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Russia unveils drone-resistant ‘turtle tanks’

May 3

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The Russian military has unveiled a new drone-resistant tank, which has gained the nickname “turtle tank” due to its heavy shell-like armor and low mobility. While heavy artillery can stop the advance of these turtle tanks, Ukrainian forces have run desperately low on artillery and heavy munitions.

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan dives into the details of how these tanks work, what vulnerabilities they have, and how military technology is evolving as a whole.

The following is an excerpt from Peter’s May 3 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

The Russians are playing dress up with their tanks and it might reveal where the future of military conflict is heading. Okay, “dress up” might not be the right term, but just Google a picture of the Russian turtle tanks to get an idea of what I’m talking about.

These tanks are being equipped with heavy armor to defend against the drone attacks that have become popular in the Ukraine war. This innovation reflects a larger shift in warfare strategies, as countries like Ukraine have had to come up with new (and cheaper) ways of striking targets.

Innovations like the turtle tanks are a great example of the adaptations in modern warfare. However, as aid and support hit Ukraine, we’ll likely see a new round of innovations emerge onto the scene.

Hey everybody, Peter Zeihan here coming to you from snowy Colorado. Today we’re going to talk about a military innovation on the Russian side of the Ukraine war, you guys may have seen some of the videos and the photos, but they have something that’s now called a turtle tank where they take a tank, and they put it in this turtle like shell of armor that covers the entire thing, to the point that the turret can’t even rotate. The idea is to make it relatively drone proof. It looks silly. And obviously, some of the earlier iterations were destroyed quickly. But the Russians have continued to innovate it because they need it. It’s serving a very real battlefield purpose. So because of what happened with the US Congress, it’s been months since the Ukrainians have gotten meaningful military assistance from the United States. And in that sort of environment, they’ve been forced to go kind of a do it yourself program. And so instead of relying on more traditional things like tanks and missiles, long range drones and artillery, they basically can cranking out 1000s 10s of 1000s of antipersonnel drones that only weigh a couple pounds every month. And while one of those is probably not going to take out a tank, a couple that get to the right spot can maybe damage a tread and immobilize a vehicle, and then allow other methods to go in and take it out. Well, in that same sort of environment, if they don’t have a lot of artillery, then the Russians can mass forces and make big pushes into Ukrainian positions. The Turtles, Hank is a way for the Russians of dealing with both of those issues. So if there isn’t a lot of artillery, then the tanks can be in clusters with infantry, and get a lot closer to the Ukrainian positions more or less safely. And then by putting all this shell of armor on it, the antipersonnel mines can’t damage the treads, no matter how many you throw at it, there still might be some gaps in the armor, because you know, you have to be able to see, but it’s a much different situation where the Ukrainians would have to throw 234 100 things at one tank in order to stop it, as opposed to just a half a dozen before. In addition, the Russians are putting protection on the bottom of the tank so they can serve as kind of slapdash, mind clearing devices as well. So the idea is you take a couple of these turtle tanks and was pushed directly into Ukrainian positions going right through the mines that the Ukrainians have dropped, basically ignore the antipersonnel drones, and it’s getting thrown at them. And then behind those tanks, you have vehicles that are carrying infantry. So it’s designed to basically provide direct access to the Ukrainian positions, when all the while the Russians are hitting those Ukrainian positions with artillery and glide bombs. So it’s not a stupid strategy at all. The question is, whether it is sustainable, whether it’s going to be necessary in the future. Couple things to keep in mind, here we are kind of in a position like we were in the US Civil War, where there are a whole new raft of military technologies becoming available, and we’re seeing how they do and do not mesh with the technologies Whoa, we already had. So regardless of what you think of either side of the Ukraine, or studying how both sides are adapting to this new reality is something that is going to educate us all on the nature of military conflict moving forward. So this is a big deal. And what the Russians are doing is, they’re basically inventing a new style of warfare. Whether or not this specific type of weapon system is going to last. Probably not. The only reason that the turtle tank is viable, is because the Ukrainians don’t have artillery. And now that the US Congress has finally acted, and weapon systems are being flown in most first and foremost, including a lot of artillery shells, you should expect things like this to just be lit up as targets of very soon. So this specific weapons system might not be the harbinger of things to come. But it’s certainly representative of a whole class of weapons systems that are going to be invented from scratch, or during the remainder of this war.

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