Tanks in the Ukraine war are dying in what seems like numbers not seen since World War II.
Does that mean the tank is as obsolete as old battleships?
One thing is clear: Social media will be here to track all of the carnage.
A few months back, the social media account for Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) shared a more than two-minute “highlight” video that featured the destruction of three Russian T-80BV main battle tanks (MBTs), and a modernized BMP-2M infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) near the village of Vodyane in the Donetsk Oblast.
“Three Russian tanks (presumably T-80BV) and a modernized BMP-2M infantry fighting vehicle were destroyed by the Ukrainian 36th Marine Brigade using ATGMs including FGM-148 Javelin in Vodyane, #Donetsk Oblast. An impressive turret toss included,” the caption noted.
The authenticity of the video has been independently verified, and it should be noted that it was shot from multiple angles including from drones and mobile phones. The insignia of the Ukrainian 36th Marine Brigade was overlaid on the video.
The unit had seen fighting at the Siege of Mariupol, the Battle of Mykolaiv, and the Kherson counteroffensive. It has been one of the units supplied with the American man-portable anti-tank Javelin, as well as the Swedish AT4 and British NLAW. These weapons have proven to be especially effective against Russia’s Cold War-era tanks and IFVs.
War Video Play-by-Play
A Ukrainian soldier can be firing the Javelin from fixed positions toward one of the T-80 MBTs, which is seen engulfed in fire. Towards the middle of the video, the BMP-2M is seen taking a direct hit to its side – it then proceeds briefly down a dirt road before its three-man crew can be seen fleeing from the burning wreck.
The video ends with another two Russian MBTs hit by a Javelin, with one of the tank’s turrets even blown clean off the hull in the strike. It is unclear if any of the tank crews survived.
Though not confirmed, this would be notable in that the Kremlin may have lost three of its upgraded T-80BV MBTs – which are equipped with Kontakt-1 explosive reactive armor (ERA) on the turret and hull, along with an improved 2A46M-1 main gun. Moscow was reported to have had approximately 480 T-80s (in all models) in active service at the start of its unprovoked invasion in February 2022.
According to data from Oryx, the Dutch open-source military intelligence website, as of February, Russia was estimated to have lost more than 1,700 tanks including those destroyed, damaged, or captured. The numbers could be even higher as Oryx only reports independently-verified losses. Some have tank losses for Moscow over 2,000 total.
Even if the numbers are close to accurate, it would account for more than half of Russia’s total tank force, and explains why the Kremlin has been forced to bolster its numbers with antiquated T-62 and reportedly even older T-54/55 tanks.
Earlier in the year, Russia had lost some 21 tanks, 23 armored personnel carriers (APCs)/IFVs, and eight artillery systems in just a single week.
As the video is quite graphic, we have decided to not embed it. You can view the video here.
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.