Ukraine Employing Captured T-62 MBTs on the Frontlines – Earlier this year, the Kremlin began to update some 800 Cold War-era T-62 main battle tanks (MBTs) to replace the thousands of its more modern T-80 and T-72s that were destroyed in Ukraine.
The T-62s had been in storage, and until this year, few could have expected that the tanks would ever be sent back to the front.
But desperate times call for desperate measures, and the Kremlin ordered the 103rd Armored Plant in Chita, located in southern Siberia, to recondition the antique tanks.
Moscow refurbished and upgraded a number of tanks to bolster its forces in the Eastern Donbas region of Ukraine.
Videos were even widely shared on social media that highlighted how vast numbers of the tanks, loaded onto train cars, were heading off to the front.
Modernized Old Tanks for Ukraine War
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.
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.
Ukraine Captures the T-62 Tanks
Moscow’s effort to bolster its forces certainly didn’t go as planned – as the tanks were sent to the front lines and promptly captured by Kyiv’s forces.
It was suggested over the summer that those improved T-62s could give the Ukrainians trouble – but instead, Russia has simply helped to reinforce Kyiv with more vehicles that are now being readied once again for the frontlines.
This time the crews are Ukrainian, and it is highly unlikely that the tanks will be so casually abandoned by the respective crews.
Senior defense reporter David Axe of Forbes.com reported that the first video of “ex-Russian T-62s in distinctive Ukrainian camouflage” appeared online last week.
It remains unclear where Ukraine has deployed its T-62s or even which unit is using them.
Does It Matter?
As the tanks are essentially a generation behind the more modern T-72, it is likely the T-62s will be assigned in second-line roles – such as garrison duty – which certainly differs from how Russia was forced to employ them.
As Axe reported, there has been no evidence that the Russian T-62 played any meaningful role in the fighting, but that could change now that many are operated by the Ukrainians.
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He 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 and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
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