The first documented loss of a British-made FV103 Spartan armored personnel carrier (APC) was reported near Bakhmut between April 14 and 15, based on multiple videos that emerged on social media.
The Spartans were produced for the British Army between the 1960s and 70s, and based on reports since last year, nearly 100 have been procured for Ukraine in two major crowdfunding efforts.
The latest was a batch of 25 such vehicles acquired under the Unite With Ukraine platform that arrived on March 9, according to the semi-official Ukraine Military website. These included 12 Spartan FV103; 7 432 APCs; two 434 APCs; one Spartan SPA8; one Spartan SPA017, and two FV104 Samaritan ambulances.
Bakhmut meanwhile witnesses Ukrainian troops pulling back from some parts in the face of a determined Russian offensive, Reuters quoted British officials in a recent report. “Moscow (is) pressing to achieve a victory before Ukraine’s expected counteroffensive,” the report added.
According to Ukrainian officials, Russia has been drawing troops from other areas on the front for a major push on Bakhmut, which it has been trying to capture for nine months. The fall of the city of Donetsk will complete Russia’s aim of completely capturing the pro-Russian regions of eastern and southern Ukraine.
Spartans Procured Through Crowdfunding
“As far as I know, this is the largest simultaneous shipment of armored and tracked evacuation vehicles by an international non-governmental organization since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine,” said Unite With Ukraine’s director, Andriy Potichnyj.
The report added that the Ukrainian World Congress is planning to purchase 25 more such vehicles.
In November 2022, another famous crowdfunding initiative led by the Serhiy Prytula Foundation raised $6.5 million in 36 hours for around 50 Spartans, according to The Guardian.
The units were barely used as they had been driven for less than 16,000 kilometers (10,000 miles) and were lying in secret warehouses in the United Kingdom.
Whether the one destroyed was from the purchase made by the Serhiy Prytula Foundation or by United With Ukraine is unknown, but it certainly marks an intensifying battle for Bakhmut that many say will decide the outcome of the war.
Ukraine first began using the Spartans in June-July last year, where 35 were donated by the British government as an immediate measure.
What the Videos Show
Videos on Twitter showed a Ukrainian MT-LB in the foreground and a Spartan in the background, both burning intensely and completely charred.
Whether they came under Russian artillery fire, anti-tank missiles released by ground troops, aerial raids by Mi-28, Ka-52 Alligator gunships, or Su-25 Grach ground attack aircraft or fire from tanks like the T-90 is unknown.
— EurAsian Times (@THEEURASIATIMES) April 15, 2023
But based on the fire emanating from the MT-LB’s hatch and the surrounding destruction to civilian infrastructure, artillery fire or an aerial attack remains the most likely possibility.
It also appears that Ukraine has used its inventory of Spartans very sparingly since last year, especially the 35 The Guardian said were in service since June 2022. This means it had calculated that the war would drag on until the next year and pressed them into service only until the most critical time.
However, whether any vehicles of the Spartan family were destroyed previously but were not captured on camera or if this is simply the first kill on video could also not be verified.
Based on the fact that nearly all social media posts termed the video as the “first documented loss” implies the type of armored vehicle has not been a victim of Russian fire before.
Multipurpose Armored Vehicle Family
Ukrainian Territorial Defense Force (TDF) command officer Oleksander Muzyka was quoted in Military Ukraine report that “these vehicles are extremely important since they make it possible to perform not only operational tasks but also the functions of medical evacuation.”
Maksym Kostersky, the transportation-direction coordinator at the Prytula Foundation, had explained how the tracked system allows it to move around in “bad weather conditions because we have rain almost every day right now during the autumn season.”
“It’s going to start snowing soon, and the Spartans will be very good on the front line in the south of the country and especially in Donbas, where the heaviest fighting is going on right now,” Kostetsky told The Guardian in November last year.
The small and lightly armored vehicle has a low silhouette, which becomes key in clandestine reconnaissance on the frontline. This F107 Scimitar light tank/reconnaissance serves this purpose.
The F104 Samaritan is used for medical evacuation, the F105 Sultan command and staff variant for tactical command and control, and the F102 Striker as an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) carrier.