Armor: Turtle Tanks Take on Mines and FPV UAVs


June 4, 2024: In April the Russian forces in Ukraine were seen operating modified tanks called Turtle Tanks, to create a vehicle route that is clear of landmines. Since April several more of these Turtle Tanks have been spotted. These tanks got their name because of the steel screens mounted on the sides and top of a T-72 tank. These screens protected the tank from the FPV (First Person View) quadcopters that are equipped with explosives, or large enough to carry explosives that can be dropped on the command of the operator. The FPV operator wears a viewing device over his eyes where he can see what the video camera on the quadcopter or UAV sees.

Some Turtle Tanks also push a mine roller in front of them that detonates mines. The metal roller is not damaged. If the tank rolled over one of those mines the tracklaying mechanism would be damaged and unable to keep the tank moving. Many T-72s don’t push a mine roller but keep all their normal features. All those anti-UAV screens limit use of that tank's 125mm main gun and some of the machine-guns.

In addition to the screens to defeat the FPV UAV attacks, there is also slat armor on the sides to defeat shaped charge warheads, especially those on the RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) systems used by Russian and Ukrainian infantry.

The FPV UAVs are a major threat to tanks and infantry as well. Ukraine has taken the lead in developing and building these UAVs and is planning to build a million UAVs in 2024. While Russian Turtle Tanks can clear a path through minefields, it can’t do much about the UAVs. Russia and Ukraine both use a lot of electronic jammers that will, if they use the right frequency, disrupt the control signal used to fly the UAVs to their targets. Special UAVs home in on the jamming signal and destroy the jammer. The jammers are relatively cheap and have short ranges. Ukraine has recognized the importance of UAVs and established a Drone Force as a separate branch of the military alongside the Army, Air Force and Navy. The Ukrainian Navy has sunk over a third of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and driven the rest of the ships to distant ports, far from Crimea and the main Ukrainian export port of Odessa. The Ukrainian “fleet” consists of USVs (Unmanned Surface Vessels), a few UUS (Unmanned Underwater Vessels) as well as air and ground launched missiles and torpedoes launched from launchers on the coast.

Ukraine has Americans, German, French and British tanks as well as some of the same models Russia uses. That’s because until 1991 Russia and Ukraine were both part of the Soviet Union.




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