MOSCOW, RUSSIA — Russia pulled 50-year-old 100mm anti-tank guns from its warehouses, loaded them onto a train, and sent them to Ukraine, a video posted online shows. These are MT-12 Rapier or 2A29. Despite more than half a century of history, these anti-tank guns are liked and used by both the Russian and Ukrainian armed forces.
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50 years ago this anti-tank gun may have been vital on the front, but today it is not. However, it is highly effective against unarmoured, light armored vehicles or enemy trenches [dungeons, buildings].
The MT-12 is the successor of the T-12, which entered service ten years earlier – in 1961. Currently, at least ten countries in the world are the remaining MT-12 operators, including NATO members Bulgaria and Hungary. In previous years, the MT-12 was in service with the armies of the former Yugoslavia and East Germany. To this day, however, it remains in service in Russia since the era of the Soviet Union.
The anti-tank gun has military experience, but not as much as some of the more famous Soviet weapon systems, which have taken part in almost every conflict since the end of World War II until today. Actually, MT-12 was used in two wars before the current one between Russia and Ukraine and the are Soviet-Afghan War and Transnistria War.
The 100mm anti-tank gun is towed, not self-propelled. The operational range can be up to 3,000 meters in direct fire and about 8,200 meters in indirect fire. It can fire between 6 and 14 rounds per minute, which in terms of performance is a very good rpm for this type of gun. The cannon’s recoil is hydro-pneumatic.
Sending this weapon to Ukraine most likely means strengthening current Russian positions deep in their rear. The upcoming Ukrainian offensive will force the Russian army to use more modern artillery. This places the MT-12 as a “defender of the conquered”.
MT-12 can hardly perform brilliantly at the front. Although an excellent gun for trenches and light armored vehicles, the MT-12 cannot stop a tank. If it uses solid shells, the MT-12 can’t penetrate the 800 and 900 mm Rolled Homogeneous Armor [RHA] of 1990s tanks like the Leopard 2. As some experts say, this gun has reached its physical limits.
In principle, the MT-12 can use 9M117 Bastion ammunition. They are Russian laser beam-riding anti-tank missiles. This anti-tank ammunition can penetrate tank armor, but not modern, but older. For example, Bastion can damage a tank of the rank of T-55 and T-62. I.e. at some point, the MT-12 could be useful against the Russian T-62 tanks already captured by the Ukrainian armed forces.
Bastion is actually the original source of some of the more modern Russian tank ammunition, such as the 9M119 Svir. This ammunition can penetrate the armor of T-72 and T-80 tanks, which are of Leopard 2 caliber. MT-12 cannot use such ammunition because it is of 125mm caliber.
Of course, it is not the cannon, but the projectile that is dangerous for a tank. If the Russians decide to load this gun with modern Stabilized Fin Suppression [APFSDS] and modern High Explosive Anti-Tank [HEAT] rounds it has a chance of hitting an enemy tank, seriously, disabling it and rendering it ineffective on the battlefield. But it remains a mystery, and with hints of doubt, how and if the 50-year-old barrel will be able to withstand such modern ammunition.
Most likely, the MT-12 will be used for intensive fire among the ranks of the Ukrainian units. Various unarmored and lightly armored vehicles such as the M113 can fall victim to the MT-12. These guns can also successfully attack the support vehicles of tank brigades. The MT-12 can attack convoys of trucks carrying supplies, equipment, and ammunition.
However, Russia is certainly sending MT-12 to increase the artillery availability on the front, which is decreasing due to frequent Ukrainian attacks, especially with drones. One way or another, the MT-12 can be useful, but not impactful.
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