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Russia destroys own T-90M MBT with Lancet loitering munition

According to a tweet from Ukrainian Witness dated August 22, 2023, a Russian Lancet reportedly struck a T-90M tank of its own forces. Contrary to initial thoughts, this action might not have been a complete mistake but rather a tactic to prevent it from falling into the hands of Ukrainian forces. This move highlights the significance of equipment captured in Ukraine and the preference to destroy it rather than let it be seized by the enemy.
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Russian T-90M Main Battle Tank destroyed by a Russian Lancet (Picture source: Twitter account of Ukrainian Witness )

A Ukrainian drone reportedly first forced the Russian T-90M tank to retreat. The exact sequence of events leading to the tank's destruction remains unclear, but it's evident that Ukrainian forces actively engaged the Russian tank, leading to its abandonment. The Russians then chose to destroy it rather than let it fall into Ukrainian hands.

Russian propaganda, on the other hand, claims the video shows not a Russian T-90M but an M-55S from Slovenia given to Ukraine. Unfortunately for Russia, it appears that the vehicle is indeed a T-90M. However, destroying one's own equipment isn't as thoughtless as it seems; it's better to destroy it than let it be captured by the enemy.

The T-90M is one of the most advanced battle tanks designed and used by Russia. Weighing 46,500 kg, it can reach a top speed of 60 km/h, allowing it to cover a distance of 550 km without refueling. It's armed with a 125mm cannon, a PKT 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, and an NSVT 12.7mm machine gun. The tank is shielded by standard armor, further enhanced by the Explosive Reactive Armour Relikt. Additionally, to counter RPG threats, it features a metal net and bar-slat armor.

It boasts NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) protection, a fire detection and suppression system, a front-mounted dozer blade, a deep fording kit, and a modern fire control system. With dimensions of 6.68m in length, 3.78m in width, and 2.23m in height, the T-90M is designed to accommodate a crew of three.

The amount of equipment captured by Ukrainians from the Russians since the conflict began is staggering. Some analysts even believe that Russia is one of Ukraine's main equipment suppliers. To give an idea, Ukrainians are believed to have captured 548 tanks, 607 Infantry Fighting Vehicles, 91 Armored Personnel Carriers, and many more. The total number of vehicles seized by Ukrainians is estimated at 2,863 according to OSINT sources.

Given this vast amount of captured equipment, it's understandable why Russian forces prefer to destroy their own equipment rather than bolster the firepower of the Ukrainian armed forces. Unlike the Russians, Ukrainians don't systematically destroy their abandoned vehicles, and many Western vehicles have been captured intact. This poses a significant problem as the Russians can now reverse-engineer from the captured vehicles, gaining a strategic advantage.

Thus, destroying equipment is preferable to its capture by the enemy, making this act not so desperate but rather well-thought-out.


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