Russia-Ukraine War: Anti-Tank Weapons and Tactics

Hello defence lovers! It has been over a fortnight that the Russia-Ukraine war has been going on. We have already discussed what situations led to this conflict. Click the links below to read them. Armour including tanks, armoured personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles play a crucial role in these types of invasions. For the defenders, it becomes very difficult to hold their ground if they are fairly outnumbered in terms of armoured vehicles. So in this article, we are going to do an in-depth analysis of the anti-tank tactics and weapons used by Ukrainian forces to stop the advancing Russian Armour. We will also learn what lessons India can learn from these tactics.

Russian Armour Composition

Though Russia has one of the largest tank and other armoured vehicles fleet in the world, most of this equipment is still is of the Soviet era. Only a small fraction of the total numbers are operational. Russia has only a few hundred modern T-90 tanks, the rest of their entire fleet is obsolete T-72 tanks. Russian forces have BMP 3, BMP 2 and BMP 1 as their primary IFVs and different types of BTRs as their armoured personnel carriers. Russian reserves are huge. There are over 7000 T-72, 4000 T-80, 1500 BMP-2 and 7000 BMP-1 in reserve, but it is doubtful whether Russia will be able to call them back into the service before it’s too late.

Rasputitsa: The Greatest Enemy Of Russian Armour

Rasputitsa is a natural phenomenon in which the ground becomes muddy due to the melting of snow during this time of year. It is observed in Ukraine as well as in western Russia. Rasputitsa saved the Soviets during Operation Barbarosa in the second world war by disrupting Nazi supply lines. Now the exact same thing is happening to the invading Russian forces and their armour. The heavy vehicles which generally weigh over 50 tons are getting stuck in the soft muddy terrain. According to Russian doctrine, the Russian forces do not try to recover these vehicles and abandon them.

Thus taking the geography and natural phenomenon like Rasputitsa while planning such invasions is extremely important. One fine example of such excellent planning is the invasion of East Pakistan in 1971. The PMO had cleared the armed forces to launch an invasion in April 1971. But it was one of our greatest military leaders, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaws’ call not to invade in April but to wait until December. In April the ground becomes soft due to the monsoon and the movement of heavy vehicles become extremely difficult.

Javeline And Other Anti-Tank Guided Missiles

American Javelins have played a crucial role in the defence of Ukraine. According to NDTV’s report out of 300 initially supplied Javelins, 280 have hit their target and destroyed them completely giving Javelin a kill percentage of 93. Most of the Russian Tanks are extremely vulnerable against ATGMs which have top attack mode. Only some of the most advanced Active Protection Systems can protect against such missiles. Unfortunately, the obsolete T-72s are sitting ducks for these Javelin missiles.

In urban warfare, ambushing tanks with ATGMs is quite successful, at least it appears to be so from the ongoing conflict where Ukrainian forces have successfully ambushed and destroyed hundreds of armoured vehicles with their ATGMs.

Running Out Of Gas?

The Russian logistics have been very poorly planned. The Russian tanks deep inside the Ukrainian territory are running out of fuel. Moreover, the supply lines are getting attacked by guerilla fighters. There have been many instances when guerilla fighters have set entire fuel-supplying convoys on fire using Molotov cocktails. Interestingly Ukrainian civilians have stolen many Russian heavy vehicles using their tractors. The stiff resistance from the civilians and the poor logistics have made the invasion tougher for the Russian forces, especially the armour.

What Can We Learn From This Conflict?

Experts have warned that China can pursue similar attempts in Ladakh and in Taiwan. Although India is not Ukraine, the current invasion of Ukraine cannot be successful. When it comes to tank warfare. it has been proved from the ongoing conflict that ATGMs are equally important as the Tanks themselves. Fortunately, we have developed ATGMs indigenously which can attack in top attack mode.

The area of concern is that the Indian Army still uses over 2000 obsolete T-72 tanks. Though they have been upgraded, they are still extremely vulnerable against modern anti-tank weapons. Indian Army must equip its tanks with advanced Active Protection Systems with the hard-kill capability to enhance their protection against top attack ATGMs.

Click here to read

So this was our analysis on the Anti-tank weapons and tactics being used in Ukraine. Stay tuned for more such analyses.


Sheershoo Deb

I am a defense aspirant preparing to be an officer in the prestigious Indian armed forces. Earning the prestigious blue uniform is my dream.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Back to top button
Translate »