The war in Ukraine has proved to be a treasure trove of combat data and analysis – especially for those who think the era of the tank is over.
Can the tank survive the war in Ukraine? Should the U.S. military still invest in these weapons of war?
One thing seems pretty clear: social media will give us many clues as to what comes next.
Video: Another Russian MBT Destroyed With Simple Grenade – Video footage shared on social media earlier in March showed another Russian main battle tank (MBT) taken out of action by a Ukrainian drone that dropped a simple hand grenade.
The tank was then seen burning at the end of the 40-second video, which had been posted by the Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) social media account.
As with other similar incidents, it is unclear why efforts weren’t made by the Ukrainian forces to recover the tank, but it has been suggested that the MBT was actually located well past Kyiv’s lines and therefore couldn’t have been easily captured.
Instead of allowing it to be recovered by Russian forces, the decision was to further disable/destroy it.
The T-72AV in the Crosshairs
The T-72AV is a modernized version of the Soviet-era T-72B, and it first entered service in 1985. A number of these upgraded models have been deployed to Ukraine.
It is equipped with a new engine and new sighting system but is also noted for its enhanced armor.
The improved tank is protected with explosive reactive armor (ERA) Kontrakt-1, which includes the installation of ERA elements on continuous side rubber skirts to provide greater protection against anti-tank weapons.
In addition, explosive armor bricks are fitted to the front of the hull and turret to further counter man-portable rocket launchers. The turret roof between the commander’s and gunner’s hatches has also been provided with additional protection against top attack weapons.
However, it would appear that these enhancements have done little to counter something as simple as a grenade being dropped through an open hatch – which is now possibly the greatest “Achilles Heel” of MBTs.
Trading a Grenade for a Tank
This isn’t the first time that a video has shown an F-1 hand grenade being used to destroy an MBT.
As previously reported, Russian troops employed a similar tactic to destroy a Ukrainian T-72B3 MBT; likely one that had been previously captured and that had been abandoned after it struck an anti-tank mine.
The crew had apparently escaped to safety, but the tank couldn’t be recovered.
First introduced during the Second World War, the Soviet-designed F-1 hand grenade – which is commonly known as “Limonka” (Russian for “Little Lemon”) – contains a 60-gram Trinitrotoluene explosive charge (TNT), enough to seriously damage the internals of an MBT.
— ???????? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) March 6, 2023
It seems both sides are ensuring that damaged tanks can’t be returned to service.
Small commercially-available drones have been used with great success to carry ordnance, such as the F-1 grenade, to target with pinpoint accuracy.
However, it should be noted too that in these recent cases, the tanks were abandoned and no effort was made to counter the drones.
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.