The Defense Ministry has begun re-equipping the military units of the Kaliningrad region with one of the most powerful Russian T-72B3M tanks, Izvestia sources in the military department said. The new vehicles have improved armor, they are equipped with missiles, they can effectively fight both manpower and armored vehicles, as well as landing ships and even helicopters of a potential enemy. Experts note that strengthening the defense of the exclave could be a response to the expansion of NATO forces in the region, as well as to the deployment of US medium-range weapons in Europe.
Rearmament on the T-72B3M awaits tank battalions of the 7th motorized rifle regiment and the 79th separate brigade. The first batch of new combat vehicles has already been delivered to the region, and the re-equipment is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021, sources in the Ministry of Defense told Izvestia. They will replace the outdated modification of the T-72B1, created in Soviet times.
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This year, 30 T-72B3M tanks with improved combat characteristics entered service with the motorized rifle unit of the Baltic Fleet army corps stationed in the Kaliningrad region. All cars that arrived in the region left the assembly line of Uralvagonzavod in 2019.
The delivery of other heavy weapons to the Russian exclave is continuing for the planned replacement of outdated systems in the 11th Army Corps. Izvestia has already reported that long-range multiple launch rocket systems “Smerch” were delivered there this year, and in the past they have strengthened the air defense of the army group with new air defense systems “Tor-M2”.
“The modernized T-72B3Ms are distinguished by increased security, firepower, and most importantly, by modern means of communication and the ability to integrate into the tactical echelon control system,” military expert Viktor Murakhovsky explained to Izvestia. – In general, this allows us to increase the strike capabilities and enhance the effectiveness of the defense of the Kaliningrad Special Region, for which the Baltic Fleet and the 11th Army Corps are responsible. In connection with the possible deployment of medium-range missiles by the Americans in Europe, it is possible that these new strike weapons will appear near Kaliningrad.
Tanks are one of the key elements of the coastal and marines’ weapon systems. Dynamic protection on modifications of the T-72B3M has advanced capabilities. Its area and reliability have been increased, including in side projections, the expert added.
The active rearmament of military units located in the Kaliningrad region surrounded by NATO countries began after the cooling of relations between Russia and the West. The Kaliningrad Defense Region, created in 1998, is responsible for the defense of the region.
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After the reforms begun in 2009 under Anatoly Serdyukov, the number of weapons in the region was drastically reduced. More than 800 tanks were removed from the region, which were in storage. New equipment, with the exception of a few ships, has not been supplied here since the 90s of the last century. Only in 2013 began the rearmament of air defense units to the latest S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile systems, and then to Pantsir-S. A large-scale update of other types of troops started at the end of 2016.
The coastal defense missile regiment was re-equipped with modern Bastion complexes. Naval aviation in the Kaliningrad region receives Su-30SM multipurpose fighters. Included in its composition and light drones “Orlan-10”, as well as medium reconnaissance “Outposts”. The crews were regularly involved in the operation in Syria, gaining real combat experience.
The European Union and NATO countries have repeatedly expressed concern about the ongoing modernization. Particular nervousness was caused by the rearmament of the 152nd missile brigade from the Tochka-U operational-tactical missiles to the Iskander-M. As a result, its range increased from 120 to 500 km, and the number of missiles in one salvo doubled. Within the radius of action of these complexes were the objects of the US strategic anti-missile defense, located in Poland.
“The creation of a grouping on the distant western borders is quite consistent with the level of opposition that can be expected,” Colonel Vladimir Anokhin, vice-president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, told Izvestia. – The T-72B3M meets all modern requirements and poses a serious threat to the defense lines in the Baltic States and Poland. Nothing extra. These tanks are able to cool the head of any potential aggressor.
Constant modernization allows the well-deserved T-72 to remain competitive to this day. The T-72B3M version created in 2016 can be easily distinguished from the cumulative missiles by the set of additional armor. The tanks are equipped with reactive armor “Relikt”. Lattice screens have been added to the sides and stern. In front, you can mount removable containers with “soft” anti-cumulative screens for battles in the city. The changes were made after studying the experience of modern armed conflicts.
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According to the Ministry of Defense, with additional armor from cumulative ammunition, the turret’s forehead became equivalent to a meter of steel armor, and the hull’s forehead – 600 mm of armor.
The tank’s own armament has also been strengthened. On this modification, the 2A46M-5-01 gun is installed: it is more accurate and longer-range than the previous version, and can also use new elongated projectiles with increased armor penetration. Also, the vehicle is equipped with a new multi-channel gunner’s sight “Sosna-U”, equipped with a modern thermal imager for night battles.
The best armored tank was heavier up to 46 tons. In order not to reduce mobility, it was equipped with a reinforced V92S2F engine with a capacity of 1130 horsepower (almost 300 hp more than that of the T-72B) and an enhanced transmission. On a paved road, this allows the car to accelerate to 65 km / h, and on a dirt road – up to 45 km / h.
In addition, in the latest modification of the tank, the driver has a digital display in front of his eyes, on which you can display an image not only from observation devices, but also from a rear-view camera.