The T-62 was originally conceived as a companion weapon to the T-55, being essentially a T-55 up-gunned with the 2A20 115mm cannon. Both the T-55 and the T-62 used the same wheels, track, engine, transmission, hatches and other fittings. The primary differences between the two vehicles were the T-62's lengthened hull and new turret design. The new UT-5 cannon could fire its BR-5 APFSDS steel round through approximately 300mm of armour at a range of 1000 metres. This was adequate to deal with the then perceived threat of such NATO tanks as the American M48 and later models of the British Centurion. The T-62 was meant to add long range firing capability to Soviet tank regiments being placed alongside T-55s, but in the later years of its deployment it fulfilled much the same role as the T-55.
Despite being introduced in 1960, the improved performance of its successor, the T-72, the T-62 still sees service today in many of the world's armies, the Arab nations being the largest consumers outside the Warsaw Pact.