T-80 Tank Destroyed in Kamikaze Attack: Loitering munitions, also known as kamikaze drones, have proven to be an effective weapon in Ukraine – and both Moscow’s and Kyiv’s forces have employed the small aerial platforms in significant numbers.
Unlike other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which must carry and drop ordnance on target, loitering munitions are fitted with the warhead.
The semi-autonomous vehicles can – as their name implies – loiter over a designated area to seek out a target. Unlike a missile or rocket, loitering munitions can return to the operator if a high-value target cannot be found.
Among the newest of these weapons is the Ukrainian-made POMSTA, which has only recently been fielded by Kyiv’s forces. The kamikaze drone was developed by Escadrone, a non-profit group set up last year to manufacture first-person view (FPV) attack drones and loitering munitions.
Target Acquired: Fry the Tank
The FPV loitering munition – again, also known as a kamikaze drone – could be seen in a nearly one-minute-long video where it targets and then strikes a Russian T-80BV main battle tank (MBT) near the settlement of Zavitne Bazhannya, on the Velyka Novosilka offensive axis. The area has been the scene of intense fighting in recent weeks after Ukraine launched its long-anticipated counteroffensive.
In the video, the POMSTA can be seen striking the rear of the Russian MBT. Another drone captured the attack from another angle, and after the tank was hit, its crew can be seen scurrying for cover. Though none of the three crewmen were killed or likely even seriously injured, the tank did appear to have been disabled.
The T-80BV in The Crosshairs
The T-80BV is a modernized version of the T-80 MBT that was first introduced in the mid-1970s. The tank originally was fitted with the turret of the T-64A while incorporating features from the T-72. It was actually only the second MBT in the world to be equipped with a gas turbine engine.
As previously reported, size-wise, the T-80 was considered lightweight compared to near-peer tanks. Weighing in at around 45 tons, the Russian MBT is much smaller than the 70-ton U.S. Abrams. With a smaller frame, the T-80 is more vulnerable to incoming fire than its heftier counterparts. On the other hand, the T-80 is easily mobile and can perhaps traverse through tougher terrain.
The upgraded T-80BV is noted for being equipped with Kontakt-1 explosive reactive armor (ERA) on the turret and hull, while its armament consisted of the 2A46M-1 with the 9K112 Kobra system capable of firing the improved 9M112M Kobra anti-tank guided-missile (ATGM). At the start of the war in Ukraine, Russia occupied around 100 T-80BV/U models in service – with dozens more in storage – and it is unclear how many have been destroyed or captured by Ukrainian forces.
However, it has been reported that as many as eighty T-80BVs were recovered/captured by Kyiv’s forces. The tanks found favor with the Ukrainian Army’s airborne corps, who see the turbine-powered tanks as well-suited to the frontlines in the Donbas region. The peppy tank is able to get out of a fight quickly – yet that wasn’t so much the case with the Russian-crewed T-80BV seen in the video. The tank was hit by the loitering munition and it was the crew that had to dash for safety on foot.
Escadrone apparently has a new revised FPV loitering munition already fielded in Ukrainian service, named POMSTA, seen here repeatedly hitting a Russian T-80BV outside of Zavitne Bazhannya, on the Velyka Novosilka offensive axis. pic.twitter.com/koUWHFNtiq
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) June 27, 2023
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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.