A Blog by Jonathan Low

 

May 26, 2023

Ukraine's Challenger Tanks Already Yanking Russian "Dragons' Teeth" Defenses

An exceptionally well-engineered British tank now in the service of Ukraine pushed aside with ease dragons' teeth concrete barriers erected by the Russians to stop Ukraine's counteroffensive. 

Among the problems with the Russian defenses, in addition to a paucity of troops to man them, is that the defenses were built with customary Russian attention to detail, meaning that the work is sloppy and, in many cases, the dragons teeth were plopped on the ground rather than being dug in with concrete foundations as they were supposed to have been, thus making them easy to remove for the powerful and well-designed British tanks. JL 

Giulia Carbonaro reports in Newsweek:

Ukraine's Ministry of Defense has mocked the "dragon teeth" defensive barricades erected by Russian forces in occupied areas of Ukraine, that they might not stand against its Challenger 2 tanks. Footage of a Challenger 2 tank plowing through the ground at an unspecified location in Ukraine and dragging the "dragon teeth" along its path, Ukraine tweeted on Thursday: "Challenger 2: If there is such a thing as 'dragon teeth,' there must be a 'dragon dentist.'" The tank can be seen removing some dragon teeth and dragging them along for a few meters at the rhythm of AC DC's song "Highway to Hell."

Ukraine's Ministry of Defense has mocked the "dragon teeth" defensive barricades erected by Russian forces in occupied areas of Ukraine, suggesting that they might not stand against its Challenger 2 tanks.

The Challenger 2 tank in Ukraine's possession is the U.K.'s main battle tank—a well-tested machine introduced by the British in 1994 and designed to replace the Challenger 1. Its main purpose is to destroy other tanks.

Sharing footage of a Challenger 2 tank plowing through the ground at an unspecified location in Ukraine and dragging the "dragon teeth" along its path, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense tweeted on Thursday: "Challenger 2: If there is such a thing as 'dragon teeth,' there must be a 'dragon dentist.'"


In the clip, the tank can be seen removing some dragon teeth and dragging them along for a few meters at the rhythm of AC DC's song "Highway to Hell."

"Dragon teeth" are pyramidal anti-tank obstacles made of reinforced concrete which have been used to impede the movement of tanks and mechanized infantry since World War II. They look like massive teeth sticking out of the ground, exactly as their name suggests.

An aerial image recorded by Capella Space, an American space company, and shared by Reuters at the end of April, shows that Russian forces have installed the "dragon teeth" along other fortifications—like anti-tank ditches and troop-manned trenches—built from western Russia through eastern Ukraine and on to Crimea.

But Ukraine appears defiant in the face of Russia's defenses, as shown by the mocking video shared on Twitter this week.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised a squadron—14 vehicles—of Challenger 2 tanks to Kyiv back in January, an announcement which was quickly followed by the training of Ukrainian troops in the U.K.

The tanks were reportedly delivered to Ukraine in late March, and are expected to be used as part of Ukraine's counteroffensive against Russia, which is believed to be in the works.

In an interview with Japanese broadcaster NHK earlier this week, the head of Ukraine's Main Directorate of Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, said that the country's counteroffensive "will start soon."

 

"We already have minimum weapons and other equipment stocks in place. I can only say that it will start soon," he said on Tuesday.According to recent satellite imagery of the warzone in Ukraine, Russian forces have been scattering "dragon teeth" across some of the areas of the country which they have come to occupy during the past year in anticipation of what's been rumored to be an imminent Ukrainian counteroffensive.

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