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Ukraine loses first Polish PT-91 main battle tank against Russia

On July 9, 2023, in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast, the Russian army destroyed Ukrainian T-72EA and PT-91 Twardy tanks, as well as an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC). This incident marks the first confirmed loss of the PT-91 tanks donated by Poland. These images can be seen in a tweet from Ukraine Weapons Tracker.
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 We can see the destroyed Ukrainian Main Battle Tank PT-91, which was provided by Poland. (Picture source: Telegram Rusich_army video footage)

The destructive attack, carried out by the Russian army, dealt a blow to the Ukrainian forces operating in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Among the casualties were the Ukrainian T-72EA tanks, renowned for their capabilities on the battlefield, and the PT-91 Twardy tanks, which were donated by Poland to enhance Ukraine's armored forces. This development is natural in the context of the war in Ukraine but the first destroyed PT-91 is nonetheless a significant step in the conflict.

For the record, Poland had sent 60 of its tanks to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, for delivery from April 2023.

The PT-91 Twardy tank is a Polish battle tank developed on the basis of a Russian T-72M1. It entered service in 1995 and there are around 285 of them in existence today.

It has the same cannon as its parent, a 125 mm smoothbore gun, as well as a 7.62 mm coaxial gun and a 12.7 mm gun designed to defend the tank against air attacks. Like its Russian counterpart, the PT-91 has an automatic reloading system, allowing it to carry just 3 crewmen, a driver, a gunner, and a tank commander.

The PT-91 also has a steel hull and several ERA (explosive reactive armor) systems from Poland, such as the ERAWA-1 and ERAWA-2. With a weight of 45 tonnes and a four-stroke S-12u engine capable of developing 850 horsepower, the PT-91 is capable of reaching a maximum speed of 60 km/h, with a maximum range of 650 km. The Polish tank is capable of negotiating slopes of up to 60% and side slopes of up to 50%. It can also climb 0.85-meter vertical obstacles and cross 2.8-meter-wide trenches, which may come in handy given the current combat conditions in Ukraine.

The PT-91 battle tank is equipped with a new fire control system developed in Slovakia. It has an electronic information unit indicating the tank's technical status. Four laser warning antennae are installed around the turret and alert the crew if the tank is targeted by a rangefinder or laser designator. This system is known as the OBRA laser warning system and operates in both automatic and manual modes. A snorkel is mounted on the right-hand side of the turret and can be used to cross a river up to 5 meters deep. The PT-91's equipment includes an NBC protection system and a night vision system.

The loss of a PT-91 tank, although natural, remains an interesting development in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, as Ukraine only has a limited stock of this type of tank, Poland having delivered 60. It remains to be seen how the rest of the tanks will be used, and whether any further destruction or even capture will take place in the next few days.

Ukraine loses first Polish PT 91 main battle tank against Russia 925 002
Polish Army PT-91 Twardy MBT Main Batlle Tank. (Pictures U.S. DoD)


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