A recent photo of a destroyed Russian T-90S tank in Ukraine and most of Moscow’s armor losses indicate that the Ukrainian Army is destroying abandoned Russian tanks.
A retired Indian Army tankman has pointed out anomalies and inconsistencies in several videos of Russian armor being destroyed, particularly the ones where modified drones drop simple explosives on tanks.
Interestingly, the T-90S is the same version of the tank that the Indian Army uses and is without the Shtora Active Protection System (APS). The Indian government chose to buy the tank without it while inking the deal.
A tweet by leading Ukraine war tracker Special Kherson Cat (@bayraktar_1love) showed a T-90S from the front, with the barrel blown out and lying in front of the tank. India has rechristened the T-90S as the ‘Bhishma.’
The first destroyed Russian T-90S tank (T-90S "Bhishma"), which was originally intended for export to India, was reported.
P.S: Earlier in autumn footages of T-90S tanks intended for deployment to Ukraine already appeared in the internet. (Photo 2-3) pic.twitter.com/CGbj909Chz
— Special Kherson Cat ??? (@bayraktar_1love) January 4, 2023
In the same thread subsequently, one of the photos showed a severe hit to the engine. The hatches above the turret and the chassis where the driver sits are open, meaning the damage to the powerplant immobilized the tank, forcing the crew to escape.
The only conceivable scenario where the crew possibly does not have the time to escape is when the tank is pulverized with an artillery shell or a top-attack anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) hitting it from above.
In these cases, the metal body of the tank is entirely charred and changes color to greyish. And this is where a few oddities arise, according to Colonel Rajendra Bhaduri (retd).
Ukraine Destroying Abandoned Tanks?
“Most videos of quadcopters dropping bombs on tanks are when tanks are abandoned,” Bhaduri said. He concludes this because the hatches are open, and no crew is seen escaping when an explosive falls in. “Which crew would ride around in their tank during combat with the hatches open? It is an elementary mistake even a newly inducted crew will not make,” he said.
Moreover, commercially available civilian drones have no guidance systems and release unguided bombs, which are retrofitted with crudely made fins.
“Dropping these accurately through the small hatch in a moving tank is impossible, especially from a height. And if a drone/quadcopter does come close, the tank crew can shoot it down with small arms,” Bhaduri adds.
Neither are the small bombs alone capable of destroying a 50-ton-plus tank. “Some videos show a bomb failing to enter the hatch, rolling off, and falling on the engine. Assuming the bomb weighs five kilograms, the explosive charge would be even lighter. How can it destroy the tank engine by exploding above it? Thus, Ukraine destroys abandoned tanks as a publicity effort,” Bhaduri explains.
Russian Crews Escaping – Cowardice Or Practicality?
As for the crew escaping, it is an old tactic, especially during this war, where the majority of its tanks, armored vehicles, and trucks since the beginning have been noted to be abandoned. This seems to have two purposes.
One is the practicality of not fighting a losing battle and affording equipment losses, especially if your defense industry can manage to churn out and replenish the lost weapons.
The impact of sanctions on the Russian economy has been observed to be limited. Simultaneously, Russia has long been preparing to cut the use of many Western-sourced common electronic and mechanical components/sub-components in its weapons and aircraft.
On the other hand, Ukraine now has no functioning defense industry and is virtually fighting only on Western arms – concurrent with the stated Russian goal to “demilitarize” it.
The second purpose was revealed by President Vladimir Putin on March 8 last year, where he particularly emphasized that “conscripted soldiers” will not be used in the war but only professional soldiers fulfilling “fixed objectives.”
Thus, wanting to preserve professional soldiers implied Russia had long calculated that the war would stretch for more than six months and a fresh mobilization would cause upheaval in Russian society but a signal that Russia wished to escalate strategically.
The partial mobilization in September was only after Russia saw that neither the United States (US) nor the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) wished to negotiate and keep the war going by continuing to arm Ukraine.
Thus, strengthening its rears in the newly captured east and south, which Ukraine had successfully targeted by hitting Russia’s long supply lines, was a way of consolidating its gains.
The conscripts were intended to hold the rears to prevent Ukrainian ingresses from breaking through, while the frontlines manned by the professional military took the remaining areas.
It also came when Putin’s domestic ratings and approval were at their highest. The Russian economy was observed mainly to be resilient, as the sanctions failed to cripple it completely. It is a different matter that Putin himself later admitted several problems with the rapid and hasty mobilization of 300,000 reservists and volunteers.
Indian T-90 Is Just An Upgraded T-72
While the T-90A has Shtora, the new T-90MS has the Kontakt APS. Possibly to save expenses, the Indian government did not take the Shtora. “The APS is a key system that can protect a tank from incoming projectiles.
The upgraded engine caters to any weight it adds to the tank. An adversary will have to fire multiple rounds or anti-tank rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) to hit it by overwhelming the APS, thereby reducing the first-round hit probability.
Thus, without the Shtora, the Indian T-90S Bhishma is an upgraded T-72,” Bhaduri explained.