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Troops of the Panther Division under Western Command recently conducted integrated combat training under simulated operational conditions. This exercise emphasized professionalism and ensured operational readiness. What sparked online interest was the inclusion of T-55 main battle tanks (MBTs) in the drills, a rare sight in Indian Army exercises since 2011.

The T-55 MBT, a Soviet-era workhorse, served the Indian Army for nearly 700 units strong after induction began in 1965. By 2011, these tanks transitioned from the second line of defense, positioned behind T-72s, to the third line with the arrival of the more modern T-90 MBTs in the early 2000s. Subsequently, T-55s began phased retirement after four decades of dependable service.

An interesting detail emerged in 2017 – some older T-55s found new life as fortified bunkers along the Line of Control (LoC). These repurposed tanks, essentially functioning as pillboxes, utilize their 105mm main guns as mobile artillery pieces.

The inclusion of T-55s in the recent training exercise by the Panther Division hints at the potential continued use of these retired tanks in specific situations, possibly for specialized roles or training purposes.