The Ukraine war has ensured the destruction of thousands of Russian tanks and armor over the last year plus – a fact that surely upsets Russian President Putin.
Many have even argued that the era of the tank might be over for good – and that would be a major game changer in how 21st-century warfare is fought.
One thing seems pretty clear: Social media will give us all the clause we need to see what happens to tanks and combined arms warfare in the months and maybe years to come.
Drone Used to Destroy Russian BMP-1 IFV – A video shared across social media back in March showed Ukrainian forces successfully dropping a hand grenade into the open hatch of a Russian BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV).
The Twitter account Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) offered a 45-second-long clip, in which the Russian armored vehicle appeared to have been abandoned in an open field when a drone carefully loitered overhead and released an RGD-5 grenade directly into the driver’s hatch.
The incident, which hasn’t been independently verified, had reportedly occurred in the Donetsk Oblast – the scene of some of the most intense fighting of the now year-long conflict. Commentators had attempted to identify the vehicle’s unit based on its markings.
“This BMP-1 belonged to the 9th Separate Naval Infantry Brigade of Russia’s 1st Army Corps (formerly the DNR’s 9th Separate Naval Infantry Regiment),” wrote one reader on social media. However that fact hasn’t been confirmed, and the unit could actually be the 59th Separate Naval Infantry Brigade.
Naval Infantry Fighting the Ground War
It is true that Russia has deployed a number of Naval Infantry units to Ukraine – and these essentially operate in a capacity similar to the United States Marine Corps.
Each Naval Infantry Regiment consists of roughly 2,000 personnel and is equipped with a variety of IFVs.
Due to the significant losses of modern military vehicles, including main battle tanks (MBTs) and IFVs, the Kremlin has been forced to employ older Cold War-era equipment, which explains the presence of the BMP-1 in Donetsk Oblast.
It also shouldn’t come as a surprise that the vehicle seen in the video was so quickly abandoned.
The UK’s Imperial War Museum noted in a recent post on its website, “The BMP-1 belongs in a museum. Why is it still being used in Ukraine?”
The BMP-1 was introduced in 1966, becoming the first mass-produced IFV employed by the Soviet Army.
It was typically issued to motorized rifle divisions and the motorized rifle regiments of tank divisions. Some 20,000 were produced, and while it had been largely retired from frontline military service, a number of BMP-1s are still used by internal security troops of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD).
The BMP-1 in the collection of the IWM was captured during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and has been on display at the Duxford facility for more than 30 years.
The IWM did ponder, “Why are museum pieces being fielded in a 21st-century war?”
It may simply come down to what the Kremlin has in its arsenal.
Russia continues to struggle to replace its hardware losses and is increasingly relying on many older platforms.
In what could be seen as an ironic twist, this particular BMP-1 of video fame was apparently disabled with the aforementioned RGD-5 anti-personnel fragmentation grenade, an ordnance that was actually designed in the early 1950s.
Clearly, both sides are making do with old equipment, but one side used some 21st-century tech – namely small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones – to give it an advantage.
— ???????? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) March 10, 2023
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.