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Russian forces deploy kamikaze MT-LB APC against Ukrainian forces

According to the Ukrainian 93rd Mechanized Brigade on November 17, 2023, Russian forces attempted to breach a Ukrainian stronghold near the village of Vodyane, west of the Avdiivka front in Ukraine, using a kamikaze vehicle. The selected vehicle, identified as an MT-LB armored personnel carrier, was reportedly loaded with a substantial amount of explosives, approximately two tons of TNT.
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The driver pulled the hand throttle to maintain speed and then abandoned the vehicle. The kamikaze MT-LB's progress was interrupted as it encountered an anti-tank mine (Picture source: Telegram)

Upon nearing the target, the driver implemented a tactic commonly associated with kamikaze attacks: pulling the hand throttle to maintain speed and then abandoning the vehicle. While the driver escaped unharmed, the kamikaze MT-LB's progress was interrupted as it encountered an anti-tank mine halfway through its route. Despite this, the ensuing explosion demonstrated the potential of such strategies, with the MT-LB still managing to clear a section of the minefield.

This incident highlights the lengths to which Russian soldiers are willing to go in their attempts to overcome fortified Ukrainian positions, involving the sacrifice of an armored vehicle loaded with a substantial quantity of explosives, potentially sourced from ammunition or shells. This event marks the third documented instance of a kamikaze vehicle, also referred to as a Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED), in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The deployment of kamikaze-style attacks using repurposed military vehicles appears to be a growing trend within Russian forces, notably in light of reports indicating a shortage of operational vehicles. Instances of this include the use of Stalin-era BTR-50 armored personnel carriers (APCs), the deployment of a BTR-90 prototype sourced from a museum, the comeback of the Soviet-era T-80 tank, and the extraction of almost half of the Soviet-era tanks from a key military storage facility located in eastern Siberia.

As previously reported by Army Recognition on June 22, 2023, Russian soldiers from an engineer-sapper unit had utilized a captured armored personnel carrier, likely an MT-LB, loaded with approximately 3.5 tons of TNT and five FAB-100 aerial bombs. Footage released by the Russian state-owned TASS news agency displayed the vehicle's compartment filled with explosives. Upon reaching a proximity of about 300 meters from the target, the driver executed the same tactic—pulling the hand throttle, exiting the vehicle, and allowing it to proceed directly toward the Ukrainian stronghold. A ground-fired weapon, possibly a rocket-propelled grenade, struck the tank, resulting in a significant explosion and secondary blasts. Questions remain regarding whether the MT-LB was remotely detonated.

The MT-LB is an amphibious multipurpose tracked armored vehicle developed in Ukraine in the early 1960s and extensively utilized by the Russian army. It possesses a wide array of capabilities, with over 80 variants and 1,493 units currently in service. The vehicle is designed to tow trailers or weapons up to 6,500 kg and accommodate 11 soldiers in its troop compartment. Armament includes a one-man turret armed with a 7.62mm PKT machine gun. Constructed with all-welded steel armor, the MT-LB provides protection against small arms and shell splinters. The vehicle can reach a speed of 62 km/h and a cruising range of 500 km.

Hugo Kaaman, a researcher tracking VBIEDs, pointed out that the use of car bombs is typically associated with technologically inferior forces lacking an air force capable of effectively engaging fortified positions and heavy vehicles. Despite Russia possessing powerful air forces, Ukraine's strategic actions have forced them to operate at a distance from the battlefield, evening the odds on the ground.

The deployment of kamikaze-style tactics using armored vehicles draws parallels with historical instances, such as ISIS militants using car bombs to attack convoys and instill terror. Going further back to World War 2, the Germans utilized small remotely-controlled tracked vehicles known as Goliaths for similar purposes. The Goliath Light Charge Carrier, consisting of electrically powered Sd.Kfz. 302 and petrol-engine powered Sd.Kfz. 303a and 303b, carried high explosives and was intended for various applications, including tank destruction and disrupting infantry formations. Goliaths were single-use vehicles designed to be destroyed upon reaching their target, with later models adopting a more cost-effective two-stroke gasoline engine.

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The MT-LB is a multipurpose tracked armored vehicle developed in Ukraine in the early 1960s and extensively utilized by the Russian army. (Picture source: Yandex)


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