Friday, September 29, 2023

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Russia Has to Deploy Older Soviet-era Tanks Amid Losses in Ukraine–UK

Russia is said to be relying more on six-decade-old tanks because of its heavy armored losses in the invasion of Ukraine.

The UK Ministry of Defense (MOD) said on Monday that Russia’s military is turning to T-62 main battle tanks (MBTs) to shore up equipment deficits on the battlefield.

The defense officials described as a “realistic possibility” that even units of Russia’s premier tank forces—the 1st Guards Tank Army (1 GTA)—will be re-equipped with the MBT, which first entered Soviet service in 1961.

The 1 GTA had been due to receive third-generation Armata T-14 tanks in 2021, but these have been beset with delays due to technical problems.

Over recent days, the even-older Russian BTR-50 armored personnel carriers, which were first fielded in 1954, have also been deployed in Ukraine for the first time, the MOD said.

Since summer 2022, around 800 T-62s had been taken from storage. Some had received upgraded sighting systems, which will highly likely improve their night-effectiveness.

But these older vehicles will be vulnerable on the battlefield. This is partly because of the “absence of modern explosive reactive armor,” the UK defense officials said in their daily update, which emphasizes Russian losses and Ukrainian gains.

In the 1980s, thousands of T-62s were modernized and given new defenses and more powerful engines. But defense publication The Drive reported in October 2022 that Russia’s forces had been hit hard by high equipment losses and the impact of sanctions on its arms industry. It described the T-62s taken out of deep storage as “nearly antique” and of “debatable utility.”

Video released in 2022 showed retired Russian general and prominent pundit on Russian TV, Andrey Gurulyov, visit the 103 Armored Repair Plant. This is based in the country’s far-eastern Transbaikal Krai region, where employees were working on T-62s.

Gurulyov described how the T-62s would be updated with new thermal and night vision optics and additional armor. But he did not mention updating the tank’s armament, which consists of a 115 mm main gun, a 7.62 mm machine gun to its right, and a 12.7 mm machine gun on top of the turret.

Russia has 2,800 tanks and 13,000 other armored vehicles, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Another 10,000 tanks and 8,500 armored vehicles are in storage, although it is not known what condition they are in.

Oryx, an open-source intelligence outlet, has said that Russians have lost about 1,300 armored vehicles and 1,787 tanks in the war as of Monday.

Newsweek has contacted the Russian defense ministry for comment.

Russia is said to be relying more on six-decade-old tanks because of its heavy armored losses in the invasion of Ukraine.

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