Now Russia is also adding lower optics to its T-80 tanks

Now Russia is also adding lower optics to its T-80 tanks

We already knew that the Russian army, in a desperate effort to compensate for its losses in Ukraine, was removing old T-72 tanks from storage, added 1970s style optics and ship them forward. Probably to blow himself up.

Now it looks like the Russians are giving the same treatment to their slightly better T-80 tanks. T-80 start to appear with the same obsolete 1PN96MT-02 thermal gunner sights that could disadvantage the “war emergency” T-72s in Ukraine.

Russia’s nearly year-long war against Ukraine has not been kind to the Russian armored corps. The Kremlin lost about 1,600 tanks in Ukraine, of which more than 500 were abandoned by Russian troops and later captured by the Ukrainians.

That’s three times as many tanks as the Ukrainian army lost.

While it is true that Russia has stored some 10,000 old tanks, T-62s, T-72s and T-80s, many have remained outside, exposed to the elements and looters, for decades. Their rubber seals are brittle. Their electronics have corroded. Their perspective is cloudy.

It is unknown how many stored tanks are recoverable. He East clear that when the Kremlin first dipped into its tank reserves last spring, it initially favored the T-62s of the 1970s, which lack delicate subsystems and therefore may have required less remanufacturing than, say, a late 1980s T-72 or T-80.

Which is not to say that the 40-ton, four-person T-62 with its simple steel armor and 115-millimeter gun is a good tank. It’s not. There is no evidence of any dozens of T-62s that the Russian army has shipped to southern Ukraine any difference in last year’s brutal campaign in this region. And the Ukrainians captured enough T-62s form your own battalion with aging vats.

The best thing that can be said about the emergency T-62s is that they bought the Kremlin time to restore surplus T-72s and T-80s. These latter tanks have better armor than the T-62, plus they have 125mm main guns and autoloaders that reduce their crews to three.

Obviously, the optics were a problem with the stored T-72s and T-80s. After decades, the gunner’s sights had to be replaced. But it is obvious that Russia is struggling to stock up on modern optics.

Many emergency T-62s went into battle with 1PN96MT-02 analog thermal sights in the gunner’s position. To spot a 1PN96MT-02, look for a small square window almost flush with the top left of the tank’s turret.

The 1PN96MT-02 would have been state of the art…in the 1970’s. It allows a skilled gunner to engage a target up to two miles away. That’s just over half the maximum range of the new Sonsa-U digital sight that equips the latest T-90 tanks, as well as some upgraded T-80s and T-72s.

The problem with the Sosna-U is that it includes high-quality French components that Russian industry can’t seem to replicate and Russia can’t legally import due to sanctions imposed by France after Russian troops invaded Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014.

The Russian military seems to reserve most of its valuable Sosna-Us for its best new T-90s. Yes, a few refurbished T-80s and T-72s are getting the digital optics as well, but it seems that many, perhaps most, long-stocked tanks are getting much lower performance 1PN96MT-02 optics, instead.

This is a problem for Russian tankers. They are trapped in a technological time warp, stretching back to the 1970s just as their enemies – the Ukrainian tankers – were re-equipping with Western tank designs including the British Challenger 2, German Leopard 2 and M-1 American. .

All three western tanks have excellent day and night optics that see farther, with greater accuracy, than the 1PN96MT-02 – and should at least match the Sosna-U’s specs. A Ukrainian Challenger 2 should be able to fire on a Russian war reserve T-80 even before the T-80 crew sees the Challenger 2.

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