TechUkraine's loan T-72 tank takes on Russian trenches: A high-stakes gamble backed by drone intelligence

Ukraine's loan T‑72 tank takes on Russian trenches: A high-stakes gamble backed by drone intelligence

Ukrainian tank T-72 charging at Russian positions.
Ukrainian tank T-72 charging at Russian positions.
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10:41 AM EST, January 28, 2024, updated: 4:44 AM EST, March 7, 2024

Recently, an intriguing video surfaced online from the outskirts of the village of Synkiwka, a site that the Russians have attempted to seize in recent weeks, with heavy losses. The recording shows a lone T-72 tank from the 60th Mechanized Brigade, whose crew, with the help of drone intelligence, targets Russian trenches.

This isn't the first instance of a lone tank charging Russian positions and bombarding them with fragmentation-rupture missiles – a high-risk maneuver. However, with live drone assistance to pinpoint targets, and minimal anti-tank capabilities from the Russian infantry, the gamble seems worthwhile.

A significant threat comes from FPV drones armed with PG-7VL grenades. A possible countermeasure to this is onboard electronic warfare systems, but this only works if the enemy has not figured out their jamming frequencies and adapted accordingly.

It's worth mentioning that standard fragmentation shells aren't always productive because trenches offer decent protection against them. This why the Ukrainian crew repeatedly fires at the same target. Modern programmable ammunition, designed to explode at a specific distance in the air, is a game-changer; one shell can do the job of several standard ones.

The T-72 tank: The most mass-produced base model tank in the world

The T-72 tanks were introduced in 1973 and have become the most prolific tanks globally. At their inception, they represented a significant innovation boasting effective armor for their weight of about 44 tons, a powerful cannon, a low profile of approximately 7 feet, and good mobility. This last attribute was primarily achieved through the use of an automatic loading machine, the damage of which results in a spectacular explosion, often killing the crew.

This issue persists today and cannot be rectified due to its inherent design. Over the decades, the adaptations made to the T-72 have mainly revolved around enhancing armor by applying ERA Kontakt-1 cubes, newer Kontakt-5, or even double-layer Relikt shields, as seen on T-90M and T-72B3M tanks.

The second focus of modernisation efforts was improving the fire control system. Initially, this involved installing night vision capabilities; in recent years, thermal vision has been added. This is evident in models such as the Russian T-72B3 tanks, Ukrainian T-72 AMTs, Polish T-72M1R, and PT-91 Twardy. Additionally, modifications have also been made to the cannon and ammunition repository allowing for longer shells.

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