The Ukrainian Army has found an interesting way to deploy its ancient Cold War-era T-62 Main Battle Tanks captured from the Russian Army. They are converting these MBTs into engineering vehicles.
The Ukrainians are converting their captured T-62 tanks into armored recovery vehicles (ARVs), intended to follow main battle tanks (MBTs) into battle. When these MBTs are rendered inoperational, either because of enemy fire or the vehicle getting stuck in marshy areas, the ARV will be used to pull them to safety.
Outfitted with dozer blades and other equipment, these ARVs can assist other engineering tanks in preparing fortifications, repairing damaged vehicles, etc.
However, what sense does it make for Ukraine to convert MBTs into unarmed recovery vehicles at a time when it lacks sufficient combat capability on the ground against the Russian Army and for months has been lobbying the west for the supply of tanks?
Why Convert Main Battle Tanks
Thanks to their tough armor, tanks tend to get damaged rather than destroyed. Therefore a pitched battle between armored forces usually ends up with damaged and recoverable tanks spread around the battleground, which the Army could collect with the most responsive ARVs.
Therefore, converting the vintage T-62 into an ARV is a brilliant idea because the T-62 tank is primarily a museum piece with its outdated optics and 115-millimeter main gun, which is ineffective against modern tanks and missile-armed infantry.
Also, Ukraine’s T-64, T-72, and T-80 tanks have the same basic armament, including the 125-millimeter main gun with 12.7-millimeter machine guns as secondary armament. T-62’s 115-millimeter main gun is sort of a problem considering its unique ammunition requirements.
The Ukrainian Army previously operated the T-62s inherited from the erstwhile Soviet Union. However, whether the service still has enough stock of 115-millimeter ammunition or sources to replenish those stocks is unclear.
More importantly, Ukraine does not have sufficient ARVs. So, for instance, the US Army has 2,700 frontlines M-1 Abrams tanks and 1,200 M-88 recovery vehicles, roughly two tanks per ARV. Ukraine only had around three dozen BREM-1, BREM-2, BREM-M, BREM-64, and BTS-4 ARVs before Russia invaded last year.
These 36 or so ARVs were indeed not enough for nearly a thousand T-64s, T-72s, and T-80s that Ukraine possessed before the war.
Nevertheless, Ukrainians have been capturing, repairing, and redeploying numerous Russian tanks, as covered in detail by EurAsian Times recently.
So, several of these captured Russian tanks are being hauled to Ukrainian repair facilities near the frontlines using farm tractors, as has been witnessed since the beginning of the conflict through images and videos circulating on social media.
— ?? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) April 17, 2022
This effort to recover damaged Russian armored vehicles could be bolstered further with the help of damaged T-62s that are being converted to ARVs.
On social media, there is evidence of at least two captured T-62s being converted into ARVs in warehouses at unknown locations in Ukraine. The conversion process entails metalworkers removing the tank’s eight-ton turret and replacing it with a heavy-duty winch.
That said, it cannot be said how many T-62s the Ukrainians are converting into ARVs. So far, Ukrainians are known to have captured at least 43 T-62 tanks, as per the latest figures compiled by the military tracking blog Oryx based on visual confirmations.
— MilitaryLand.net (@Militarylandnet) February 13, 2023
However, some of these T-62s have been redeployed by the Ukrainian military in Zaporizhzhia and presumably in southern Ukraine.
While Ukraine converts the T-62s into ARVs, Russians are working to make these obsolete tanks more lethal with a new upgrade program that will see around 800 Soviet-era T-62 tanks reactivated in the next three years, as previously reported by EurAsian Times.
The upgrade program is probably taking place at Russia’s 103 Armored Repair Plant in the Far Eastern Transbaikal Krai region, where employees were seen working on T-62s. The 103 Armored Repair Plant is a subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned conglomerate UralVagonZavod, the country’s leading tank manufacturer.
The upgrades will involve the T-62s receiving 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.