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Ryan Robertson

Anchor, Investigative Reporter

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International

Russia is rushing to replace tanks lost in Ukraine

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Ryan Robertson

Anchor, Investigative Reporter

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Since their introduction to the battlefield, tanks have been an integral part of warfare. While Ukraine waits for the promised main battle tanks from the West to bolster its armored divisions, Russia is on its own.

When Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago, it had about 2500 tanks in service. Most of those were modernized Soviet-era T-72s, T-80s and T-90s. The T-14 Armata, one of the most advanced tanks in the world, was barely in production at the start of the war. So, Russia had at most 100 Armatas a year ago.

Though in the last year of fighting, Russia lost no less than 1,700 tanks. In addition to dozens just being abandoned by the Russian troops, Ukrainian artillery, rocket launchers and drones are decimating Russian armor. Poorly trained Russian crews are also contributing to high rates of loss.

There is just one factory in Russia still making new tanks, UralVagonZavod. It’s a massive complex in eastern Russia that was built in the 1930’s. It employs around 30,000 people, but the factory can only churn out 20 new tanks a month. Russia is currently losing around 150 tanks a month in Ukraine.

To keep up the fighting strength of its armored divisions Russia is increasingly relying on refurbishing old tanks, some of which have been in storage for decades. Novaya Gazeta reported it’s a matter of intense debate just how many tanks Russia has in storage that are recoverable. It’s estimated there are between 8,000-10,000 “preserved” tanks in Russia. However, many of them were stored outdoors and left to the elements. Metal rusts, rubber rots, and those will impact the number of tanks Russia can pull from its reserves.

Even if the supply chains stay constant, Russia thinks it can refurbish just 50 tanks a month, far below what the military’s armored divisions need. Simply put, Russia is losing tanks faster than it can make them. According to an open-source analyses, at the current rate, Russia will run out of tanks in two to three years.

Russia can extend that timeframe a bit by lowering production standards. For instance, using older sights in new tanks means more tanks to the battlefield faster. But some analysts said Russia may be forced to take a page out of Ukraine’s playbook and ask its allies to send some of their tanks.

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SINCE THEIR INTRODUCTION TO THE BATTLEFIELD, TANKS HAVE BEEN AN INTEGRAL PART OF WARFARE. WHILE UKRAINE WAITS FOR THE PROMISED MAIN BATTLE TANKS FROM THE WEST TO BOLSTER ITS ARMORED DIVISIONS, RUSSIA IS ON ITS OWN.

WHEN RUSSIA INVADED UKRAINE A YEAR AGO, IT HAD ABOUT 2500 TANKS IN SERVICE. MOST OF THOSE WERE MODERNIZED SOVIET-ERA T-72s, T-80s and T-90s. THE T-14 ARMATA, ONE OF THE MOST ADVANCED TANKS IN THE WORLD, WAS BARELY IN PRODUCTION AT THE START OF THE WAR. SO, RUSSIA HAD AT MOST 100 ARMATAS A YEAR AGO.

IN THE LAST YEAR OF FIGHTING, THOUGH, RUSSIA LOST NO LESS THAN 1700 TANKS. IN ADDITION TO DOZENS JUST BEING ABANDONED BY THE RUSSIANS, UKRAINIAN ARTILLERY, ROCKET LAUNCHERS AND DRONES ARE DECIMATING RUSSIAN ARMOR. POORLY TRAINED RUSSIAN CREWS ARE ALSO CONTRIBUTING TO HIGH RATES OF LOSS.

THERE IS JUST ONE FACTORY IN RUSSIA STILL MAKING NEW TANKS, BUT IT CAN ONLY CHURN OUT 20 NEW TANKS A MONTH. RUSSIA IS CURRENTLY LOSING AROUND 150 TANKS A MONTH IN UKRAINE.

TO KEEP UP THE FIGHTING STRENGTH OF ITS ARMORED DIVISIONS RUSSIA IS INCREASINGLY RELYING ON REFURBISHING OLD TANKS, SOME OF WHICH HAVE BEEN IN STORAGE FOR DECADES. RUSSIA THINKS IT CAN REFURBISH 50 TANKS A MONTH, FAR BELOW WHAT RUSSIA’S ARMORED DIVISIONS NEED.

SIMPLY PUT, RUSSIA IS LOSING TANKS FASTER THAN IT CAN MAKE THEM. ACCORDING TO AN OPEN-SOURCE ANALYSES, AT THE CURRENT RATE, RUSSIA WILL RUN OUT OF TANKS IN TWO TO THREE YEARS.

RUSSIA CAN EXTEND THAT TIMEFRAME A BIT BY LOWERING PRODUCTION STANDARDS. FOR INSTANCE, USING OLDER SIGHTS IN NEW TANKS MEANS RUSSIA CAN GET MORE TANKS TO THE BATTLEFIELD FASTER. BUT SOME ANALYSTS SAY RUSSIA MAY BE FORCED TO TAKE A PAGE OUT OF UKRAINE’S PLAYBOOK AND ASK ITS ALLIES TO SEND SOME OF THEIR TANKS.

FOR MORE UNBIASED, STRAIGHT FACT REPORTING ON RUSSIA AND THE WAR IN UKRAINE, BE SURE TO CHECK OUT STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS DOT COM.