The war in Ukraine is very much back in the news – and always in the news – as hundreds of thousands of men and women have tragically died in the conflict.
What many thought would be a quick invasion and victory for Putin instead became a war of attrition.
What will happen next? We know that we can see a lot of action and fighting thanks to the rise of social media.
Annihalted Armor in Ukraine
What We Can See
The in-video caption reads “a russian tank fires in our direction, and then …” suggesting that the tank is firing.
I cannot tell from the video if the tank is indeed firing, but what is evident from the video is that the tank is being fired upon.
The tank reacts accordingly and “bugs out,” retreating from the buildings to flee through a nearby field.
The evasive maneuvering is of no use, however.
What Destroyed the Tank?
“Russian tank unsuccessfully tries to run away from the Javelin,” the caption reads.
More on the Javelin
The Javelin entered service in 1996, replacing the M47 Dragon, which was a basic system relative to the Javelin. Whereas the Dragon used a wire-guided tracking system, the Javelin relies upon an infrared guidance system that can track a target’s (in this case the Russian tank’s) light emissions.
The beauty of the infrared guidance system is that it operates as a “fire and forget” device, meaning the operator doesn’t have to sit (potentially in a dangerous position) while the missile he has already fired tracks its target all the way to impact (which is what a Dragon operator was required to do). Instead, with the infrared guidance system, the operator can fire the missile – and then immediately seek cover.
One of the Javelin’s more advanced features is its ability to operate with two different flight profiles.
First, is the top-attack flight profile, in which the Javelin attacks armored vehicles from above (where armor is commonly at its weakest).
In top attack mode, the missile climbs sharply immediately after being launched, to a peak altitude of 490 feet, before descending on its target from above.
Presumably, the Javelin in Special Kherson Cat’s video used the top-attack mode, which is the standard mode for attacking armored vehicles.
Second, the Javelin can be used in direct-attack mode, which is what it sounds like: the Javelin flies straight from launcher to target. Direct attack is most commonly selected against helicopters or fortifications.
Russians losing thousands of tanks
One of the more remarkable statistics coming from the Russo-Ukraine War is the rate at which Russia is losing tanks and armored vehicles.
According to Ukraine (whose numbers are likely inflated), Russia has lost 3,532 tanks.
Russian tank unsuccessfully tries to run away from the Javelin pic.twitter.com/YbPuOEpk5L
— Special Kherson Cat ???????????? (@bayraktar_1love) March 20, 2023
Less partisan sources (like Dutch outlet Oryx) count Russia’s tank losses at just below 2,000. Whatever the exact number, the pattern is clear: Russia is losing tanks at an unsustainable rate. As the International Institute for Strategic Studies estimates, Russia lost 50 percent of its pre-war tank fleet in just the first nine months of fighting.
The Special Kherson Cat video is representative of Russia’s significant tank attrition problem.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.