Russian T-62 Tanks in Ukraine
Recently, British Military Intelligence assessed the Russian military relies increasingly more on antiquated weapon systems, including T-62 tanks, to fight the war in Ukraine.
First fielded more than 60 decades ago, the T-62 main battle tank was designed as a response to American and British tanks of the early Cold War.
But more than 60 years later, the T-62s find themselves on the frontlines of another war.
The British Military Intelligence assesses that “there is a realistic possibility” that even elite units, such as the 1st Guards Tank Army, will be outfitted with T-62 main battle tanks “to make up for previous losses.”
Considered the Russian military’s elite armor unit, the 1st Guards Tank Army suffered heavy losses during the battle for Kyiv and then during the Ukrainian counteroffensive in September.
The T-62 has a 100mm thick front armor and a 45mm/80mm thick side armor (depending on the spot).
The T-62 is so old that it can only reach speeds of around 30 miles per hour on paved roads and 25 miles per hour on cross country.
In comparison, the Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams tanks that Ukraine will be receiving can hit speeds of more than 40 miles per hour. Speed, especially reverse speed, has proven to be a key factor in armor warfare in Ukraine.
Since summer 2022, approximately 800 T-62s have been taken from storage, and some have received upgraded sighting systems which will highly likely improve their effectiveness at night,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
BTR-50 armored personnel carriers, which were first fielded in the 1950s, have also been spotted in the Russian ranks.
The Soviet Union produced more than 20,000 T-62 tanks, with a lot of them going into storage after their retirement. Production of the tank ceased in 1973.
“However, both these vintage vehicle types will present many vulnerabilities on the modern battlefield, including the absence of modern explosive reactive armour,” the British Military Intelligence added.
Not Enough Modern Tanks
The Russian military first started taking out the T-62s from the mothball back in May.
On May 23, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense shared intelligence that the Russian military was taking T-62 main battle tanks out of storage and shipping them to frontline units. Soon thereafter, videos of trains jam-packed with T-62 tanks snaking their way across Russia surfaced.
The Russian military has had to resort to using old tanks before of the extremely heavy casualties it has suffered in more than a year of war in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claims that Russia has lost more than 3,000 tanks of all types, while the independent open-source intelligence outlet Oryx has visually verified a little over 1,800 lost Russian tanks.
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. He is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Strategy and Cybersecurity at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.