TechUkraine claims major hits: Russian tank losses in focus

Ukraine claims major hits: Russian tank losses in focus

The wreckage of a Russian tank somewhere in Ukraine.
The wreckage of a Russian tank somewhere in Ukraine.
Images source: © Getty Images | SOPA Images
Przemysław Juraszek

21 June 2024 19:19

The Ukrainians boasted about destroying 8,000 Russian tanks since the beginning of the war. We present which constructions the Russians lost most frequently.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence claimed to have destroyed as many as 8,000 Russian tanks. This is a significant number, but it deviates from, for example, the 3,153 wrecks verified by photos or recordings catalogued by the group oryxspioenkop. The discrepancy arises because only part of the destruction of Russian equipment has been captured in recordings published online.

Meanwhile, the actual number of destroyed Russian tanks may be more than twice as high. Furthermore, even if Ukrainians inflate Russian losses for propaganda reasons, the number they provide is likely closer to reality than Russian data.

The Russian stock of modern tanks is a shadow of what it was before 2022

According to the report The Military Balance, the Russian armoured potential at the time of the invasion of Ukraine in 2022 included about 3,000 tanks and around 7,000 tanks of the T-72 family, with an additional 3,000 tanks held as part of the mobilisation reserve.

Due to the losses they are suffering in Ukraine, Russians are bringing armoured equipment back from storage en masse, as seen by the destroyed units. For example, according to Oryx's list Russians have lost at least 826 T-72B3 and B3M tanks, comprising most of the relatively modern Russian tanks on the front. Before the war, Russia had about 1,720 of these units in total.

The T-72B3 tanks are a light modernisation of Soviet-era T-72B tanks from 2011, where essentially only the modern Sosna-U fire control system with a French thermal imaging camera was applied. The autoloader was adapted to handle longer Svieniec shells. Additionally, during the rebuild, tanks had their consumable elements replaced with new ones, and the reactive armour was unified to Kontakt-5.

Greater changes were applied to the T-72B3M tanks produced since 2016. For example, the commander got a panoramic view, enabling the crew to operate in hunter-killer mode, where the commander can direct the gun to the target faster than the gunner's action based on his commands. Additionally, the tank received a new two-layer Relikt reactive armour. The Russians also lost at least 97 units of the latest T-90M tanks, of which, considering wartime production, they had over 100 units.

The current Russian armoured potential - turning into a historical reenactment of the USSR

The Russians began to patch up these machine losses quite quickly by refurbishing stored T-72B or older T-72A/AW units (visually confirmed 451 losses). However, it quickly turned out that the stored units might have been in poor technical condition or were looted for spare parts (T-72 family tanks are popular worldwide), because at some point there was a rapid increase in the presence and destruction of T-80BW tanks on the front, of which the Ukrainians ultimately destroyed at least 569 units.

Then, there were even instances of the Russians sending T-54/55 tanks, T-62 or the first T-72 Ural to the front. Many experts estimate that the Russian repair base inherited from the USSR will be exhausted by the end of 2025 or in 2026, which will no longer allow Russia to replace the losses quantitatively. For this reason, ensuring that arms supplies are sent to Ukraine for at least another two years is a key issue.

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