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Explosions at russian Plants in Chelyabinsk and Smolensk: Are They Enough to Stop Production

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Aftermath of the explosion in Chelyabinsk / Open source photo
Aftermath of the explosion in Chelyabinsk / Open source photo

These two events are unlikely to be connected in any way but the blasts at ChTZ-Uraltrac and Smolensk Aviation Plant showcase how challenging it is to undermine the russian military industry

November 26 evening, various media reported explosions on the territory of russian industrial enterprises Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant–Uraltrac and Smolensk Aviation Plant. Although they seem to happen synchronically, these events are hardly related.

Specialized in both military and civilian equipment, the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant–Uraltrac is part of a bigger industrial machine, the Uralvagonzavod, the latter being the only serial producer of new tanks in the russian federation. The ChTZ-Uraltrac particularly provides tank engines.

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This factory makes engines for T-72 and T-90 main battle tanks, including the latest V-92S2 and V-92S2F engines, and spare parts for maintenance of the flagship products and their older versions.

Products of the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant
Products of the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant / Screengrab of the website, archive

The plant was rocked by a spectacular explosion on a transformer. Still, with backup power lines in place, it is unlikely to cause any major disruptions to the functioning of the massive facility.

To elaborate further, the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant–Uraltrac, is a huge enterprise with a perimeter of 2.5 by 0.7 km, located 1,700 km from Ukraine. Therefore, many more explosions need to occur to completely disable it, and the key point is that they must be methodical.

Territory of the plant in Chelyabinsk
Territory of the plant in Chelyabinsk / Satellite image credit: Google Earth

On the other hand, we see the method in the Ukrainian attacks on the Smolensk Aviation Plant, which is responsible for the assembly of Kh-59 cruise missiles: the first blow to this enterprise dates back to at least October 1st this year. The Defense Intelligence of Ukraine then reported that four attack drones had been launched, three of them had reached the target. Video from that time:

Another strike came on November 17, russian media were reporting one drone that was allegedly "suppressed by the electronic warfare" systems but still fell onto the factory, broke through the roof of a workshop, and exploded.

The attack on November 26, too, according to russian sources, was repelled: one UAV was shot down, and one more "jammed," yet apparently it managed to hit another workshop. Ukrainian intelligence confirmed to 24tv.ua that the "attack was effective," and brought the desired result.

Reportedly, the Smolensk Aviation Plant on fire after Ukrainian drone strike on November 26th
Reportedly, the Smolensk Aviation Plant on fire after Ukrainian drone strike on November 26th / Open source image

As we can see, in the case of the Smolensk Aviation Plant, the strikes are systematic. The minimum expected outcome is a hindered production at the factory. Moreover, the facility is much more compact and located much closer to Ukraine, only 300 km away.

With that in mind, even suicide drones with relatively small warheads can significantly slow down the work at this russian enterprise.

Smolensk Aviation Plant from above / Satellite image credit: Google Earth
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