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​Why russians Pulled Out Rare Ladoga Vehicle on T-80U Chassis, Originally Created for Nuclear War

Ladoga armored NBC-protected vehicle / Open-source illustrative photo
Ladoga armored NBC-protected vehicle / Open-source illustrative photo
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Such rare and peculiar vehicles, with increased crew capacity and NBC protection, used to be museum exhibits until recently

Video from the Ukrainian 63rd Mechanized Brigade shows an unusual tracked armored vehicle in use by russian invasion forces getting hit by an FPV drone. The vehicle was identified on social media as the Ladoga VTS based on chassis from the T-80U tank.

The time and place of events in the footage is unknown, originally it was published on March 21, 2024 by the 63rd Brigade. Anyway, the very possibility that the russian forces took a Ladoga from storage and decided to use it as a combat unit in the war against Ukraine appears extremely extraordinary.

Read more: ​Captured T-62 Tanks Have (Not) Found Their Place in Ukraine's Military

To begin with, let's take into account that not only the Ladoga but some other vehicles have a similar hull design, like the archaic BTR-50 or another rare piece, the BMR-3MA engineering vehicle. Still, the unit in the video does indeed have the characteristic features of the VTS Lagoda. Therefore, with high degree of probability, this was the first known episode of the combat deployment of this armored vehicle in history.

The acronym VTS stands for "highly-protected transport vehicle," and in essence, Ladoga is a command and reconnaissance vehicle with heavy armor in line with its original purpose: to be used in case a nuclear war breaks out. This highly specific purpose explains the fact only a total of four or five units were produced, even though the T-80U chassis is quite common and was available in sufficient quantities.

As the role suggests, Ladoga has special NBC equipment to protect its crew from weapons of mass destruction. The vehicle is operated by two personnel and it has enough room to accommodate an additional four people.

Ladoga armored NBC-protected vehicle / Defense Express / Why russians Pulled Out Rare Ladoga Vehicle on T-80U Chassis, Originally Created for Nuclear War
Ladoga armored NBC-protected vehicle / Open-source illustrative photo

Previously, Ladoga was seen used in practice only once: during the cleanup of consequences of the disaster at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. The vehicle proved to have a really high level of protection. During the Soviet Union collapse, all units were handed over to the russian army, where they were decommissioned in the early 1990s.

In fact, as of February 2022, the VTS Ladoga was considered as nothing but a museum exhibit, it was hard to imagine it ever reaching the battlefield at all. Defense Express assumes that russian invaders decided to use it as an ordinary armored vehicle. How effective its protection was against the FPV drone is hard to tell. The Ukrainian troops claim at least one of the tanks in the column featured in the video has burned down but the consequences of the strike on Ladoga aren't shown.

Ladoga armored NBC-protected vehicle / Defense Express / Why russians Pulled Out Rare Ladoga Vehicle on T-80U Chassis, Originally Created for Nuclear War
Ladoga armored NBC-protected vehicle / Open-source illustrative photo

On a reference note, this is not the first time russians pulled some rare armored vehicles, decommissioned for various reasons back in the 1990s or 2000s, out from long-term preservation and deployed them to fight against Ukraine. For example, we can recall the appearance of BTR-90 personnel carriers in their ranks, one of those vehicles was destroyed near Avdiivka. Another example is the BMD-3 which had never been seen in battle until October last year..

Read more: ​Ukrainian Military Destroy a Rare russian BTR-90 Rostok APC Near Avdiivka