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Interview With russian Tank Operator: Barbecue Grills Turned Tanks Into Iron Coffins Without Communication

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russia's tanks equipped with a barbecue cage / Illustrative photo from open sources
russia's tanks equipped with a barbecue cage / Illustrative photo from open sources

Before own liquidation, the russian army tanker managed to tell a lot of interesting things about the fighting in Ukraine

Before the invasion itself, russian servicemen welded so-called barbecue grills over tank turrets and even tried to fortify them additionally with sacks of sand, but this time you won’t see any of that.

This invention was supposed to protect tanks from Javelin and Bayraktar TB2 strikes, but, as always in russia, something went wrong.

Read more: Russians Took Bodies and Classified Documents from Sunken Moskva

But the situation turned out to be "even more complex". The evidence for that is an epic interview of the Russian army tanker Captain Alexei Ukhachev in the publication "Moscow Komsomolets", which was published soon after his liquidation in Ukraine. By the way, the article is called: "Hero tankist told about the special operation and died". Defense Express will not argue about "heroism", but we admit that if an invader dies, it is surely very good.

“At first we welded cages to the tanks, but removed them later on”. Firstly, because it’s inconvenient: the machine gun does not move, the antenna when locked on the grille - the radio is on, the connection disappears. Also, the connection disappears due to the power cut, which is a result of the antenna closing to the grille. If the tank catches fire (when get shot) it’s impossible to get out of it. That’s because you don’t have enough space when getting up to full height. Which is why everyone removed them and threw them away", said the russian tanker.

Interview With russian Tank Operator: How Barbecue Cages Turned Tanks Into Iron Coffins Without Communication and What Tankmen Are Afraid of, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
russia's T-72 equipped with a barbecue cage / Illustrative photo from open sources

In other words, the decision to install "barbecue cages" led to large-scale problems with communication in the tank units of the Russian army, as well as the transformation of the tank into a guaranteed iron coffin for the commander and gunner. And the fact that these flaws weren’t identified after six months of testing them right before the war (first photos of these cages appeared in July 2021) is just another illustrative example of all “one-of-a-kind” military-industrial complex of russia.

Moreover, quite logical problems with leaving the vehicle were noticeable even according to the photo shown to any person who sat in the tank at least once.

Interview With russian Tank Operator: How Barbecue Cages Turned Tanks Into Iron Coffins Without Communication and What Tankmen Are Afraid of, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
russia's T-72 equipped with a barbecue cage / Illustrative photo from open sources

But the information about the radio stations is a very positive surprise, which sometimes explains the completely chaotic behavior of russia’s tankers on the battlefield, as they simply had no reception.

But the revelation of Captain Ukhachev does not end there. Because he also admitted that the Ukrainian army is head and shoulders above the Russian army in terms of technology. First of all, at the level of construction of reconnaissance and strike circuits: a combination of drones and ground correctors with artillery units.

Interview With russian Tank Operator: How Barbecue Grills Turned Tanks Into Iron Coffins Without Communication and What Tankmen Are Afraid of, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
Destroyed russia's T-72B3 with barbecue grills / Open source photo

The do everything accuratly. They use drones: at first detect targets then make all necessary calculations by means of tablet and smartphone apps. Coordinates are entered automatically: by the the target mark. The program gives the directional angle of the mortar. Each shot is precise.

Suppose an observer or corrector equipped with a thermal imager, a tablet with electronic maps, can transmit coordinates. That is, not on paper maps, but in an electronic tablet, where you indicate point and the coordinates automatically provided. We didn't have that", said Ukhachev.

Interview With russian Tank Operator: How Barbecue Cages Turned Tanks Into Iron Coffins Without Communication and What Tankmen Are Afraid of, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
Captain Alexei Ukhachev, a tanker of the russian army / Open source photo

He also noted the Ukrainian civilian population, which remains in the temporarily occupied territories: "civilians shoot everything on the phones: the movement of our equipment, location and then upload in groups on social networks, these data are then analyzed and responded to".

Of course, the Moscow Komsomolets journalist tried to process the interview as much as possible so that it did not look like a panic defeat. In particular, there is an attempt to reduce the threat from Javelin and other ATGMs in readers’ eyes. But that was a weak try.\

For example, tanker Ukhachev recalls that in just one day of fighting near Izyum, about 10 vehicles in his unit were damaged or destroyed. That is a whole tank company. But, according to him, “there was only one KIA tank crew, due to ammo detonation”. Saying, that all the others had “light” contusions or injuries. At the same time, the invader himself gives an interview in a hospital near Moscow, where he was evacuated by plane after hitting his tank with Javelin, as he claims.

Interview With russian Tank Operator: How Barbecue Cages Turned Tanks Into Iron Coffins Without Communication and What Tankmen Are Afraid of, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
According to russian propaganda, Javelin isn't worth any fear / Illustrative photo from open sources

Ukhachev also describes that encounter: “The last thing I saw was Javelin. The rocket went up - I shouted to the driver-mechanic: Come back! To get out of this position ... And that's it. The rocket hit the tank - in the turret, next to the Sosna thermal sight”.

According to him, this event took place on March 25, and, apparently, about a week later he gave his interview to the Moscow Komsomolets.

Also, the article noted that on May 10 Ukhachev was eliminated in Ukraine. This speaks of an extremely important fact: the outright lack of tankers in the russian army. Even if you really believe that the tank commander was slightly injured, sending him to the front line immediately after the hospital looks very convulsive.

Read more: Where Exactly In Ukraine russia Might Apply T-62M