When a Russian Regiment Ran Out Of Old T-72BA Tanks, It Reequipped With Even Older T-72Bs

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A T-72B pinch nan 488th Motor Rifle Regiment.

Via societal media

Another Russian regiment apparently has reequipped pinch older T-72 tanks. It’s further grounds that, contempt a heroic effort connected nan portion of Kremlin planners to grow accumulation of much modern vessel models, steep losses successful Ukraine proceed to resistance nan Russians into nan past, technologically speaking.

If there’s immoderate comfortableness to beryllium recovered successful nan Russian military’s tech regression, it’s that nan Ukrainian subject also is struggling to get nan astir modern tanks.

A photo from precocious October that circulated online this week depicts a Russian tanker, reportedly from nan 488th Motor Rifle Regiment successful eastbound Ukraine’s Luhansk Oblast, opinionated pinch a T-72B.

The T-72B is old. It first entered work successful 1985.

But we’ve seen T-72Bs successful action successful Ukraine before—so many, successful fact, that nan Russians person mislaid hundreds of them that independent analysts tin confirm. What’s notable astir nan 488th’s T-72Bs is what they must person replaced.

The 488th MRR was, until recently, 1 of astatine slightest 4 regiments and brigades that fielded nan T-72BA. An upgraded type of nan T-72B pinch an uprated motor and amended stabilization for its 125-millimeter, smoothbore main gun.

The T-72BA erstwhile was uncommon successful Russian service. As precocious arsenic 2016, Russian media described nan 46-ton, three-person T-72BA arsenic having “a proceedings nature.” Russia produced astir 700 T-72BAs but kept galore of them successful reserve, aliases successful storage, anterior to its wider warfare connected Ukraine.

The T-72BA isn’t a vessel anyone really wanted. It’s a humble upgrade of a T-72B that Russian tank-maker Uralvagonzavod primitively offered arsenic an replacement to nan much modern, and overmuch much expensive, T-90 starting successful nan precocious 1990s—a play of heavy economical turmoil successful Russia.

The T-72BA “was designed arsenic a consequence of Russia’s financial difficulties, which meant nan [ministry of defense] could nary longer spend to acquisition nan T-90,” nan U.S. Army explained. The BA was, successful different words, a stopgap.

But 25 years later, arsenic Russian vessel losses successful Ukraine transcend 2,000 and Uralvagonzavod struggles to boost accumulation of caller T-72B3s and T-90s, moreover nan stopgap T-72BAs are moving out. Observers done this summertime tallied astir 2 twelve mislaid and captured Russian T-72BAs. The actual number surely is overmuch higher.

After apparently losing galore of its T-72BAs, nan 488th MRR intelligibly needed replacement tanks. It’s telling that those replacements weren’t caller T-72B3s aliases T-90s. They seemingly were T-72Bs: nan astir 40-year-old tanks that Uralvagonzavod erstwhile stripped down and refitted successful bid to nutrient nan T-72BAs. The Kremlin had thousands of T-72Bs successful retention anterior to 2022.

The T-72B astatine slightest is an betterment complete nan moreover older T-72A and T-72 Ural. It has an up-armored turret, improved fire-controls and other stabilization for its main gun. An 840-horsepower diesel motor replaces nan older 780-horsepower engine.

But nan T-72B is simply a unspeakable night-fighter. Its 1K13-19 gunner’s show has a passive night-vision mode that doesn’t require an infrared spotlight, but it lacks range. To place targets retired to nan tank’s maximum engagement scope of astir 1,200 yards, astatine night, a T-72B unit must move connected its infrared spotlight and usage nan 1K13-19 show successful its progressive mode.

The problem, of course, is that immoderate force forces pinch their ain infrared sights tin spot nan spotlight, too—and pinpoint nan T-72B’s position.

As they added amended passive nighttime imagination to their ain T-64 and T-72 tanks and besides acquired Western-style tanks specified arsenic Leopard 2s, Challenger 2s and M-1s, nan Ukrainians began conducting much nighttime operations. Under nan screen of darkness, Ukrainian tankers person a large advantage complete Russian tankers.

The much T-72Bs nan Russians delegate to front-line regiments, nan greater nan Ukrainians’ separator successful a nighttime fight. Kyiv’s forces should clasp that separator moreover arsenic they induct astir 200 1980s-vintage Leopard 1A5 tanks from Germany, Denmark and The Netherlands.

A Leopard 1A5 is lightly-armored compared to a T-72B and its 105-millimter main weapon is smaller than a T-72B’s main weapon is. But acknowledgment to its modern EMES-18 fire-controls and high-end passive gunner’s sight, nan Leopard 1A5 shoots faster and much accurately than a T-72B does—especially astatine night.

In Ukraine, tanks seldom conflict tanks, of course. A Russian T-72B isn’t a bad vessel because it can’t conclusion an arsenic aged Ukrainian Leopard 1A5 successful a one-on-one fight. No, it’s bad vessel because it’s really only useful betwixt sunrise and sunset.

Which isn’t to opportunity nan 488th MRR and different Russian regiments won’t conflict their T-72Bs arsenic champion they can, erstwhile they can. Even nan Ukrainians have made use of nan dozens of Russian T-72Bs they person captured since nan aged tanks began appearing on nan beforehand successful greater numbers.

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