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Russian Tanks 2022: Thicker and Blinder

 Since the all out invasion of Ukraine the Russian army has lost at least 1700 tanks. This has caused the Russian army some supply problems, when they are re-forming their mauled units. Fighting has also revealed the need for upgrades on most of the Russian tank designs. The most obvious issues with the existing Russian tank fleet are the insufficient armor protection, the lack of reverse mobility and the vulnerability of the automatic loaders and their ammunition carousels. Although the last one has gifted us the sport of Turret Throwing.


T-72B obr 2022 tanks

Very little can be done for the mobility with the limitations of the existing transmissions and the autoloaders can’t really be replaced with better designs or human loaders either. The armor part on the other hand can be improved during the activation and refurbishment of the deep stored Soviet-era tanks.


The first new design that appeared in the battlefield was an upgraded T-72B3 with additional armo,r mimicking the T-90M layout, installed to the skirts and turret sides. It’s called the T-72B3 obr 2022. This model retains the top of the Russian line Sosna-U optic and the cross wind sensor mounted at the rear of the turret. The deliveries of the T-72B3 obr 2022 lasted until the fall, but apparently the western sanctions started to hurt even the Russian tank industry. The more advanced Sosna-U optic is manufactured in Belarus, so any large scale upheaval there could degrade the supply even more.


T-72B3 obr 2022


The production line modernizing the existing stock of the T-72B and T-72BA tanks into the T-72B3 obr 2022 standard shifted their production into a new downgraded variant with a newer, but much less capable 1PN96MT-2 thermal sight with a laser range finder. The design also adds two additional rows of explosive reactive armor (ERA) to the lower glacis plate of the tank. These tanks also lack the cross wind sensor so they are easy to identify when compared to the T-72B3 variants. There is no official name for the modification and some Russian crews call them T-72B3M like all post obr 2016 versions. The best name at the moment is the T-72B obr 2022.


Similar downgrade on optics has also appeared in the T-80BVM tanks coming to service in the last quarter of 2022. These 1PN96MT-2 equipped tanks can be called T-80BVM obr 2022.


The obsolescent T-62M tanks are being modified into a new T-62M obr 2021 standard that includes upgraded radios, on at least on some of the tanks 1PN96MT-2 sights and Kontakt-1 ERA tiles. They keep their existing turret side steel spaced applique armors that distinguish them clearly from the T-62MV tanks that also have Kontakt-1 ERA.


T-62M obr 2021

In addition to these tanks, the Russian industry is also producing the T-90M tank that hasn’t received any downgrades, but instead the late examples sport a slightly improved ERA layout on the turret.


Russian industry is still capable of producing and upgrading reasonably capable tanks in large numbers. These tanks can be used both to refill the depleted tank units and to form new ones with the help of the significant mobilized manpower at the disposal of the Russian general staff. The war in Ukraine will not end due to Russian attrition anytime soon.


For further information about the Russian tanks variants there is the Vantage Point North Identification guide.


PS. These awesome 1st Annual Turret Throwing patches are available from milspec.fi and part of the revenue goes to helping Finnish volunteers fighting for Ukraine. This was an unpaid advert for a good cause, I bought these patches too!




-Petri Mäkelä



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