After losing half of his best tanks in the war, Putin dusts off Soviet-era models

T-54B modernized from T-54 M1951 (Conflict Intelligence Team)

Russia has lost about half of its best tanks in the year since it invaded Ukraine and is fighting to replace them, a major research center has revealed, as kyiv prepares to receive modern battle tanks from the West.

Russia has removed from storage tanks of the 1940s, according to new images from a monitoring group, the Conflict Intelligence Team, which shared images of the old tanks on a train.

According to the monitoring team, the images show T-54 tanks, which the Soviet Union began producing in 1947, on a train moving west from the far east of Russia. As the group reports, while Russia has used other older tanks in Ukraine, none have been as old as the T-54.

The T-54 was produced over a number of years, so it is not possible to know what exact year the pictured tank is from, and some of the photos may also be of its successor, the T-55.

russian tank
The black and white image corresponds to a T-55 being transported in 1985, while the other image may be a T-54 or a T-55, taken in 2023 (Conflict Intelligence Team)

According to this group, these tanks have a series of drawbacks that modern tanks do not have, such as rudimentary sights, lack of rangefinders, and poor weapon stabilization.

In its annual Military Balance report, a key reference tool for defense experts, the IISS said the loss rates of some of Russia’s most modern tank classes reached 50%, forcing a reliance on older models. old soviet era.

“They are not producing and reactivating enough to make up for those loss rates. Its current armored fleet at the front is about half the size it was at the start of the war,” he told the news agency. Reuters Henry BoydIISS researcher.

He calculated Russia’s tank losses between 2,000 and 2,300, and those of Ukraine up to 700.

Ukraine has secured promises of around 100 modern Western tanks, including the Abrams from the US, the German Leopard and the British Challenger, whose capabilities far exceed older Russian models.

Ukraine will receive modern tanks from the West (REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo)
Ukraine will receive modern tanks from the West (REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo) (Ints Kalnins/)

The United States plans to expedite the delivery of Abrams tanks to Ukraine, a Pentagon official said Tuesday, providing the vital equipment to kyiv as soon as this autumn to defend against Russian forces.

The new plan would give Ukraine the variant of the tank M1A1 SA Abrams, which can run on diesel fuel like most of the Ukrainian fleet, one of the officials said. The change also speeds up delivery by about a year, according to a congressional aide briefed on the matter.

The Pentagon “in close coordination with Ukraine has made the decision to provide the M1A1 variant of the Abrams tank which will allow us to significantly accelerate delivery times and deliver this important capability to Ukraine by the fall of this year,” the Pentagon spokesperson said, Brigadier General Patrick. Ryder told reporters.

“That may well translate into less aggressive and less safe (Russian) tank actions, as aircrews are more concerned with the level of threat presented to them,” Boyd said.

(With information from Reuters)

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