1002_БТР 4Prior to the start of combat actions in Donbas, Ukraine’s Armed Forces and other security forces were armed largely with weapons left behind by the Soviet Army after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Additions of newly-made weapons, for different reasons, were quite rare and very limited in numbers. But Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has changed the situation regarding the provision of security forces with upgraded as well as newly made Ukrainian weapons, especially armored vehicles.


Combat units started receive newly produced tanks, armored personnel carriers, armored cars which were then delivered immediately to the East of Ukraine, in order to subject them to baptism of fire in actual combat scenarios. Given below are a few examples of use of Ukrainian armored vehicles in the combat actions in Donbas Since the start of combat actions in 2014, the armored vehicles, including tanks, were used most extensively among other types of armaments available to Ukraine’s military.


Prior to the annexation of the Crimea and the beginning of Donbas combat actions, the tank inventory of Ukraine’s Land Forces consisted of 735 tanks, including the most recent upgrade of the T-64 MBT - BM Bulat, and exclusively Ukrainian product known as BM Oplot. Both are currently in production by SE “Malyshev Plant” in Kharkiv.

 

 

Булат Булат

T-64 MBT - BM Bulat


Given the fact that armored vehicles of the Land Forces’ tank and mechanized units were used in combat operations in the combat actions in Donbas, it is certain that new Ukrainian developments have also got their baptism of fire.
In particular, as evidenced by Ukrainian soldiers, BM Bulat showed itself to advantage in the battlefield. It won numerous tank duels with hostile Russian tanks.
For example, Ukrainian Army’s 1st Tank Brigade units equipped with BM Bulat, defeated Russian tank units in a direct engagement outside Debaltseve. The engagement ended up with two destroyed hostile T-72B tanks. It is significant that these tanks were destroyed by another Ukrainian development – the Kombat anti-tank guided missile system, which was developed by Kyiv SE “State Kyiv Design Bureau “Luch”.


Regarding BM Oplot, there are no official reports confirming that the tank was used in combat actions in Donbas. At the same time, according to the unconfirmed reports BM Oplot was used by Ukrainian army in the battle of the Bakhmut Road. In particular, at one of the Road sections, a 3-tank raiding team, including 2 BM Oplot tanks, attacked Russian Armed Forces’ 136th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade units during their redeployment. As a result, 2 hostile tanks and a KAMAZ truck carrying enemy personnel were destroyed.


A very important component of the Ukrainian heavy armored vehicles’ survivability in the Donbas battlefields is the Explosive reactive armor (ERA). Many of the tanks used by Ukrainian Army units are equipped with ERA modules “Nozh” developed by Kyiv SE «Microtec Base Center for Critical Technologies».
The vehicles withstood multiple direct hits by Russian anti-tank missiles, but thanks to the elements of the “Nozh” ERA did not get significant damage.


There was a demonstrative engagement, when three BM Bulat vehicles of the 1st Tank Brigade attacked enemy positions outside Lohvynove on February 12, 2015. This is how the events were described by the tank company commander,
Captain O.Moroz: “First I saw the undershot in our tank on its right-hand side. Then – a direct hit at the turret of Kostenko’s tank! Thank God, the robust ERA protection on the Bulat had worked. The tank not just survived, but remained combat ready and went back into combat immediately after the hit”.


Another example is the combat near Shyrokyne out- side Mariupol when Azov Regiment’s T-64BM1M tank equipped with “Nozh” ERA was fired by hostile anti-tank system. Two ERA panels worked very well and thus prevented penetration of the core armor. The tank retained its combat capability and continued performing its combat mission. As for Ukrainian armored vehicles on wheeled platforms, it has been mentioned that they have been used in the combat actions in Donbas from the very beginning.

 

 

T 64BM1M T 64BM1M

T-64BM1M 


The BTR-4 and BTR-3 APCs (produced respectively by SE “Malyshev Plant” and SE “Kyiv Armor Plant”) showed themselves to advantage in the battlefield. The National Guard units were the first to add BTR-4 vehicles to their APC inventories.

 

 

БТР 4

BTR-4

 

Particularly, in the first act of 2014, the National Guard took delivery of over fifty BTR-4 vehicles in various configurations, which were later sent for service to the combat units deployed in Donbas. The BTR-4 showed itself to advantage in combat as a robust, low-maintenance vehicle with impressive firepower and high-level protection. BTR-4 crews spent much of the time performing checkpoint security missions where the vehicles served as armored weapon emplacements.

 

All material of the article you can find in UDR #1/2017

 

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