TechRussian forces' military strategies shift as attack on Synkivka ends in clear defeat

Russian forces' military strategies shift as attack on Synkivka ends in clear defeat

Remnants of the Russian assault on the village of Synkiwka.
Remnants of the Russian assault on the village of Synkiwka.
Images source: © "Militarnyj" is not a Polish word. Unfortunately, I cannot provide a translation.
7:07 AM EST, December 16, 2023

Despite some victories in Avdiivka, which reportedly cost them over 13,000 soldiers and around 200 assorted military vehicles, the Russians chose to open up new fronts.

One such front is the relatively peaceful region of Kupiansk in the Kharkov region. As per the Military Portal, during the assault on Synkivka, the Russians deployed an attack group comprising at least nine infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) BMP-2 and a T-72 tank. These vehicles shielded many troops. The attack was thwarted by the Ukrainians after five of the vehicles were destroyed, and several dozen soldiers were eliminated. The rest of the Russian forces elected to retreat to their own positions.

BMP-2 IFVs and T-72 tanks - relics from the USSR era

The Russians utilized BMP-2s for their onslaught, a model dating back to the 1980s and considered the direct predecessor of the BMP-1. The most noticeable upgrade from the older model was the replacement of the ineffective 2A28 Grom 73 mm cannon with the more versatile automatic 2A42 cannon. This alteration enabled more effective combat, particularly against foot soldiers taking cover in trenches. The vehicle also comes equipped with a single launch system for 9K113 Konkurs anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM).

In theory, this combination could be very effective, however, it has become very outdated. The installed cannon, although still functional, relies on an antiquated fire control system supported by a daytime sight and a simple night vision functionality without a thermal sight. The 9K113 Konkurs ATGM can only be deployed when stationary, and its shaped charge warhead does not pose a significant threat to the frontal armor of modern tanks, which are often equipped with reactive armor.

The main shortcoming of the BMP family IFVs is that their armor is extremely thin, a result of a design decision to make the vehicle amphibious. Given its weight of 14 tons (about 31,000 lbs) and heavy armament, there was little allowance for extra armor. The front plate is designed to withstand a hit from a 30 mm cannon, but the side panels, measuring between 13-16 mm thick, are susceptible to attacks from large-caliber machine guns like the Browning M2 or DShK.

The vehicle also lacks sufficient protection against handheld anti-tank weapons. The placement of critical elements such as fuel or ammunition storage within the vehicle diminishes the chances of crew members surviving an attack. Notably, two crew members sit atop the ammunition, and the internal fuel tanks are located between the row of attack seats and the rear doors.

The plight is somewhat similar with T-72 tanks, where any penetration of the armor can trigger the carousel ammunition magazine explosion. This is crucial, given that the Ukrainian infantry is well-equipped with handheld anti-tank weapons. Among a defending unit, several soldiers always possess modern weaponry, such as NLAW launchers or RGW90 grenade launchers.

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