Biggest Upgrade In History? Russia To Reactivate 800 Cold War-Era T-62 Tanks Amid Depleting Arsenal

The Russian military intends to reactivate and upgrade some 800 Soviet-era T-62 tanks in the next three years to balance its significant losses in the ongoing Ukraine war.

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Andrey Gurulyov, a retired Russian general turned politician, who is currently a deputy of the lower house of Russia’s parliament, or Duma, said on his Telegram post on October 12 that he recently undertook a tour of the 103 Armored Repair Plant in the country’s Far Eastern Transbaikal Krai region.

The 103 Armored Repair Plant is a subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned conglomerate UralVagonZavod, the country’s leading tank manufacturer. Gurulyov also posted a video of his visit to the plant showing employees working on T-62s.

The decision to reactivate and upgrade a Cold War-era relic of a tank suggests that the Western sanctions are affecting Russia’s defense industry, as has been reported by several media reports since the start of the Ukraine conflict.

In March 2022, it was reported that UralVagonZavod was forced to shut down production due to a shortage of supplies.

The latest decision is evidence of massive tank losses suffered by the Russian military in Ukraine. So far, the Russian military has lost around 7000 tanks and other vehicles, according to the figures compiled by the military tracking blog Oryx based on visual confirmations.

Russia has already deployed T-62 tanks in Ukraine, as previously reported by EurAsian Times.

Soviet Era T-62 Tank 

T-62 is a further development of the T-55 series tanks that entered serial production in 1961 and lasted until 1973, and in between, an estimated 20,000 T-62s were manufactured.

The tank was designed to be a more mobile and maneuverable replacement for its bulkier and sluggish predecessors.

A Soviet T-62 – Twitter

The main armament of the T-62 is a 115 mm smoothbore gun that fires APFSDS, HEAT, and HE-FRAG rounds. Its maximum range of fire is up to four kilometers during the daytime and up to 800 meters during the night. The gun’s rate of fire is only four rounds per minute.

Notably, the T-62 can reportedly fire accurately while being mobile. A total of 40 rounds are carried for the main gun. The tank is also armed with a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun and a 12.7 mm machine gun mounted on top of the turret.

The tank is operated by a crew of four, including a commander, gunner, loader, and driver.

In the early 1980s, the Soviets began a modification program for the T-62 that included improved armor, a more powerful engine, and an upgraded fire control system.

Gurulyov said that the T-62s in question would be upgraded, including modern thermal and night vision optics, additional armor, and other protection measures, particularly for defense against anti-tank guided missiles such as the US-made Javelin.

File Image: T-62-Tank

The T-62s Have Seen A Lot Of Combat!

Gurulyov reportedly also said during his visit to the 103 Armored Repair Plant that the T-62s have fulfilled their role well in Ukraine; however, evidence from the front suggests otherwise.

Social media is flooded with several pictures and videos of destroyed T-62s. Also, Ukrainian forces have captured several of these tanks in working conditions, which have been abandoned by retreating Russian troops.

Nevertheless, reports suggest that while the T-62s are obsolete, they could still provide the Russian military with much-needed armored fire support assets for engaging lighter armored and unarmored vehicles, fortifications, and Ukrainian troops in the open.

While there are many variants and subvariants of the T-62 tank, the ones used by Russian forces in Ukraine appear to be the T-62M variants and their T-62MV versions, equipped with the Kontakt-1 explosive reactive armor (ERA) protection systems.

The T-62s have been deployed in various conflict zones so far. Before the Ukraine war, Russia sent many of these tanks to Syria in 2020 to help the Syrian Army compensate for its losses in the civil war.

Before that, the T-62s were employed by Russia in the war against Georgia in 2008 and also in the Chechen-Russian conflict in the 1990s. At the height of the cold war, the T-62s played a crucial role in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s.