the myth of tank supremacy was demolished in Ukraine Business

The Bayraktars destroyed all kinds of Russian targets, including missile systems that should have taken them down. It is even believed that Bayraktars or similar drones contributed significantly to the sinking of the Russian missile cruiser Moskva.

It is saying too much that there is no need for supersonic jets. We probably need it, for specialized tasks. But the idea that cheaper, simpler aircraft cannot be effective in modern, high-intensity warfare – even, as it is today, against the most powerful adversary possible in the world – has been very clearly exposed as a nonsense. The idea that the fast jet should be the standard airstrike platform was fatally undermined by the war in Ukraine.

The assumption that future military aircraft should be flown is now even more questionable than it already was. High-end missions of the Sead/Dead or Moskva type are best carried out without a pilot, by jet drones called “cruise missiles”. The same goes for daily strike tasks.

The RAF’s current plan to have a small handful of drones and as many manned fast jets as possible needs to be rethought. The RAF won’t do it alone. An Air Force without a significant number of combat aircrew could not long remain an independent service.

But what about the army?

Going back to conventional military wisdom, if neither side can take control of the skies, we go back to the vision of pre-smart weapons ground warfare of the 1980s: the vision that is still relevant in a large part of the British army.

According to this view, there is practically nothing that can stop a large, heavily equipped tank army, except another such tank army.

Soldiers believed for generations that heavy armored forces would overthrow lightly equipped opposition like “speed bumps”. Heavy Attackers may not be able to take cities quickly, but they will quickly bypass them, surrounding and cutting them off. Lightly equipped opposing defenders will be pierced and surrounded in their pockets by fast and irresistible armored thrusts. The supply lines of surrounded defenders will be cut and they can only expect defeat.

This view of land warfare is why the British Army still tragically persists in trying to organize itself into a heavy armored force similar to the one General Smith commanded in 1991. Another British general, a recent leader of the army, said your correspondent that it is because “you must have a good armyLewis”.

The Russian army is what the British army wants to be

The Battle of Ukraine has shown very clearly that the view of land warfare that “tanks dominate” is simply not true.

Russia’s invading forces were pretty much exactly what the British Army wanted to be. They had plenty of tanks, and their tanks were much more modern than the outnumbered Ukrainians, often a generation older. They had modern armored fighting vehicles for their infantry and plenty of self-propelled heavy artillery.

The Russians had also faced one of the sad realities of heavy armored forces. It is a reliable rule of thumb that even in good armies less than half of any given armored force will actually have working gear and be combat capable.

In 1991, the British Army theoretically had several armored divisions. Sending just one to the Gulf War should have been easy. In fact, however, General Smith tells us: “In the Gulf…I had all the up-to-date tanks of the British Army…I was also given almost all the tank engines in the inventory . The rest of the army had been stripped of its equipment.

The modern Russian military has dealt with this issue similarly by going into its brigades, which theoretically have multiple battalions, and taking all their best weapons, vehicles and soldiers to produce a single Battalion Tactical Group (BTG). Russia’s invading forces are made up of mostly these BTGs, much like Smith’s force in 1991 had all the decent equipment and spare parts of the British Army at the time.

Ukrainian tanks are few and mostly old. The Ukrainian infantry has old armored vehicles, or just trucks and vans in many cases. Ukrainian artillery during the invasion of Russia was scarce and often consisted of unprotected towed guns rather than armored self-propelled guns.

The Ukrainian front line troops were tough, mostly hardened Donbass veterans: but the Russian BTGs are also staffed with their best. The BTG are mainly made up of the new class of professional Russian soldiers “kontraktniki”. Short-lived conscripts who did not want to were mostly left behind in the units that were stripped to create the BTGs.

The invasion should have been a military picnic for the Russians, then, even without a victory in the sky. But that was not the case.

The elite, heavily armed and armored BTGs failed to even encircle Kharkiv just across the border, let alone Kyiv. They have withdrawn from both objectives and are only making the slowest and most painful progress in the southeast. They suffer terrible losses. Their mighty Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) were reduced to wreckage set ablaze in large numbers.

You don’t need a tank to beat a tank

This is very strange, as Western soldiers – including many British Army officers – have insisted for decades that the only thing worth sending against a modern MBT is an equally modern. The only weapon capable of reliably piercing the extremely tough armor of a MBT, we have long been told, is a specialized cannon, piercing heavy armor, firing hypervelocity penetrators. The only way to bring this gun into combat is to put it in a tank.

Armored soldiers will reluctantly admit that there are also shaped-charge explosive warheads, which can be placed on fairly small rockets and missiles: small enough for a soldier to carry and fire from the shoulder, or to be fired by drones, for example. But these things are not serious concerns, say the tank soldiers. The Russians have long used “explosive reactive armour”: this is a plate of explosive mounted on the outside of the tank that detonates when hit by a shaped charge warhead, disrupting the focused explosion of the warhead and rendering it harmless. .

That’s what the funny blocks stuck all over Russian tanks are. These blocks supposedly mean that the tank remains invincible and unstoppable by anything else on the battlefield except another tank.

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This notice was published: 2022-05-29 05:00:00

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