TechRussian tank shortage: Old reserves struggle to bolster the front

Russian tank shortage: Old reserves struggle to bolster the front

Russian tanks stored in the open air
Russian tanks stored in the open air
Images source: © X, @HighMarsed

5:01 PM EDT, July 8, 2024

The Russian army is increasingly feeling the loss of tanks in Ukraine. Although these vehicles are starting to run short at the front, analysts report that Russian warehouses and military depots with old tanks are not yet empty. Notably, the Russians have shown reluctance to renovate T-72 tanks. What's going on?

According to data collected by the creators of the Oryx blog, which aims to document the equipment losses suffered by Russia in the conflict with Ukraine, the invaders are losing nearly 100 tanks per month. Despite the defence industry working at full capacity, it can build no more than 50 new tanks per month. The gap has long been filled by old tanks stored in warehouses and depots in the open air. However, the Russians are finding this increasingly difficult.

The Russians have a problem with tanks

As noted on his X account by an analyst using the pseudonym Highmarsed, several months after Russia began its war with Ukraine, the stock of T-55 tanks fell by 31%, T-62 tanks by 37%, and T-80B tanks by as much as 79%. Meanwhile, less than 10% of T-72 tanks have been taken from warehouses and military depots.

"With enough money, time and spare parts it is probably possible to refurbish any tank," explained the analyst. He added that the deep renovation the Russians often have to carry out is extremely time-consuming and costly. Stored T-72 tanks are most likely in very poor condition, and the Russians have assessed that it is more cost-effective to restore the older but much simpler T-55 and T-62 tanks to operable condition. These machines are continuously being brought to the front by the Russians.

The analyst points out that the auto-loader in T-72 tanks could be particularly problematic for the Russians, as it is a relatively complex and demanding piece of equipment to repair in these armored vehicles.

Another analyst, Richard Vereker, estimated in May of this year that the Russians had lost over 1,200 T-72 tanks in Ukraine. He noted that this is a relatively extensive family of tanks that includes various models.

According to him, the most frequently seen variants of the T-72 in Ukraine are currently the T-72B, which, at over 31 feet in length and nearly 23 feet in width, weigh about 97,000 lbs. They are equipped with a 125 mm caliber gun with a firing rate of about 6-8 rounds per minute and two machine guns—cal. 7.62 mm and cal. 12.7 mm. Their advantages include a slightly higher degree of protection (reactive armor blocks Kontakt-1) and the ability to fire a wider range of ammunition, including anti-tank guided missiles.

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