TechSanctions hit hard, but not enough: Russia maintains strong tank production, struggles with Kalibr missiles

Sanctions hit hard, but not enough: Russia maintains strong tank production, struggles with Kalibr missiles

Russian tank T-90M
Russian tank T-90M
Images source: © | KONSTANTIN MOROZOV

3:08 PM EST, January 31, 2024, updated: 4:34 AM EST, March 7, 2024

The British Ministry of Defence reported that Putin's army has lost approximately 2600 tanks and about 4900 other armored vehicles since the start of the war in Ukraine. Sanctions from Ukraine's allies were intended to impact Russia's production of weapons and armored equipment severely. Despite this, Russia maintains a monthly yield of at least 100 essential tanks.

Russia's tank production is on full capacity

The British believe this production rate is sufficient for the Russians. They think it will allow them to continue operations in Ukraine at the current intensity "in the foreseeable future". This view is shared by the analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

Estimating the representation of individual tank models in the total production pool is challenging. It is known that Russia produces both older and more recent models. Examples include the T-80BWM, equipped with an advanced thermovision observation system, and the T-90M Proryv, often called "Putin's pride". It boasts a smoothbore 2A46M-5 cannon with a barrel diameter of approximately 5 inches, a modern fire control system based on Catherine-FC third-generation thermal imaging cameras, armor reinforced with reactive Relikt cubes, and a 1342 horsepower engine.

Despite their prowess in tank production, the Russians are struggling in other areas. Notably, they face significant challenges in producing maneuvering missiles, such as those from the Kalibr system.

Issues with producing Kalibr Missiles

General Vadym Skibitsky, a representative of the Ukrainian military intelligence HUR, recently noted that Russian forces have not used this missile type to strike Ukraine since mid-September 2023. According to him, Russia is encountering difficulties manufacturing these missiles, as they require many foreign components targeted by sanctions and cannot easily be replaced or substituted.

Oleksiy Hetman, a major in the Ukrainian armed forces, suggests that Russians can produce around 25 Kalibr missiles monthly. He cautioned that a prolonged cessation in their usage could indicate the stockpiling of rockets, potentially in preparation for a more extensive attack. Individual missiles from the Kalibr system can hit targets located approximately 31 to even 932 miles away.

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