Russian soldiers, traveling on all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and armed with anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), attacked a group of Ukrainian soldiers, as per a video released by the Russian Ministry of Defense (RuMoD).
The system can be considered part of the larger set of measures that Russia has introduced over the last few months in anticipation of Western Challenger 2 (United Kingdom), Leopards (Germany), and M1A2 (United States) main battle tanks slated to enter the battlefield.
However, the Russian leadership is not banking on the outcome as it has seen the level of diplomatic determination to keep arming Ukraine by US and NATO allies. This would translate into the war possibly dragging on.
A mobile anti-tank reserve of Russian Airborne Troops on ATVs destroys a concentration of enemy manpower using Fagot ATGMs. #UkraineWar #RussianArmy #NATO #UkraineFrontLines pic.twitter.com/N2tfMK6HW6
— EurAsian Times (@THEEURASIATIMES) April 23, 2023
Video Shows Ukrainian Squad Being Blown Up
The dramatic video by the RuMoD shows a pair of soldiers handling two Fagot ATGMs on the rear carrier hold of the ATV. To prepare a firing position, one of the soldiers removes the rear seat to allow the ATGM, which is now mounted on a stand, to traverse.
Four different shots then capture the missile being fired, and a thermal view then shows it gradually traveling toward a group of 12 to 15 Ukrainian soldiers.
Seconds before the impact, the group starts rapidly dispersing, implying they have spotted the ATGM headed toward them. But before they could spread out safely, the missile struck the center of the grouping in a massive explosion.
The moving dots on the thermal view are the Ukrainian soldiers. It can therefore be safely assumed that they were the several objects seen thrown away tens of feet from the explosion, indicating the sheer explosive power of the warhead.
The 9K111M Fagot-M is a further improved version of the Soviet-era 9K111 ATGM. The launcher unit has a thermal sight and can be used at night. The improved 9M111M missile has a range of 2,500 meters (2.5 kilometers), while its high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead penetrates 460-500 mm of steel armor.
The Russian military, however, had not intended the Fagot-armed ATV teams for anti-personnel roles. A statement accompanying the video called them a “mobile anti-tank reserve of Russian Airborne Troops on ATVs destroying a concentration of enemy manpower.”
This means that the team must have doubled up as anti-personnel missileers after receiving information about the presence of the Ukrainian soldiers.
“The airborne mobile anti-tank reserve, having been tasked to destroy an accumulation of AFU infantry, swiftly moved into the area to survey and destroy the targets,” the statement added. Such spontaneous “tasking” can only occur upon detection by aerial surveillance, which includes drones or ground reconnaissance.
Attacks by Lancet-3 kamikaze drones (loitering munitions) would have taken some time to prepare the UAV where its wings need to be unfolded, and it has to be installed on a catapult launcher.
Far easier and more convenient than artillery strikes, ATV-mounted ATGMs are still faster. But the firing team needs to quickly egress from the area after the attack since they have to be relatively closer to the target.
Loitering munitions can be launched from farther away but are detected faster than ATGMs. ATGM teams, on the other hand, while vulnerable given the absolute absence of protection, are also fast, nimble and mobile because of the ATV, while the soldiers themselves are also armed.
The MoD statement that validates this assessment adds further, “The paratroopers make raids and get close to enemy positions. Upon arrival in the targeted area, using thermal imaging equipment, airborne reconnaissance personnel detected an accumulation of Ukrainian forces. The crew uses the Fagot ATGM to engage the enemy.”
It describes the crew as “disappearing as quickly as it appeared in the firing line” after the “enemy has been eliminated,” in a tactic it describes as a “roving firing point.” “This is a job for confident professionals, as the ATV has no protection against bullets or shrapnel.
Armour would make the vehicle heavier and deprive the crew of maneuverability,” said the statement.
It would be interesting to see how the system performs if and when the war lengthens to the point where Western and Russian tanks clash in Ukraine. With the upgraded T-90M Provy MBT, the ‘M’ variant of the Ka-52 (Ka-52M) and the Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled Marker unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), the ATV teams are the fourth such step Russia has introduced in to counter Western tanks.