It is one of the weak points of the army russo. Since the beginning of the invasion, Mosca lost an enormous amount of armored vehicles and military equipment, thus revealing an unexpected weakness in conducting a guerra modern against theUkraine. The causes, analysts explain, are due to the irreducible Ukrainian resistance but also to the influx of sophisticated defense weapons by the Nato. As well as unexpected help for the president’s men Volodymyr Zelensky.
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Experts say the images of the battlefield show that Russian tanks suffer from a defect that the Western military has known for decades and which they call the “jack-in-the-box effect”. Moscow, they say, should have long since identified and solved the problem, but it has not and this is costing dearly in terms of casualties in Russian troops.
Ukraine is becoming a “tank cemetery”. The videos that shoot the streets around Kiev, Kharkiv and Mariupol show long columns of destroyed or abandoned Russian vehicles, covered in snow and with the bodies of dead soldiers still on board. It is estimated that since the beginning of the war the Ukrainians have destroyed between 580 and 750 tanks, obviously there are no official figures, however these are orders of magnitude. How did Zelensy’s forces put so many out of use? The main weapon is the Javelin anti-tank missiles and the Nlaw missile system, of which the London government is a major supplier. “We will continue to give our support to ensure that Ukraine is never again invaded,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson, hinting that the military alliance will continue even after the ceasefire. Furthermore, the Russian military faces thorny logistical problems that it has probably underestimated. “We have seen images of Russian tanks being dragged away by Ukrainian farmers’ tractors. Many tanks were abandoned because they ran out of fuel. Still others got stuck in the mud because the high command invaded at the wrong time of year. These were real logistical failures, ”says Philips O’Brien, a professor at St. Paul’s University.
But Moscow’s technical difficulties go further and also concern the way in which tank ammunition is stored. Unlike modern Western vehicles, the Russian ones carry more bullets inside their turrets. This makes them highly vulnerable as even an indirect hit can trigger a chain reaction that detonates their entire ammo block. The resulting shock wave can be enough to disintegrate the tank turret projecting it up to the second pine of a building, episodes taken from some videos on social networks. “We are in the presence of a design flaw,” explains Sam Bendett, consultant of the Russian studies program at the Center for a New American security in an article by CNN. “Any hit that hits the target acts as a trigger for the ammunition, causing a massive explosion. The turret is literally blown up ». For the tank crew, usually two men in the turret and a third at the helm, there is no escape: “If you don’t get out in a second, you’re dead,” adds Nicholas Drummond, defense analyst specializing in warfare. land and former British Army officer.
Drummond says the ammunition blast is causing problems for almost all of the armored vehicles that Russia uses in Ukraine. Yet, he explains to CNN, this criticality has been evident for decades: the Western armed forces have been aware of it from the Gulf wars against Iraq in 1991 and 2003, when a large number of Russian-made T-72 tanks of the Iraqi army suffered the same fate, with the turrets being blown up. For experts, in short, Russia has not learned its lesson from Iraq and as a result many of its tanks in Ukraine have similar design flaws, with self-loading missile systems. When the T-90 series – the successor to the T-72 – entered service in 1992, its armor was updated but the missile loading system remained similar to that of its predecessor, leaving it just as vulnerable, Drummond points out. The T-80, another Russian tank used in the invasion of Ukraine, has a nearly identical missile loading system. This system, however, has some advantages. Bendett notes that Russia chose it to save space and give the tanks a lower profile, thus making them more difficult to hit in battle. Strength, however, thwarted by experience. “Western armies learned from the Gulf War to spot vehicles and made it a priority to compartmentalize ammunition,” says Drummond. As on the Stryker infantry fighting vehicles developed by the US military after the first Iraq war. “It has a turret on top separate from the crew compartment. All the ammunition is inside the turret and if it gets hit and detonated, the crew is safe underneath. ‘ Other Western tanks, such as the M1 Abrams used by the United States and some allied armies, are larger: a fourth crew member in the tank retrieves the bullets from a sealed compartment and transfers them to fire. The compartment has a door that is opened and closed between shots fired from the tank, if it were hit it would explode a single shot in the turret. “If it’s accurate it can damage the tank, but not necessarily kill the crew,” concludes Bendett.