Igor: I can’t fight Russians with a tank twice as old as my age
KYIV, UKRAINE — Not only Russia is losing tanks in the war in Ukraine. Much of the news stream prefers to report more on Russian losses. Ukrainians are silent. However, there are facts such as that Ukraine has lost half of the 800 operational-ready tanks it had before the start of the war.
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Kyiv has various obsolete Soviet tanks in service. T-64, T-72, T-80 and T-84. Since the beginning of the war, Ukraine has relied on supplies of Soviet tanks from countries that were former members of the Eastern Soviet Bloc.
It is quite understandable that the news of the supply of tanks from Ukraine’s Western allies is news welcomed among Ukrainian tank crews. Another issue is that at the moment there are no indications that Ukraine will receive the desired amount of tanks. Despite the promises, about 50 tanks have been confirmed so far. However, this does not exclude the possibility that the number of delivered quantities may be increased.
In this regard, a Ukrainian tank commander, nicknamed Igor, gave an interview with the Spanish media El Pais. He is the commander of a T-64 tank – the oldest of the tanks participating in the war in Ukraine. Igor says that very often he has to avoid fighting the Russians because of the equipment at his disposal. He is forced by circumstances to give way.
The tank’s technical problems, such as a malfunctioning undercarriage and constant suffocation in the tank after firing the cannon, were at the root of its retreat. Igor says that these problems limit combat operations. Both his and his colleagues.
In fact, Igor’s complaint is not his alone. Many other Ukrainian tank crews say the same words. According to them, the weapon system they work with is often accompanied by worn equipment, damage, and malfunction.
Igor cannot fight a tank that is 50 years old – twice his age, the Ukrainian complained to Spanish journalists. He is looking forward to the new equipment with hope, with the tank he most often mentions being the Leopard 2. “I’m waiting for the German Leopard tank to arrive so I can switch to a reliable vehicle,” Igor says.
Germany is the country that authorized the re-export of Leopard 2 to Ukraine. The German Chancellor, Mr. Olaf Scholz, however, warned the Allies that they should prepare for a long war. The first tanks are expected to arrive in March, or April at the latest.
However, many analysts say Leopard 2 will not be as effective as the Ukrainians want. It is not about the tank’s combat capability, but about the Ukrainian conditions of the geographical terrain and the national road infrastructure. According to opinions on the web, Ukraine has been building bridges to meet the requirements of Soviet-designed tanks. They are lighter than the western ones. I.e. it is assumed that some of this road equipment will not support the weight of Leopard 2, Challenger 2, and Abrams M1.
Igor’s hopes may not come true anytime soon. Open data indicates that there are approximately 2,000 operationally ready Leopard 2 tanks in Europe. In reality, however, Europe cannot currently raise even a battalion of Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine.
Ukraine formed its tank battalions with 31 units of tanks. So far, only Poland has promised 30 Leopard 2A4 tanks. The other two countries are Germany [14 Leopard 2A6] and Portugal [3 Leopard 2A6].
It should also be noted that a significant part of the promised tanks must be brought into operational combat readiness. Many of them are out of order, which will also play a role in their delivery to Ukraine.
The T-64 is a Soviet-era tank developed in the mid-to-late 1960s. It was produced until the late 1980s, with a total of around 13,000 units produced. A tank weighs 38 tons. It is armed with a 125mm smoothbore cannon and two machine guns, respectively: a 7.62 mm PKMT coaxial machine gun and a 12.7 mm NSVT anti-aircraft machine gun.
The engine provides the T-64 with a power of nearly 700 horsepower, which is almost half the power of modern tanks, including Russian ones. 500 km is the distance that the T-64 covers when filling one tank with fuel. The maximum speed of the T-64 reaches 60 km/h.
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