Top 5 Weapons Ukraine Would Use Against Russia In a War
We told you before about the top five weapons the Russians could use against Ukraine. Now let’s examine the top five arms systems the Ukrainians could employ against Russia. Just to be clear and keep this list organized, these are ground systems for land warfare not for aerial combat. With that said, there is an assortment of Ukrainian tanks, anti-tank missiles, artillery, and multiple-launch rocket systems.
5 Weapons Ukraine Would Use Against Russia In a War: T-64BV mod 2017 Tank
Which Ukrainian tank is the best? This is open to debate. We have profiled the modern T-84U Oplot based on the Russian T-80 platform. This is a good tank but is not made in sufficient numbers by Ukraine to make a significant difference on the battlefield.
Next up would be the T-64BV mod 2017. The T-64BV is an updated variant of the T-64. The T-64BV started out as the T-64BM Bulat. The Bulat had explosive reactive armor, a better gun, a night sight, and a smoothbore 125mm gun with an autoloader. Then the Ukrainians went with the T-64BV mod 2017. This tank has superior night sights, navigation that could be conducted by satellite, and enhanced reactive armor. It can also fire AT-11 Sniper anti-tank guided missiles. Ukraine has about 210 T-64BV mod 2017s.
5 Weapons Ukraine Would Use Against Russia In a War: Javelin Anti-Tank Missiles
The Ukrainians don’t have enough tanks to match the Russian armored force. They have to narrow the gap by using American Javelin anti-tank missiles. The Javelin is fire and forget. That means users do not have to optically track the missile as it flies to its target. There is no additional feedback required after launch. Just align the infrared sensor with an enemy tank and the Javelin delivers the goods.
This is a huge advantage because soldiers can fire the Javelin and then move to another covered and concealed position to avoid enemy counter-fire. Then they can fire another missile. The Javelin can be used day or night and in bad weather. The missile can be fired straight at a target, or it flies up at an angle and then shoots down to hit the top of the turret – usually a tank’s weak spot.
5 Weapons Ukraine Would Use Against Russia In a War: The Vilkha-M Multiple-Launch Rocket System
The Vilkha-M is a relatively new Ukrainian multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS). This is a good way to saturate a target. Say the Russians have a radar station and command and control center surrounded by tanks and various armored vehicles plus troops in the open. This is an ideal situation for the Vilkha-M. A salvo from this MLRS would be particularly lethal. There are 12-launcher tubes mounted on a truck-chassis. Each 300mm Vilkha rocket is 1,763 pounds. Its range is 80 miles. The system can fire 12 missiles in 45 seconds.
5 Weapons Ukraine Would Use Against Russia In a War: The Stugna-P Anti-Tank Missile System
The Stugna-P is a home-grown Ukrainian anti-tank guided missile system that costs much less than the Javelin. The guidance system is semi-automatic and laser-guided with an armor penetration of 800mm. This 130mm missile can be deadly against a motionless or moving tank with modern explosive reactive armor. The missile has a tandem shaped-charge warhead. The range is up to 3.1 miles and can be fired during day and night. The Stugna-P has an advantage of being able to target low-flying helicopters.
5 Weapons Ukraine Would Use Against Russia In a War: Bohdana Wheeled Self-Propelled Howitzer
The 2S22 Bohdana self-propelled howitzer is a curiosity. Instead of tracks it has six wheels. The Bohdana consists of a 155mm gun. The gun is mounted on a diesel-powered 6 by 6 truck chassis that weighs 56,000 pounds. The truck can travel up to 745 miles. The howitzer can fire four to eight rounds per minute and has a range of 25-miles. The Bohdana has the latest artillery fire control system with computer displays in the armored cab and in the rear of the truck. It can take out enemy tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, command and control centers, and radar installations.
What Happens if War Breaks Out? Ukraine’s Military Strategy
Sometimes defensive operations can cause more damage and casualties than offensive maneuvers. The Ukrainians could employ combined arms tactics of attrition – to eliminate as many enemy armored vehicles and support personnel in order for the Russians to stop their advance.
Aside from aerial close air support, this “defense in depth” could be accomplished by using wooded areas and a system of mines, tank traps, and trenches to get enemy armored units to enter “kill zones.” The Ukrainian anti-tank units would deploy in the woods, tanks would be backed up by artillery, and the multiple-launch rocket systems would fire from the rear.
The mobile artillery would be most effective on roads running from the north to the south as they could fire and then rush to a different position along the lines. Same with the MLRS. There would need to be reserve units of tanks that could quickly move to plug holes in the lines. All of this is predicated on excellent teamwork with effective communications. The danger is that the successful Russian use of electronic warfare could jam Ukrainian radios.
Anti-tank missiles are really the key to attritting the Russians. Mobile artillery and MLRS could even-up the fight. Do the Ukrainians have enough tanks to keep an armored force in reserve? Without reserves, the attrition tactics will not be effective enough to stop the Russians from breaking through the lines and linking up with airborne forces who will have entered the fight early. Sufficient numbers of Ukrainian reserve units could stage a counter-attack if there is a Russian breakthrough.
This potential conflict could come down to the Russians simply having more tanks and artillery than the Ukrainians. But at least the Ukrainians could buy time until a cease-fire and both sides, assisted by the United States and its allies, could negotiate a truce.
Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.