Russia’s T-72 producer assists an Ukrainian how to repair its tank

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Navigating the complexities of a seized Russian T-72B3 tank, a Ukrainian tanker found himself grappling with a series of puzzling technical glitches. He faced baffling odds, confronting issues. They are ranging from perplexing oil leaks and temperamental compressors to a dysfunctional electric turret rotation mechanism. All of which were unfamiliar issues to the trained Ukrainian mechanics. 

Deviating from conventional tactics, the bold decision was made by the military to seek an external expert opinion. The request for “technical support” was inputted directly to the creators of the tank, Uralvagonzavod. To their surprise, immediate assistance was granted; on the receiving end of the hotline was a member of the original design team who suspected the malfunctions may be tied to the manufacturing aspect. 

In an unexpected turn of events, following the expert consultation, the Ukrainian tank driver disclosed with a measure of levity to the remote advisors the nature of his position. He revealed the human element in this gripping tale: he was, indeed, a Ukrainian soldier. The narrative deepened as he let them know that the tank, which had been causing consternation, was in fact seized in fierce combat near Izyum the previous year.

Photo credit: blogspot

Problems with the upgraded T-72 tanks?

The T-72B3, a modernized version of the previous-generation T-72 tank, presents a customizable host of enhancements. Notable features include the cutting-edge Sosna-U day-night digital gunner’s sight, improved reactive armor,  rear visibility aided by a video camera, and a cutting-edge barrel designed for the formidable 125-millimeter main gun. 

In the wake of considerable losses in early warfare, the military manufacturing powerhouse, Uralvagonzavod, threw its weight behind a fresh initiative. This program sought to rejuvenate older T-72 tanks, promising to revitalize them for continued active service. 

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According to the company, the upgraded iterations of these T-72 tanks would see comprehensive enhancements to practically all crucial systems. The cornerstone of this advancement would be a substantial increase in maneuverability, firepower, and protection levels.

Sosna-U is critical to the T-72

Unfortunately, the newly implemented enhancements fall short of significantly ameliorating the T-72’s effectiveness and neglect to tackle its foundational problem – its perilous ammunition storage approach. 

Positioned beneath the turret, the T-72 conveniently locates its primary ammunition in a carousel. An unintended hit on this area could instigate a devastating explosion, potentially destroying the tank completely, leading to the unfortunate demise of its three-member crew, and occasionally even sending the turret skyward. 

Photo credit: MWM

Furthermore, a fundamental characteristic of the T-72B3 is its Sosna-U sighting device. This instrument is reputed for its unparalleled ability to identify targets up to four miles distant, regardless of whether it is day or night. Intriguingly, the sight makes use of French optics, alleged to have been procured by Russian industry via non-conventional methods.

Sanctions hinder the flow of military electronics

Nevertheless, the flow of military electronics has been disrupted by sanctions implemented in 2014. Notwithstanding Russia’s innovative approaches to bypass these sanctions, the challenge of duplicating the optics without compromising on quality may prove daunting once the French components run out. 

Video screenshot

Earlier in the year, Uralvagonzavod, a lead player in Russian tank manufacturing, was reported to be equipping numerous upgraded T-72 tanks with the older model 1PN96MT-02 sights, according to a EurAsian Times article. These sights, in contrast to the advanced Sosna-U system, have a restricted range of merely two miles. 

The exact influence of these upgrades on the ground remains to be fully ascertained. However, it’s speculated that currently, the Russian defense industry is producing an approximate total of 200 tanks annually.


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