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Mounting cage armor on top of Russian tank turrets proves useless

As everybody noticed, soon after the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian tank crews tried to reinforce the top armor of their turrets with barbecue-like grills and sandbags. This was supposed to protect tanks from Javelin missiles and Bayraktar TB2 strikes. But it has proven inefficient against missiles and loitering ammunitions (kamikaze drones).
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The "brazier" mounted as a cage armor on top of the turret to trigger an anti-tank missile before it hit the tank dangerously hinders a quick escape by the commander and gunner (Picture source: Russian MoD)

It doesn’t work, indeed, the Ukrainian Defense Express website writes. "This is evidenced by the interview of Russian tanker Captain Alexei Ukhachev in the publication "Moscow Komsomolets", which was published after his death in Ukraine: "Tankist-hero told about the special operation and died".

After six months of testing such a design of cage top protection, the first photos with such "braziers" appeared in July 2021. Only then did the Russians realize that in case a tank is hit and catches fire, it is unrealistic to believe the commander and gunner can get out, as the cage would partly block or dangerously complicate the passage". Installing "braziers" (top-turret grill-cages) also led to large-scale problems with radio communications in the tank units, as well as the transformation of the tank into a guaranteed mass grave for the commander and gunner. Initially, such shortcomings were not identified but once they became understood, "that's why everyone removed them and threw the braziers away", said Captain Alexei Ukhachev.

The information about the problem caused by the cage armor to the radio communications explains the completely chaotic behavior of Russian tankers on the battlefield: they simply had no radio connection, Defense Express writes.

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Russian tank destroyed in Ukraine, in spite of its cage armor (and reactive armor boxes (ERA)) intended to protect it from missiles and loitering ammunitions (Picture source: via Oryx website)

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The first pictures showing Russian tanks with a "brazier" mounted on the turret appeared in 2021 (Picture source: Russian MoD)

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In Ukraine, the improvised combination of a cage armor topped by sandbags on the turret roof, as well well reactive armor boxes (ERA), to protect the tank from anti-tank missiles and loitering ammunitions rapidly proved inefficient, hence massive losses of tanks (Picture source: Russian MoD)

Russian failures in planning and reconnaissance

And this is not the end of Captain Ukhachev's revelations, Defense Express reports: He also acknowledged that the Ukrainian army is head and shoulders above the Russian army in terms of technological level. First of all, in the planning of reconnaissance for artillery. First, drones detect targets, then make all the necessary calculations using programs downloaded on tablets or smartphones. The target’s coordinates are automatically loaded. A program gives the direction and elevation angles to apply to the gun or mortar barrel. Then, it is right on target!

For example, Defense Express reports, a forward observer or a drone equipped with a thermal imager can transmit coordinates on a tablet loaded with electronic maps. The gunners no longer need paper maps. On an electronic tablet, the targeted point is indicated and the coordinates are automatically transmitted. "We didn't have that", said Ukhachev.

Ukhachev describes how his tank was destroyed: "The last thing I saw was a Javelin. The missile went up, I shouted to the driver-mechanic "Go back! " to rush out of our position. But it was too late. The missile hit the tank turret, next to the cap of the "Pine" sight". Injured while escaping from the burning tank, Ukhachev does not mention the fate of the gunner-radio operator, whose position is just under this "Pine". One can assume he was killed. According to the tank commander, this event took place on March 25, apparently about a week before he gave his interview to the Moscow Komsomolets which reports that Ukhachev was killed in Ukraine on May 10, Defense Express writes.


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