Monday 21 August 2023

Steppe Sentinels: Kazakhstan’s Fighting Vehicles

By Thomas Nachtrab, Stijn Mitzer, Buschlaid and Jan Kerdijk
Kazakhstan found itself in a fortunate position when it came to inheriting military equipment from the USSR. The outcome was somewhat akin to a stroke of luck. If not for the drawdown of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany in the late 1980s, Kazakhstan could have been left with a substantial number of nuclear-capable Tu-95 bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), but sorely lacking in terms of conventional military equipment. However, with a significant number of troops formerly deployed to Europe being relocated to the Kazakhstan SSR, the country ended up inheriting a vast arsenal of military equipment far surpassing the needs of the newly-established republic.
Addressing any remaining equipment deficiencies was a relatively easy feat for Kazakhstan as well, as it could trade these with Russia in return for the Tu-95s. Undoubtedly due to these factors, the Kazakh Army has purchased relatively minimal equipment over the last few decades. Instead, Kazakhstan is pursuing several upgrade programmes for its assortment of Soviet-era AFVs, alongside procuring limited quantities of more modern AFVs primarily from Russia. Furthermore, Kazakhstan initiated an effort to establish an domestic AFV production capability, a venture that has seen contracts with South Africa (and Israel) to produce Marauder MRAPs and Mbombe APCs.

Evidently, Kazakhstan has shown a preference for maximising the effectiveness of its existing fleet of AFVs for as long as possible. Nevertheless, the speed at which Kazakhstan has attempted to modernise its AFVs has been notably slow. For nearly a decade, Kazakhstan has been in the process of modernising its T-72 tank fleet, yet a definitive choice of (a foreign) company to perform the upgrades has yet to be made. Facing no immediate conventional military threat, Kazakhstan's existing arsenal of armoured fighting vehicles appears poised to safeguard the steppes for years to come.
This list attempts to list all AFV types currently in service with the Kazakh Army. This list only includes vehicles and equipment of which photographic evidence is available. Trucks, jeeps and radars are not included in the list. This list also doesn't include upgrade programmes  showcased in the country or vehicle types manufactured in Kazakhstan but otherwise not adopted by the Kazakh Army. For a complete overview of Kazakhstan's inventory of UAVs click here.
(Click on the equipment to get a picture of them in Kazakh service)


Armoured Fighting Vehicles

Infantry Fighting Vehicles


Armoured Personnel Carriers

Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicles


Infantry Mobility Vehicles


Armoured Trucks

Technicals And Tactical Vehicles


Command Vehicles


Engineering Vehicles

Self-Propelled Anti-Tank Missile Systems

Towed Artillery

Self-Propelled Artillery


Multiple Rocket Launchers

Ballistic Missiles

Towed Anti-Aircraft Guns


Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Guns


Static Surface-To-Air Missile (SAM) Systems

Self-Propelled Surface-To-Air Missile (SAM) Systems

Surveillance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles

[1] Esoteric Armour: Ukrainian T-72UMG Tanks In Turkmenistan
[2] Russia, Redux: Turkmenistan Acquires The Typhoon MRAP
Central Asian Armour: Tajikistan’s Inventory Of AFVs