TechAnalysis: Modernized T-62 tanks used by Russia against Ukraine prove significantly less effective

Analysis: Modernized T‑62 tanks used by Russia against Ukraine prove significantly less effective

Russian tankers are presenting their T-62M/MW tanks to the commander. The specimen on the left was destroyed shortly after.
Russian tankers are presenting their T-62M/MW tanks to the commander. The specimen on the left was destroyed shortly after.
Images source: © Telegram

10:43 PM EST, February 11, 2024

The video was shared on Telegram by Andrija Tarasenko, showing Russian T-62 tank crews who are theoretically appointed to serve as field artillery, taking the place of 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzers for instance. However, a concurrent video surfaced depicting a convoy of Russian vehicles demolished by Ukrainians, including one T-62M tank with the same arrangement of additional equipment.

T-62 Tanks: Old Relics with No Advantages?

Developed in the 1960s, the T-62 tanks are seen as upgrades to the T-54/55 series, with notable augmentations such as reinforced armor and the launch of a smoothbore 115 mm caliber cannon.

In Ukraine, the T-62M/MW models are most commonly seen, which constitute part of the Russian deep modernization reserves from the 1980s. These models were fortified with additional composite armor modules for the turret and hull, and the MW version was reinforced with Kontakt-1 reactive armor tiles.

Furthermore, these tanks were given an engine upgrade with 831 horsepower and an enhanced fire control system with a laser rangefinder, which facilitated the launching of 9K116-2 Sheksna guided anti-tank missiles.

Although these improvements proved effective four decades ago, these tanks are now seen as less effective on the battlefield, primarily offering infantry support with high explosive fragmentation shells. The armor falls short against current threats, and supplementary protections do not ensure a successful defense against modern attack systems, like "Baba Yaga" type drones.

The fire control system's lack of thermal imaging leaves much to be desired, though upgrade packages aim to amend this issue, including aspects of anti-tank capabilities. Although, the 115 mm caliber cannon fails to penetrate the armor of newer tanks, such as the T-72.

The only notable upgrade pertains to the implementation of an electronic warfare system, theoretically devised to fend off FPV drones. However, Ukrainian forces have managed to successfully bypass these defenses on several occasions.

Old Equipment on the Front Line — Not All Antique Armaments Are Ineffective

Still, it's critical to remember that not all vintage military hardware is inefficient. Effectiveness is contingent upon particular strengths of the equipment and how it is utilized. For instance, the Maxim M1910/30 machine guns, used by both sides in the conflict, prove highly useful in terms of anti-drone defense or fortifications, even though they wouldn't be suitable for direct attacks.

A similar scenario plays out for the Leopard 1A5 tanks on the Ukrainian side. Even though their armor is even less resilient than the T-62 tanks, they possess excellent mobility and a sophisticated fire control system with thermal imaging, inherited from the Leopard 2 tanks. This allows them to land the first hit in a confrontation, a feat the T-62 tanks cannot achieve. Additionally, the T-62 tanks need a larger crew—a four-person squad compared to the T-72's three-person team—making the former an enlarged target when attacked.

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