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Fight Leopard Tanks With T-62s: Russian Military Historian Suggests Deploying Old MBTs As Self-Propelled Artillery

In the face of significant armored losses suffered by Russian forces in Ukraine, a Russian military historian has recommended utilizing modernized T-62 tanks as self-propelled artillery.

The Russian forces are already deploying Soviet-era T-62 tanks to make up for equipment shortages on the battlefield. 

But, a Russian military historian has recently suggested that the best course of action for the Russian Armed Forces is to use T-62M tanks as self-propelled artillery.

Military Historian Yuri Knutov, director of the Museum of Air Defense Forces, claimed that this Soviet-era tank could fight Leopard 1 and Leopard 2 foreign tanks. 

Knutov argued that since tanks are now used as self-propelled artillery in special operations, their [T-62] involvement is generally justified. He also noted that this Soviet-era tank is equipped with a modern night and day sight and radio station.

Russia T-62 Tank
Russian T-62 Tank

Knutov explained that the T-62 tank features optical and communication support comparable to the T-72. These tanks can also be equipped with the latest dynamic protection sets, covering the armor with specialized tiles. 

“This dynamic protection in its characteristics allows you to protect the tank at the same level the T-90 is protected. Thus, the tank turns into a fairly powerful weapon,” he said.

Knutov claimed that the T-62M matches Leopard 1 and Leopard 2 produced by foreign countries in terms of both release time and combat capabilities.

Thus, the best approach, according to Knutov, would be to employ the T-62 as self-propelled artillery specifically created for engaging NATO armored vehicles in direct battles. 

Vijainder K. Thakur, a military analyst, also previously noted that these tanks might be deployed as tracked mobile artillery. 

“The use of modern T-90 tanks as mobile artillery is a waste. Fielding upgraded T-62M tanks as mobile artillery makes more sense. The T-62M will not be pitted against modern western tanks like Leopard-2,” Thakur had said then. 

The recommendation put forward by the Russian expert is particularly relevant as Ukraine has started receiving German Leopard and British Challenger tanks, which pose a significant threat to Russian forces on the frontlines.

The Russian military is getting ready to confront western-origin tanks on the battlefield. On March 17, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that the operators of Russian T-90M tanks are undergoing training to take down M1 Abrams, Leopard 2, and Challenger 2 tanks in Ukraine. 

Russia’s T-62 Tanks

The Russian military has already deployed a modernized variant of the T-62 tank, originally introduced during the initial phases of the Cold War.

The T-62 tanks were introduced to the Soviet Union’s military in 1961. It is believed that Moscow inherited hundreds of T-62M versions from the Soviet Union. 

During the 1980s, the Soviet Union upgraded thousands of these tanks with enhanced engines, better fire control systems, and additional defensive capabilities. This modernization resulted in various sub-variants, including those equipped with Kontakt-1 explosive reactive armor (ERA) and the first-generation Drozd active protection systems.

The Russian military has been utilizing a mix of T-62MV models equipped with Kontakt-1 ERA and T-62M variants in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The passive appliqué armor added to the turret of the T-62M variants helps to differentiate them from the others.

To enhance their protection against anti-tank missiles and anti-armor weaponry, some of these tanks have undergone a turret modification with cage-like armor. However, the additional defense it provides is only slightly better.

A Captured Russian T-62M (via OSINT Technical on Twitter)

Recently, it was reported that Russia had launched an extensive modernization initiative to enhance its armored capabilities in the ongoing Ukraine conflict. As part of this program, 800 T-62M and T-62MV tanks will be modernized and redeployed to the region to replace destroyed T-72, T-80, and T-90 tanks in Ukraine. 

Ukrainian troops have already taken hold of a number of the modernized T-62 tanks, restored them, and are presently employing them against Russia in the ongoing conflict.

Nevertheless, pulling out older tanks from storage and deploying them after upgrading has been perceived as an effort to compensate for the tanks obliterated in the battle and sustain the ongoing offensive.

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