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Desperate Putin: Russia is Upgrading Ancient T-62 Tanks For Ukraine War

Ukraine Russia T-62
T-62 Tank in Russian military exercise.

Last month, a video showing “vintage” T-62 tanks loaded on train cars bound for Ukraine went viral online. Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian government, shared a short clip of the 60-year-old main battle tanks (MBTs) lined up on railway cars.

“Old Soviet tanks taken out of conservation by Russia – with no protection against modern weapons. And new Russian conscripts (also with no protection against modern weapons and a modern army – we’ve seen what they fight in). Perfect combination, doomed for success, I would say,” Garashchenko tweeted.

This week another video, which has been seen more than 750,000 times and widely shared across social media platforms, appeared to show a Russian factory refurbishing the antiquated armored vehicles. Dozens of tanks were apparently being made ready for deployment to Ukraine.

“Russia is modifying 800 T-62 tanks for the war in Ukraine. This means that all newer T-64, T-72 and T-80 tanks are over, and new ones cannot be produced quickly. Assess the situation of the tank factory in the video, by the way,” explained video blogger Ian Matveev (@ian_matveev).

Multiple analysts quickly agreed that it speaks of the desperate situation the Kremlin finds itself in, as it now relies on such antiquated hardware. As previously reported, the T-62 was developed as an improved variant of the T-55 series and was first introduced in 1961. It was certainly a capable tank for the Cold War, and many of its design features became standardized in subsequent Soviet and Russian mass-produced tanks. However, the vehicles are likely older than many of the crews – and possibly their parents!

Yet, what it may lack in modern capabilities, it could make up for in significant numbers.

The former Soviet Union built more than 22,000 T-62s between 1962 and 1975, which means there are a lot of parts available to service the basic vehicle. Moreover, the T-62 – despite its age – could be a platform many Russian reservists are familiar with, and even also be an easier platform to be trained on than the later T-72, T-80, or T-90.

Many of the “classic tanks” that have been deployed to Ukraine have also been upgraded to the T-62M and the T-62MV models. Those have been equipped with the BDD applique armor package and mobility improvements as well as the ‘Volna’ fire control system. In addition, the T-62MVs are fitted with the enhanced protective ‘Kontakt-1’ explosive reactive armor (ERA) on the sides of the hull, the glacis plate, and on the front of the turret.

It is still unclear if those upgrades will actually provide enhanced protection “as advertised.” Soviet-designed Cold War armor, including the T-62 as well as the more advanced T-72, have proven to be especially vulnerable to western-made anti-tank weapons such as the American FGM-148 Javelin, British NLAW, and Swedish AT4.

T-62

T-72M2 tank on Army day parade in Sofia.

Iran-Iraq War

Iranian posing on an Iraqi T-62 tank in Khorramshahr, Khuzestan in Iran, just across the border from Iraq.

T-62 Tank

T-62 Tank. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

T-62

T-62 tanks deployed in Ukraine on September 21, 2022. Image Credit: Social Media/Twitter Screengrab.

The fact remains that Russia is deploying equipment that was essentially placed in reserve for front-line service. It is hard to imagine how anyone could be expected to believe it will be able to continue the fight much longer.

A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Jacksonian Libertarian

    October 13, 2022 at 1:00 pm

    Smart Weapons RULE!

    Combat Power rule of thumb: 1 smart weapon = 500 dumb weapons

  2. NeaFane

    October 13, 2022 at 2:34 pm

    Really… why did Germany lost WWII? Better weapons… not enough… when you have an avalanche against you there is no chance… 800 T62 modernized (to an extent) will do a lot of damage…

  3. Doug

    October 13, 2022 at 4:31 pm

    The Ukraine army has already captured around 400 Russian tanks, they are going to run out of parking places for hundreds of captured T62’s

  4. TrustbutVerify

    October 14, 2022 at 8:24 am

    If they already killed or captured the 1200 (and more!) advanced T-72/80/90 tanks sent into Ukraine, what do you think the Ukrainians will do to 800 T-62s? They are operating in nimble vehicles with ATGMS as hunter/killer teams and hitting the Russians in road march with ambushes, artillery and HIMARS.

  5. Old Desert Coyote

    October 14, 2022 at 9:26 am

    “Quantity has a quality of it own.” Joseph Stalin in 1943

  6. Tom Cooper

    October 14, 2022 at 12:02 pm

    Putin’s going to send the 300,000 cannon fodder to war in aged tanks unsuitable against modern weapons. Ukraine will enjoy destroying the tanks or will take them captive after the crews cut and run.

  7. John Rogers

    October 14, 2022 at 12:46 pm

    If there were ever a time to take on Russia, it is now… except they have nukes.

  8. Lepke Buchalter

    October 14, 2022 at 1:27 pm

    By spring, Russia will be refurbishing T-34s.

  9. Bertram

    October 14, 2022 at 6:14 pm

    Looking forward to the youtube videos of these being obliterated with a background laugh track.

    Ukrainians can just recycle the metal afterward.

  10. Scott

    October 14, 2022 at 6:27 pm

    In Soviet Russia, tank drives YOU!

  11. TGJ

    November 12, 2022 at 2:47 am

    Russian apologists claim that Russia will rule the winter, that they will roar back in the spring once their 100k new conscripts are trained and fielded and so forth. They already burned their modern armor and precision munitions which can’t be replaced at any useful rate, their artillery is firing wildly with worn out bores, and the dilapidated junk they drag from storage is getting wrecked IF it makes it to the front. They already burned their quality troops, then the training cadre and useful reservists, and the quality of their new conscripts and their equipment their expected to buy on their own dime is deplorable and getting worse. They can’t win and each day they stay is one more day in the hole to recover a military capable of basic homeland defense within a decade.

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