It’s not the price, it’s the upkeep

Costa Rica officials are upset at the news that neighboring Nicaragua plans to buy 50 military tanks from Russia.

News reports from Nicaragua say that the government there will be paying $80 million for the tanks.

President Daniel Ortega might not be getting such a great deal. Russia, when it was called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was close to giving away the T-72 tanks when the Berlin wall came down even as the socialist state did. Some Russian soldiers were caught cutting up the tanks to sell for scrap.

Although they are not showing up on eBay, there are plenty of suppliers online who can provide a Russian tank.

The Czech Republic is selling the 45-ton vehicles for $50,000 because they want to obtain newer ones from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. That price probably does not include shipping or parts.

Ortega will need the parts because the Russian tanks are generally unreliable.

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís has said he is worried about more arms in Central America.

Russian tank vendors had some bad times after U.S. forces cut through the machines in two engagements in Iraq. And that was on the ground. Such tanks are highly vulnerable to hunter aircraft and even rockets from helicopters. Costa Rica probably could obtain such weapons online, too.

Nicaragua is reported ready to accept delivery next year. Ortega better pick up some tanker trucks, too, because the 12-cylinder T-72 eats diesel, about two gallons a mile. So taking the tank detachment out for a spin some weekend might burn 10,000 gallons of fuel.

Of course, Russia might be selling T-90 tanks, which are a successor to the T-72. The T-90 might be better suited for Nicaraguan swamps. And the Russians would like to dump them because the new T-14 was the star of the last Victory Day parade.  So far there are not enough of these to offer other countries.

The Russian salesman who probably got a promotion after making the deal with Ortega is not done. All current Russian tank models can carry and fire rockets and guided missiles. And there are some optional air defense systems plus systems to identify and destroy incoming anti-tank projectiles.

These obligatory options could be good for $80 million more.

A little body work and some paint, and this T-72, which took a hit in the Ukraine, will be ready for Nicaragua.

A little body work and some paint, and this T-72, which took a hit in the Ukraine, will be ready for Nicaragua.

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