Russia's Tank Assault Fiasco And Ukraine's Armor Issues (Analysis)

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Russia's Tank Assault Fiasco And Ukraine's Armor Issues (Analysis)

Defense Express tried to find out Ukraine’s tank fleet problems as well as russia’s tank losses during the war between the two countries

It’s not a secret that russia suffered tremendous losses in heavy armor during the russo-Ukraine war (only according Oryx military portal as of April 27 they lost 571 tanks). The given data on this website (table below) allows to find out how many enemy tanks were lost according to their type and number along with their “fate” (destroyed, damaged, captured).

Russian tanks lost in the war with Ukraine

Read more: Why russia’s Advanced T-90M and T-14 Armata Aren’t On the Battlefield

Type

Overall

Destroyed

Damaged

Abandoned

Captured

Т-72B

104

54

6

6

38

Т-72B3M

93

40

3

8

42

Т-72B3

92

42

4

8

38

Unknown

76

67

6

1

2

Т-80U

63

23

2

15

23

Т-72BM

41

21

4

4

12

Т-80BV

20

6

3

2

9

Т-80BVM

18

4

-

1

13

Т-90А

18

5

-

4

9

Т-64BV

14

7

3

-

4

Т-72А

14

6

-

-

8

Т-72АV

8

5

1

-

2

Т-80UЕ1

4

1

-

-

3

Т-72BА

3

-

1

-

2

Т-80UK

2

-

-

1

1

Т-80UМ2

1

1

-

-

-

Overall

571

293

14

49

215

Upgraded 185 T-72B3/B3M are the majority of lost tanks (32% of all losses). On the one hand, such high losses are explained by the fact that the T-72B3/B3M are the most massive in the war with Ukraine. The units from Western Military District of russia are equipped with them (47th Guards Tank Division, also 2nd, 3rd and 18th Guards Motor Rifle Division and 138th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade), Southern Military District of Russia (20th, 42nd and 150th Guards Motor Rifle Division, 205th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade, 126th Coastal Defense Brigade, 4th and 7th Military Base), Central Military District of Russia (90th Guards Tank Division, 21st and 74th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade, 201st Military Base) and Eastern Military District (36th and 37th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade) along with 7th and 76th Guards Air Assault Division.

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Open source photo

On the other hand, russia’s experts can’t explain such losses of T-72B3 and especially T-72B3M. These tanks were official stated to have high level of defense. However, only 89 units of T-72B3/T-72B3M (48%) were destroyed or damaged. 96 units (52%) were abandoned or captured, though. Russia’s experts assume, that the reason for that is fear and uncertainty about survivability of their tanks, their technical imperfections, low reliability.

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russia's T-72B3 "reinforced" with birch/ Open source photo

One more important reason turned out to be poor logistics and technical supply – tanks were abandoned, in case they broke down or had no fuel. Not willing to fight is the only reason why the discovered tanks had the fuel fused deliberately.

In the second place were 170 non-upgraded T-72 tanks (104 T-72B, 41 T-72BM, 14 T-72A, 8 T-72AV, 3 T-72BA). It’s 30% of all lost tanks. Such obsolete tanks are fought for russia. The units from Western Military District of russia are equipped with them (2nd, 3rd and 144th Guards Motor Rifle Division), Southern Military District of russia (150th Guards Motor Rifle Division and 102nd Military Base), Central Military District (90th Guards Tank Division, 21st and 35th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade), as well as units of 1st and 2nd Army Corps of so-called DPR and LPR.

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russia threw into battle T-72 literally in the state of museum exhibits / Illustrative photo from open sources

98 older models of T-72 were destroyed and damaged (58%), and 72 (42%) were abandoned and captured. This can be explained by better reliability of older models of T-72.

In third place in terms of losses were 108 T-80 (64 T-80U, 20 T-80BV, 18 modernized T-80BVM, 4 T-80UE1, 2 Commander T-80UK and 1 experimental T-80UM2). This is 19% of all lost tanks. The units from Western Military District of russia are equipped with them (4th Guards Tank Division, 200th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade), Eastern Military District (38th, 39th, 57th, 64th and 69th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade plus 40th an 155th Separate Marine Brigade). Including T-80U/UE1/UK/UM2 which were only at 4th Guards Tank Division, and T-80BVM were in 4th, 64th and 200th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade. There were 40 units of T-80 (37%) destroyed or damaged and 68 units (63%) abandoned or captured. This can be explained by the high fuel consumption of the T-80 and the reluctance to fight.

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russia's T-80 stuck in mud / Open source photo

In fourth place in terms of losses were 76 tanks of unknown types (13% of lost tanks). 73 of them (96%) were destroyed and damaged, and 3 (4%) were abandoned and captured. Probably most of them were so damaged that it was impossible to determine the type.

In fifth place in terms of losses were 18 T-90A (3% of lost tanks). The units from Western Military District are equipped with them (2nd Guards Motor Rifle Division and 27th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade) and Southern Military District (19th, 20th and 136th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade). 27th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade also has T-90M and T-14, but these tanks haven’t been applied on the battlefield. 5 T-90A (28%) destroyed, 13 (72%) abandoned and captured. This can only be explained by the reluctance to fight.

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Captured enemy tank / Open source photo

In sixth place in terms of losses were 14 T-64BV (3% of lost tanks). The 1st and 2nd Army Corps of so-called DPR and LPR are equipped with them. 10 of them (71%) were destroyed and damaged, and 4 (29%) were captured. Obviously, their crews were trained better.

Overall, in the Armed Forces of russia, so-called DPR and LPR among 571 lost tanks, 307 (54%) were destroyed and damaged, and 264 (46%) were abandoned and captured. And here the conclusions which were made about the T-72B3/B3M tanks are quite the same (see above).

For comparison, the Armed Forces of Ukraine lost 139 tanks during the same period (57 destroyed, 1 damaged, 8 abandoned, 73 captured). So, the Armed Forces of Ukraine lost four times fewer tanks than the Armed Forces of russia, so-called DPR and LPR altogether. 58 (42%) of the 139 lost tanks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were destroyed and damaged, and 81 (58%) were abandoned and captured. 111 T-64s (107 T-64BV, 1 T-64B1M, 1 T-64BM, 1 T-64BM2), 16 T-72 (1 T-72, 2 T-72AB, 6 T-72B, 7 T-72AMT), 5 T-80BV and 8 tanks of unknown types were lost. It means, that only 10 modernized tanks (3 T-64B1M/BM-BM2 and 7 T-72AMT) or 7% were lost. This explains why 58% of Ukrainian tanks were abandoned and captured: most of them were obsolete, worn out and non-upgraded models.

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Captured russian tank / Open source photo

Wearing out and aging of the tank fleet of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is a big problem for them (as well as the insufficient number of tanks). Tanks are also needed in defense, but when the Armed Forces of Ukraine go on the offensive to liberate our occupied lands, they will need a lot of tanks (including infantry fighting vehicles), which would be more efficient than russia's.

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M113А3 IFV being loaded for Ukraine / Open source photo

European NATO countries have reduced their tank fleets, so only the United States can help. They have 2509 Abrams tanks (750 M1A1SA, 1605 M1A2 SEPv2, 154 M1A2C) and 2500 IFV/CRV M2A2/A3 Bradley. A significant part of them is in storage. US assistance with tanks and infantry fighting vehicles will be critical for Ukraine.

Yuriy BARASH, for Defense Express

Read more: Russia Found Unexpected "Enemy" For Its Defense Companies