Why did Russia activate T-62s instead of T-72 or T-80 tanks?

PANAGYURISHTE ($1=2,01 Bulgarian Levs) — BulgarianMilitary.com has already written that Russia is preparing to carry out a deep modernization of its T-62 reserve tanks. Sources suggest that between 800 and 1,000 tanks of this model are being refurbished. However, why did Russia choose the T-62 instead of the newer T-72 or T-80 models?

Why did Russia activate T-62s instead of T-72 or T-80 tanks?
Photo credit: Alexey Radovanov

Russia has produced over 22,000 T-62 tanks. According to unconfirmed information, just over 2,000 tanks are in service in the Soviet Union and later in Russia. After the start of the Syrian civil war and the entry of the Russian army into Syria, a part of these tanks was transferred there. As we reported in mid-summer, and after Russian government sources confirmed, T-62s from Tajikistan, Libya, and Syria are returning to Russia, or leaving for the war in Ukraine.

There is a reason why the T-62 was preferred for modernization over the newer T-72 or even the T-80. It is said that the future tank companies and mechanized corps of Donbas will be armed with T-62 tanks. The T-62 is easier and faster to train, both for the future rank-and-file tankers and for the mobilized Russian citizens. The T-62 has lower maintenance costs, too. According to some sources on the Internet [mostly Russian], these two reasons are the basis for Moscow’s preference for this tank.

But there are other reasons. The T-62 is well suited for military operations in mountainous areas and densely populated urban environments. Another Russian tank – the T-55 – is characterized by similar characteristics. It is from the T-55 that the T-62 originates, so the tank mobility of the latter should not surprise us. T-62 has received a lot of combat experience over the last ten years in Syria.

Watch: Russia uses reserves and sends Soviet T-62 tanks to Ukraine
Photo: Wikipedia

It is important to note a little-mentioned fact – for ten years in Syria, Russia upgraded the T-62 with technologies, laser rangefinders, and anti-personnel ammunition, but manufactured in North Korea. This is the fourth reason – the Syrian T-62s going to the front in Ukraine are already modernized with technology, bypassing the impossibility of this happening now in Russia, due to Western economic sanctions.

Some experts [mostly Russian] claim that the modernization of the T-62 may prove more effective than that of the T-72 or T-80. The T-62 allows for easier integration of Kontakt-5 or Relikt explosive reactive armor, third-generation thermal sights [either Russian or North Korean], and possibly even new rounds for APFSDS. Also, a little-known and mentioned fact is that the T-62 was the first tank in the world to be mass-produced with a smoothbore gun and armor-piercing fins. The T-62 was also the first in the world to use armor-piercing fin stabilizing discarding sabot [APFSDS] rounds. So, re-integrating APFSDS will apparently not be a problem.

All this could lead to a new modification of the T-62, something like the T-62M2. The T-62M2 may turn out to not only match the performance of the T-72 or T-80 but in some cases surpass it. According to Russian analysts, perhaps the T-62M2 will outperform the T-72 mainly because the latter never received the desired modernization. Of course, the T-62M2 cannot be compared to Western tanks, as it is weaker. But Ukraine does not have western tanks, and the west still refuses to arm the Ukrainian mechanized brigades with better armor for their tanks. I.e. The T-62M2 can at least be compared to Ukrainian stockpiles and armaments.

Watch: Russia uses reserves and sends Soviet T-62 tanks to Ukraine

There is logic to the activation of the T-62 – could be a useful asset, cheap to maintain, available in large quantities, and quickly modernized with sensors to meet the requirements of the front in Ukraine. But, something remains unsaid – if the T-72, T-80, and T-90 are destroying by anti-tank missiles delivered to Ukraine, how does Moscow even expect the T-62 to counter?

Read more about the structure and armament of the T-62 tank in this article


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