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How Often Tank Maintenance Is Required to Perform And Why It Should Be Taken Into Account

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Engine replacement for Leopard 2 / Credits: Bundeswehr
Engine replacement for Leopard 2 / Credits: Bundeswehr

The maintenance intervals of tanks can be confusing to the untrained eye, but it is of great importance for understanding how military equipment works in general

Talking about tanks, the aspects of repair, its organization and importance are frequently involved. Based on a number of comments from our readers, this really needs more coverage. In the case of tanks and other armored vehicles and weapons in general, trying to find analogies with civilian vehicles maintenance is not suitable.

And all comparisons like "cars that drive half a million kilometers without major repairs" are actually broken by reality. In particular, giving an example regarding the T-72 tank repairs. These data are public and do not constitute any secret, besides, russia knows exactly what resources their main battle tanks have.

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How Often Tank Maintenance Is Necessary And Why It Should Be Taken Into Account, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
The T-72AV, approximately 2017 or 2018 / Illustrative photo from open sources

According to the T-72 regulations, the new tank needs an average repair after 8,000 km of mileage. At the same time, not only the mileage itself is taken into account, but also the total time of operation of the machine. The formula is 1 hour of work equals 15 km. The fact is that tanks that are not equipped with an independent power unit for operation must keep the engine running, which not only consumes fuel, but also wastes its motor resource.

The average tank maintenance involves the restoration or replacement of units and aggregates, its duration is 800 man-hours according to the standard, or no more than 45 days. According to Soviet wartime norms, the average repair takes place in stricter terms: 450 man-hours or up to 30 days. The task of average repair is to restore the resource of the machine by 40-60%. Medium repairs are carried out directly in the troops.

How Often Tank Maintenance Is Necessary And Why It Should Be Taken Into Account, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
Repair of a tank, 2018 / Photo credits: 93rd Mechanized Brigade

Next comes overhaul, and for the T-72 it is marked at the level of 14,000 km. That is, after 8,000 km from the average repair. Its implementation means restoring the machine's resource to the level of 90-95% and requires replacement or restoration of all nodes and aggregates.

Overhaul is already carried out at special tank repair plants and requires not only the appropriate equipment of the enterprise, but also the presence of well-established supply chains of everything necessary for the restoration of the machine, which means the coordinated work of all sub-contractors. The standard duration is 1,500 man-hours.

How Often Tank Maintenance Is Necessary And Why It Should Be Taken Into Account, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
The T-72AMT in 2020 / Credits: the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

If the T-72 has already been overhauled, the inter-repair resources of medium and major repairs are reduced to 7,000 km before the average repair and 12,000 km before the overhaul (after 5,000 km from the average).

In addition to these kinds of repairs, the tank is scheduled to carry out routine repairs, which should generally be done by the crew itself and the repair and restoration unit. And this is not to mention the obligatory, according to the instructions, daily maintenance lasting 1-1.5 hours.

Also, individual main nodes and units of the machine have a much smaller resource and are replaced directly by the crew. For example, the resource of the engine of the T-72 tank, if we talk about its "inflated" version of the B-92 for the T-72B3, it is 1200 hours. And this is a "passport" indicator for a new engine without taking into account any breakdowns and unreliability. This is exactly the time after which the engine must be removed and replaced as a whole.

On Soviet machines, this procedure practically takes all day, if everything went without significant problems. Of course, during "master classes", especially during a demonstration for potential buyers, it is possible to spend even a few hours, but practice in the military speaks of much longer terms and special "satisfaction" from this procedure.

Moreover, all of the above are the regulations for the routine operation of the machines in peacetime, when the tank is used in training and firing at the shooting range. During hostilities, a tank on the battlefield is not only firepower, but a target that the enemy begins to fire at with all available means. And that is why the question of repairing the tank is somewhat more difficult than going to the car service station once a year.

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