When The Kiev Army Has No More Tanks

by Denis Selesnev, The Vineyard of The Saker Translated by Eugenia The military operation in Donbass resulted for the Ukrainian army in huge losses of weapons – first of all, tanks. It has been estimated that during hostilities of 2014 the Military Forces of Ukraine (MFU) lost up to 200 tanks destroyed or taken by the adversary. The resumption of the active hostilities naturally leads to new losses. From the beginning of 2015 through the mid-February 50 tanks were destroyed, at least 40 taken, and a number damaged and had to be removed for repairs. Therefore, in a month or so of fighting Kiev lost more than 100 tanks, or at least 300 from the beginning of the military campaign. The age factor is also worth noting – most tanks in the army of Ukraine were produced about 30 years ago. This further increases the rate of breakups and malfunctions. Can no longer do it by themselves Theoretically, MFU could still make up for losses, since in addition to 600 T-64 that the army had at the beginning of hostilities (although not all of them were operational), warehouses stored additional 600 T-64, 600 T-72, and 150 T-80. However, there were serious problems with the introductions of these machines into the active army. First, back in summer at least 300 of stored T-72 were deemed unsuitable for repairs. In reality, many of these units are now just carcasses of tanks after having been dismantled to fulfill export contracts. Total up to 800 tanks of this type were sold during the period of independence, while remaining served as the source of spare parts. Although T-64 was not exported (with the exception of a few tanks sold in the fall of 2014), unsuitable storage conditions led to failure of many units and external equipment. The President and Minister of Defense of Ukraine solemnly presented modernized and reconditioned weapons to representative of military units. Judging by the photos of these events, total of about a hundred of repaired and refurbished tanks were transferred. At least a third of them are tanks intended for export to Congo and Nigeria and produced in the prewar time. It is also worth noting that the transfer of 31 tanks (a battalion) refurbished in the tank repairing facility in Lvov ended up in a scandal. After the ceremonious presentation by the President, the commander of the tank battalion of the 14th tank brigade refused to accept the machines because of their unsatisfactory technical condition. Soon after all of them were returned to the facility for additional repairs. Interestingly, according to the general director of the Malishev factory who was present at one of those ceremonious transfers, his plant managed to repair up to 20 damaged in battle tanks “Bulat” – Ukrainian modification of T-64 – in three months. Considering that the Lvov facility and Malishev factory are the best-preserved enterprises of the kind, the whole Ukrainian industry is hardly capable of providing more than one tank battalion a month. This means that it would need to work for 3-4 months to make up for losses incurred in one month. As to the supplies of new rather than refurbished machines, here the prospects are even less optimistic. The only factory in Ukraine capable of producing new tanks is the Malishev factory in Kharkov. According to its general director Nikolai Belov, the current production cycle for a tank is 9 months. It is unclear how many tanks the factory can produce simultaneously. Based on the most optimistic assessment of “Ukroboronprom” (the Ukrainian state-owned corporation of military enterprises), in 2015 the Ukrainian tank industry will be able to produce up to 40 new tanks. This number doesn’t look so small, particularly taking into account that in the last two years the factory produced no more than 10 new machines. But it will still be necessary to find reliable suppliers to replace some Russian-produced components, if the production is to reach even these numbers, modest as they are in comparison with the demands of the front. Continue Reading>>>

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