TechRussia replenishes army with obsolete T-62 tanks amid production capacity issues

Russia replenishes army with obsolete T‑62 tanks amid production capacity issues

Russian T-62M captured near Kherson.
Russian T-62M captured near Kherson.
Images source: © X | Ukraine Weapons Tracker

9:20 PM EST, February 25, 2024

Russia does not have enough production capacity to constantly replace advanced tanks and counterbalance losses. A key reason for the production rate of Russia, even for up to 1500 tanks a year, is the extensive recovery of machinery from post-Soviet depots. Here, 'newer' models are often in a deplorable state, while older models such as the T-54/55 and T-62 are in better condition due to simpler construction.

The restoration of older models to combat readiness takes significantly less time. Therefore, in theory, an old tank might still be preferable to none at all. However, in a situation where almost every soldier could possess a lightweight AT4 anti-tank grenade launcher, this can be fatally misguided.

T-62 Tank - A Bitter Taste of Obsolescence

The T-62 tanks, designed in the 1960s, emerged from the modernization of the popular T-54/55 series. This upgrade involved strengthening the armor and incorporating a 115mm smooth-barrel cannon.

In Ukraine, the T-62M/MW models are more commonly spotted. These models formed part of the Russian modernization backup created in the 1980s. These variants feature additional composite armor modules installed on the turret and hull. The MW version has been further reinforced with Contact-1 reactive armor blocks.

In addition, these tanks were fitted with an improved 620hp engine and an updated fire control system. The latter was equipped with a laser rangefinder, facilitating the launch of 9K116-2 Sheksna guided anti-tank missiles.

While these modifications were efficient and advanced 40 years ago, these tanks are now severely outdated. The original plan was to use them like field artillery to shoot at targets with fragmentation shells. Yet, there have been instances of them being used in offensive maneuvers. Their armor is incapable of withstanding modern threats, and their 115mm cannon is ineffective against the armor of modern tanks like the T-72.

Furthermore, the absence of a thermal imaging system in the fire control system renders the T-62 virtually blind in battle, making it much less effective than the thermally-equipped Leopard 1A5, despite its illusory armor.

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