TechUkrainians capture valuable trophy: a Russian T-72B3 tank

Ukrainians capture valuable trophy: a Russian T‑72B3 tank

Tank T-72B3, illustrative picture
Tank T-72B3, illustrative picture
Images source: © GETTY | John Moore

6:38 PM EST, December 3, 2023

Video footage has emerged on social media showing Ukrainian soldiers maneuvering a T-72B3 tank originally belonging to the Russians. Each loss of this kind is devastating for the invading forces. Here's why.

Russia possesses a significant number of tanks, but most of them are outdated Soviet models lacking the firepower and armor necessary for modern warfare. However, the T-72B3 is an exception. This is a tank model that began its production in 2011 and entered service in 2013.

According to the Military Balance 2022 report, Russia had approximately 1150 of these tanks at the close of 2021. However, records up until April 2023 document that during the war in Ukraine, Russia experienced a loss of at least 520 units. Most of them were destroyed by Ukrainians in combat, but sometimes the Ukrainians manage to capture a Russian T-72B3.

The tanks that remain functional are subsequently used in combat against Putin's forces. The video footage demonstrates this exact situation. It was noted that the tank in question is a T-72B3, notable for its Sosna-U fire control system, which relies on Catherine-FC thermal imaging cameras.

This is significant because some newer T-72B3s lack this feature due to sanctions imposed on Russia, which resulted in a shortage of necessary components. As a result, Russia has been using a simpler 1PN-96MT-02 system, which limits the target detection range at night from approximately 3 miles to around 1.86 miles.

The T-72B3 tank weighs about 49.6 tons and is less than 22.97 feet long and 7.21 feet tall. Its range is estimated to be about 310.68 miles.

The tank's primary weaponry is a 125 mm smooth bore cannon. Of significance is the fact that the tank also includes an automatic loader that's compatible with Świeniec-2 missiles. Since 2016, Russia has been using these missiles, specifically designed to counter NATO armored equipment. Additional armaments include 12.7 mm and 7.62 mm machine guns.

By May 2023, the number of tanks lost by the Russians exceeded 2000 units. Institute Action Resilience (IAR), a French research institution, revealed that the invading force is projected to face substantial shortages in heavy armored equipment in the coming year.

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