War in Ukraine: the conflict that has taken countless lives and does not seem like it will ever end anytime soon.
Who will win the fight? Could Ukraine take back Crimea?
We turn now to social media for some clear signs of who might win:
In other words, the idea of delivering goods by drones is an idea that is likely ahead of its time.
Across the world, drones have proven far better at delivering ordnance to targets with deadly pinpoint accuracy as was noted by a video shared by Ukraine Weapons Tracker’s official social media account (@UAWeapons) back towards the end of February.
The minute and 20-second long footage showed a Russian T-80BV main battle tank (MBT) destroyed by a unit of the Ukrainian 72nd Brigade using drone-dropped munitions in the Donetsk Oblast.
The drone then deployed its ordnance on the rear hull compartment of the tank at the radiator, instantly immobilizing the MBT.
Additional munitions were subsequently dropped into the open hatch of the tank, which was seen burning at the end of the video.
The type of drone employed in the attack isn’t known, but since the start of the war a year ago, Ukraine has relied on commercially-available “off-the-shelf” drones to drop ordnance on Russian military vehicles with great effect.
It highlights how a fairly low-cost weapon can destroy an MBT that cost millions of dollars.
The videos have also proven to be a major propaganda coup for Kyiv as it highlights Russia’s setbacks on the battlefield – and also highlighted that even a year after launching its unprovoked invasion; the Kremlin’s forces appear utterly unprepared for combat operations against a modern-equipped military.
T-80 in the Crosshairs
Even the T-80BV, which is one of Moscow’s more advanced MBTs, has proven to be underwhelming when employed by Russian crews. The original T-80 was actually quite advanced for its day, and when the T-80 first entered service in 1976, and was only the second MBT to be equipped with a gas turbine engine after the Swedish Strv 103. The MBT has been steadily upgraded and improved, and variants of the MBT were exported to Cyprus, Egypt, Pakistan, and even South Korea.
The T-80B variant was the first to see major improvements, and that included a new turret, laser rangefinder, and improved armor. It first entered service in 1978, and it was just seven years later that the T-80BV then was introduced with additional enhancements that most notably included its reactive armor.
Vast numbers of the T-80BV were still in service during the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Despite the large numbers produced, and the efforts to keep the ubiquitous T-80 upgraded, it only had its initial combat deployment during the First Chechen War in 1994. To say it didn’t go well is a bit of an understatement, as many were destroyed in urban environments. Significant numbers were lost in fighting against lightly armed guerrillas, but that was due as much to poor Russian tactics as actual flaws in the design. However, Russia opted not to deploy the tank in 1999’s Second Chechen War or the 2008 Russo-Georgian War.
Some 5,500 T-80s have been built over the past four and half decades, although it is unclear how many may have now been destroyed in Chechnya and Ukraine.
A T-80BVM that was taking part in the attempted recovery of the T-80BV received minor damage. pic.twitter.com/d15IPSAqeT
— ???????? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) February 27, 2023
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Author Experience and Expertise
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 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.