A Blog by Jonathan Low


May 26, 2022

Why Russia Is Sending 60 Year Old T-62 Tanks To Its Army In Ukraine

Battlefield losses against the Ukrainians appear to have exhausted Russia's inventory of modern tanks and sanctions have made it impossible to produce more. As a result, the Russian army is re-introducing the T-62, first fielded in 1961. 

Among the many logistics problems this creates (different ammunition and engines), the T-62 is especially vulnerable to anti-tank missiles. JL 

SofRep reports:

Amid massive tank losses in Ukraine, Putin is now deploying outdated Russian T-62 tanks, signaling that the Kremlin might have no modern tanks to send to Ukraine after their vehicles have been made into smoking heaps by the Ukrainians. T-62s were first introduced in 1961. They have different engines and use different main gun ammunition (which) means problems keeping them supplied and running. 90% of stored Russian tanks are non-functional and inoperable. By cannibalizing others, of the 2,000 units in storage they may be able to get 400 in working condition.

Amid massive tank losses in Ukraine, Putin is now deploying old and outdated Russian T-62 tanks, signaling that the Kremlin might have no modern tanks to send to Ukraine after their vehicles have been made into smokin heaps by the Ukrainians.

Putin is running out of options and time real fast. With no real goals achieved in Donbas thus far, they are running out of tanks and armored vehicles to complete their so-called “liberation” of Donbas. Deploying their T-62s, tanks that are largely relegated as reserves, it is obvious that Russia no longer has the capability to provide new, more modern tanks for its men.

The Ukrainian General Staff also announced the spotting of the old tank on the battlefield, stating that Russian troops had incurred the destruction of 6 tanks in just the past 24 hours, forcing them to use damaged military equipment to continue with their operation.

“As a result of combat losses, the enemy is forced to remove T-62 tanks from storage to equip backup battalion tactical groups, formed to send to Ukraine. In addition, damaged and recovered equipment is used to make up for the losses of arms and military equipment.”

“Over the past 24-hours, 11 enemy attacks have been repelled in the Donetsk and Luhansk directions, six tanks destroyed (as well as) ten units of combat armoured equipment and six units of (the) enemy’s vehicle equipment.”

These reports come after the Russians suffered an embarrassing defeat while trying to cross the Siverskyi Donets River located near the town of Bilohorivka while trying to encircle Ukrainian forces. Setting up pontoon bridges, the Russians apparently did not have air reconnaissance to warn them of Ukrainian troops nearby. They were utterly destroyed after heavy artillery rained on them while they were trying to cross the river. As a result, some 100 Russian vehicles were destroyed.

This prompted the recent deployment of Russia’s “Terminator” tank, as they’ve been spotted rolling with T-72s in Luhansk, possibly to provide cover and suppressive fire against enemy units.

Prior to this, Russia’s most modern active tank, the T-90M, were also spotted in Kharkiv and were subsequently destroyed – in fact, the unit was destroyed just days after being deployed. It was also the first recorded combat loss of a Russian T-90M. Embarrassingly, the Russians claimed that these T-90Ms were “top-notch” and were invulnerable to anti-tank guided missiles. Its selling point was “increased survivability” against these munitions as it was equipped with Shtora-1 active protection systems and Kontakt-5 armor.

Now, the Russians are coming out with the old guns. Don’t get us wrong, there are weapons that are old but still do the job, and maybe we’d give the T-62s a fighting chance in limited circumstances – just that evidence points to the fact that they’d likely become scrap iron too.

These T-62s were first introduced in 1961, featuring a new 115mm smoothbore tank gun that fires conventional rounds and APFSDS rounds, like those flechettes. It also used a 7.62mm PKT coaxial general-purpose machine gun and a 12.7 mm DShK 1938/46 anti-aircraft heavy machine gun as its second armament. It is operated by a 4-man crew. Non-surprisingly, these tanks have a thinner roof armor and a questionable ammunition storage area, and an even weirder fuel storage unit that is found attached outside of the tanks (with some fuel cells also found inside the hull) which means that Ukraine’s Armed Forces are going to have a literal blast blowing up these tanks with their western-supplied anti-tank and anti-armor weapons.

Needless to say, Russia is running out of tanks to throw into battle. Recent estimates show that Russia has some 2,900 units of T-72s, T-80s, and T-90s in active service, with 10,000 units of those in storage. There is no need to deploy T-62s if they had more of their modern tanks in service, so it’s clear that they do not have any options left. Some 2,000 T-64s are reported to be in Russia’s storage, with 2,500 T-62s and 2,800 T-55s in storage as well. It may be the case that they still do have modern tanks but are unable to service them due to corruption – staff taking out the equipment needed to service the tanks, perhaps selling it to make a quick ruble.

These T-62s are very different vehicles than the T-72s, T-82s and T-90s that eventually replaced them.  They have different engines, use different main gun ammunition.  This means a significant problem keeping them supplied and running in the field and no one can say the Russian army are masters in the art of logistics. It is also a tank from the 1970s with the technology of that era in terms of sighting system and communications.

The T-62 isn’t fast enough to keep up with Russia’s armored fighting vehicles and the cannon is traversed and elevated manually and too slow to track a moving target.

We suspect the Russians may intend to use these tanks in rear areas to do defence and fight against local militia in the occupied regions, but they would be slaughtered wholesale by Ukrainian artillery and ATGMS if committed to the front lines.

Intel claims that 90% of stored Russian tanks are non-functional and inoperable. This means that if they are not able to maintain modern tank units for battle, then what more for their older units which have not been serviced for years. Since the manufacturing of parts for T-62s was shut down decades ago, we imagine the Russians will be cannibalizing various tanks in storage to get one T-62 operational. So of the 2,000 units in storage we think they may only be able to get 400 of them in working condition.

Their main tank manufacturer Uralvagonzavod had to shut down operations last March due to a low supply of parts and foreign components, which means that they have few parts to spare to maintain existing tanks.  They were able to reopen briefly last week to claim in Russian news media that they were back to making tanks again delivering a “Batch” of new T-90 tanks to the Russian Army.  By our estimation, Uralvagonzavod needs to make “batches”of at least 25 tanks a day to replace Russian losses so far and we believe that is far beyond their means.  The production of tanks is a very complex supply line with lead times on parts that are measured in months and standing up a new assembly line is a major undertaking in terms of equipment and trained personnel.


Anonymous said...

Rusia is known for their disregard of the life of their service men. They field the old tanks to drain the Ukrainian arsenal

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