that the Soviet military left most of its hardware in countries like Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Ukraine in a full operational state. Now most of these countries were swift in switching their allegiances to NATO but probably didn’t think about the hundreds of thousands of tanks, artillery and even aeroplanes lying in their premises.
Once they had joined the North Atlantic Organization, they couldn’t receive all the free parts from the Russians to keep them rolling. With time, many of them started collecting rust, and the countries were in a fix what to do with them. A simple idea clicked in their minds? Why not sell it on the international black market of heavy military machinery and earn some bucks?
Vojtech Svoboda, a Czech dealer from the capital of Prague says that all the stuff on sale by his consortium was purchased at dirt cheap prices from the military. Especially since he was on “good terms” with the people there. His Mortar investments have been delivering this type of hardware to clients all across the globe. Some of his stuff is even listed in the local army’s books as “scrapped” rather than resold and that is where his smartness paid off. Now he wants to equip people around the world with these heavy military machines.
By no means tanks are the only cool stuff available at his arms dealer. Attack helicopters, fighter jets, Missile launching mobile vehicles and heavy artillery are some of the weapons you can get your hands to and even get delivered anywhere in the world. Afghan warlords, Central Asian warring tribes, rebels, resistance movements and even fully-fledged armies are their clients. We don’t know who else couldn’t be. Al Qaeda, Guerrilla warfare groups, Maoists in India and God knows who else. There isn’t any concept of Ethics in military weapons dealers nowadays. Even the US government itself can’t directly provide machinery to some allies and they just refer to these dealers and “assist” in their delivery.
So that’s it. 50,000 USD flat for this bad boy and if you want it to arrive sparkling and refurbished, you will need to add 30,000 $ more. Where the hell do these guys get access to their overhauling facilities? Even with the refurbishment fee, the tank is worth more than its steel components en weight.
Ordering initializes at a 30 percent deposit and a two month wait as your money bamboozles paperwork from Czech authorities. Further two months see the major cleaning operation after 30 years of abandonment. The package even comes with a manual! But be sure to ask for a one in English as the original ones were in either Czech or Russian. Now it depends on how you want to take it to your country’s safe shores. An American customer would require an application for permit and import of firearms (Try 45-tonne tanks) as well as other small formalities that include an International Import Certificate from Department of Commerce. Well, you could also attempt to bring the tank part by part across the Atlantic. The minimum punishment for which will be like several decades or so!
Nevertheless, it would be fun to drive around the town, scaring poor Cold War veterans on the sidewalks and watch them scramble for cover. That is if you indeed get your hands on these. If you are serious enough to pursue this, prepare to have some tea with Afghan Warlords. They will give you one helluva ride on these tanks!