Kamikaze-style weapons are now a big part of the war in Ukraine.
Both Kyiv and Moscow are employing what are also called loitering munitions, and many argue these special drones are changing the nature of warfare forever.
And it seems – at least for now – that Ukraine has the advantage.
The Tank Went Boom Thanks to the Kamikaze Drone
A video of the incident was posted to social media on Tuesday, and it showed the tank slowly moving down a dirt road when a kamikaze drone made contact with the turret. Another unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) offered another view that showed the MBT burning.
It is unclear if the crew survived the assault, but this is just the latest Russian tank to be destroyed in a drone strike.
Victim of the Counteroffensive
The region around Robotyne has been the site of heavy fighting as the Ukrainian military is engaged in its long-anticipated counteroffensive. The General Staff reported last week that successful operations have been conducted in the area.
As of this week, eight settlements in the region had been liberated with more than 113 square km (43 square miles) recaptured. On Monday, Kyiv further claimed that a Russian ammo depot in the neighboring village of Rykove had been destroyed in a recent attack.
Improved MBT – How Many Does Russia Have Left?
The T-72B3 is the latest upgraded variant of the Cold War T-72. First introduced in 2010, it features a number of improvements from the original design including a new engine, new gunner’s sight, new fire control system, and notably built-in Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armor (ERA) – the same armor is currently employed on the T-80U, T-90, and some other Russian MBTs. With these improvements, the T-72B3 was essentially considered a third-generation MBT, and it was expected that it would remain in service for years to come.
Russia reportedly had 558 tanks upgraded to the T-72B3 prior to its unprovoked invasion last year, and it was the most widely employed type in service with the Kremlin’s forces. However, it has also been reported that the Russian military may have lost as many as 520 to date – and it is unclear how many more have been upgraded to the B3 standard.
As a result of the losses of modernized T-72s, Russia has been forced to employ vintage tanks from storage. This has included T-80s dating from the late 1970s, as well as T-62s from the mid-1960s, and even T-54/55 series tanks from the 1950s.
However, the Kremlin is also employing the original generation T-72 Ural from the early 1970s – and while these closely resemble the more modern and capable T-72B3s, looks can be truly deceiving. Those older models are far cruder vehicles that some experts have noted are only marginally better than the T-54/55 tanks, and these early T-72s could even be inferior to many of the upgraded T-62 models.
In other words, while much has been made about the loss of the Ukrainian Army’s German-made Leopard 2 MBTs, the loss of any Russian T-72B3 could be just as significant.
North of Robotyne, Zaporizhia Oblast (Orikhiv offensive axis), a Ukrainian FPV loitering munition hits the turret roof of a Russian T-72B3. pic.twitter.com/nfEtMK1DAB
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) June 20, 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.