More footage revealing the dismal state of Russia’s tanks has widely circulated last week.
The open-source intelligence group Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) published images depicting the destruction of one Russia T-90 and three T-72 tanks in addition to a BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle.
According to the Twitter handle, the Russian military equipment was destroyed by the Ukrainian army in a recent offensive attempt near Novojehorivka, Luhansk Oblast.
Since February 2022, Moscow has lost at least half of its modern tank fleet. Although the Kremlin long touted that its cutting-edge main battle tanks could outperform its Western counterparts, their performance in the ongoing invasion indicates otherwise.
Russian forces have even had to pull out antiquated Soviet-era tanks from storage to fulfill its armored vehicle needs. Similarly to its tank fleet, Moscow’s infantry fighting vehicles have also proved to be inadequate matches for Western alternatives. Ukraine’s own arsenal of NATO-delivered fighting vehicles, including the American-made Bradley, have fared much better than Moscow’s older stockpiles.
Introducing the T-72:
Derived from a design team rivalry back in the 1960’s, the T-72 MBT has remained a critical component of Russia’s armored corps. When two design teams were tasks to design an improved variant of the older T-62 by the Soviet Army, the T-72 prototype was selected as the more cost-efficient of the two.
Since its introduction to service, the T-72 “Ural” has been exported widely throughout Eastern Europe. During the Cold War, Warsaw Pact countries procured the tank in addition to a litany of other nations including India, Iran, Syria and Iraq.
Over the years, several T-72 iterations were introduced, all sporting newer and more modern capabilities. The most popular version of this Russian tank is the T-72B3, which is fitted with a 2A46M5 125mm smoothbore main gun and Kalina fire control system.
The newer tank can also launch anti-tank missiles like the At-11 or Sniper. While the Ural is a solid tank on paper, its performance in combat has not lived up to the Kremlin’s expectations. Kyiv’s arsenal of sophisticated anti-tank weaponry including the American-made FGM-148 Javelin and HIMARS have been absolutely lethal to Russia’s MBTs. Back in February, the London-based Institute for Strategic Studies estimated that at least 50% of Moscow’s T-72B3 fleet had been depleted. Today, this number is likely much lower.
The Ural’s successors have not fared much better amidst the ongoing Ukraine invasion. Even Russia’s third-generation MBT developed to replace the T-72 has suffered greatly on the battlefield. Designed and constructed in the early 1990’s, the T-90 was expected to blow competitors out of the water.
When it was introduced to service following the dissolution of the USSR, the tank sported several modern capabilities including reactive armor, composite armor materials and smoke grenades. Despite its sophisticated attributes, the tank has a troubled combat history.
#Ukraine: A Russian T-90M, three T-72B3 tanks and a BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle were destroyed by the Ukrainian army during a recent Russian offensive attempt near Novojehorivka, #Luhansk Oblast. pic.twitter.com/M8vyI6cnSm
— ???????? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) September 19, 2023
During the Chechen Wars, the MBT’s vulnerabilities tarnished its name. Considering the T-90’s abysmal performance in Ukraine, the tank’s reputation won’t likely change.
Maya Carlin, a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel. You can follow her on Twitter: @MayaCarlin.
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