The State of Russian Army — Back to the USSR

In last days I saw three articles on BMPD (a Russian CAST military “think-tank”) Telegram channel:

T-62 main battle tank (entered service in 1961)

Let’s start with the first article. T-62 is a second post-WWII generation MBT. It succeeded the first past-war generation T-54/55. In turn, it was followed by the third generation T-64 and T-72, which were followed by the fourth generation T-80/T-90. The latest Russian MBT is a fifth generation T-14 Armata.

(From my memory alone, without checking sources:) Following the collapse of the USSR, Russia has been left with about 30,000 MBT’s, about 10,000 of which were from the later Cold War era: T-72, T-80 and T-90. Each one of those have a number of modifications. For example, Before the SMO, only the most recent modifications of those were considered as modern and more or less equal to the latest Western main battle tanks. Only the newest, and practically speaking, still experimental T-14 Armata is supposed to be better than the latest Western modifications of tanks.

So, theoretically speaking, at the start of the SMO, Russia had the largest tank force (not including obsolete tanks of the post-WWII generations) in the world. Even if most of those were of the 70’s and 80’s vintage, i.e. 40-50 years old, this is a very large reserve of tanks which can be upgraded using the existing upgrade programs into modern modifications, capable of fighting efficiently with the bulk of western M1 Abrams and Leopard-2.

Instead, for some unknown reason, it was decided to create a new modernization program in order to upgrade almost a thousand of the desperately obsolete T-62’s…

Basic T-62’s have much lower specs than T-72, and especially T-80 and T-90 tanks. No matter how much passive or reactive armor you add, they won’t come close to the upgraded T-72 and T-80. They also have much weaker engines, a much less potent gun and ammunition, and much more primitive target detection and fire control units.

The article states that some additional armor will be installed. It also says a new, thermal imaging system will be provided. Well, the thermal systems are a costly and hard to get component, which would be better used in modernizing the T-72’s or later tanks. And the additional armor, as I’ve said previously, won’t get its protection level to that of the modernized T-72.

If so, what can be the reasons for arming the newly mobilized with this old junk, exploding 4 of them each time and RPG or ATGM reaches the ammo storage? (And by the way, starting with the T-64 and T-72, Soviet tanks have only 3 crew members, thanks to the automatic gun loader.) Obviously, those tanks are intended for the Russian Army, and not for export.

I can think of a few different reasons, each one of them worse that the previous:

  1. there are not enough T-72’s left in good enough condition to restore and modernize;
  2. there is not enough competency remained in Russia to restore quickly a large number of 50 years old tanks — only the much more primitive models of the second past-was generation are simple enough to be restored and put into service;
  3. the current Russian military industrial complex cannot produce enough 125-mm ammunition for the T-72/80/90, instead large Soviet stocks of 115-mm tank gun ammunition will be used.
  4. The field repair units are not able to repair and maintain a large number of more modern tanks due to the higher than usual losses and maintenance needs in a time of war.
  5. It is much simpler to train new tank crews for the Gagarin-first-human-in-space era tanks that for the Mir-space-station era tanks.

Whatever the reasons might be, this is beyond ridiculous. It’s crosses the enemy-of-the-state line, for the ones that brought the situation to this point.

The SSh-40/60 steel helmets (entered service in 40’s/60’s)

If the 70’s tanks could be considered as too much high-tech for the current Russian MoD managed MIC, the most basic protective equipment of every infantryman cannot. Yet, for some unfathomable reason, the Army is now “upgrading” the WWII and post-WWII era steel helmets, in order to equip the mobilized. So not only a middle-aged office worker with health problems and no military experience would be sent into battle after shooting a few rounds from his corroded AK, he would be also put in a Gagarin era tank and protected by a WWII era helmet. (Firing squads don’t sound so ridiculous anymore, right, Jacob?)

This is from an article in a Kalashnikov journal. The author ends this report like this:

Очевидно, что появление такого «эрзаца» на головах мобилизуемых обусловлено исключительно некомпетентностью соответствующих служб МО РФ, оказавшихся не готовыми к масштабу боевых действий, развернувшихся на территории Украины в ходе Специальной военной операции.

It is obvious, that the appearance of such ersatz good on the mobilized men heads is exclusively a result of the incompetence of the appropriate Russian MoD services [i.e. branches], who turned out to be unprepared for the scope of the combat action, unfolded on the territory of Ukraine during the Special Military Operation.

Modernized BMP-1 (entered service in 1966)

This is a least outrageous new between the three. A “new” combat reconnaissance vehicle BRM-2AM is entering service. It is produced by replacing the old 73-mm low ballistics gun turret with a new, unmanned turret armed with 30-mm A-72 autocannon and 7.62 machinegun.

The BMP-1 is a very good platform for second echelon or internal troops. It has somewhat adequate ballistic protection and a very good mobility. A new turret is also quite adequate, especially for the lower intensity situations.

The problem here is that not only the now almost decade old last generation infantry combat vehicles (IFV) and armor personnel carriers (APC) are still have not entered combat service, but that the Soviet era BMP-3 are still, 30+ years later, aren’t present enough in the Russian Army. Instead, a 60’s era IFV’s are being upgraded in order to equip Russian troops.

***

If there is a hell, its worst parts should be reserved for the corrupt officials, who betray future of their own country and the well-being of their own people in order to squeeze a bit more enjoyment from their short life on this planet. But ordinary people shouldn’t rely on divine judgment to avenge their griefs. It takes too long, and more evils will be done in the meantime.

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