Armor: Where Have All The Red Army Tanks Gone?

Archives

September 28, 2007: At the end of the Cold War, Russia had about 53,000 tanks in service (about 40 percent of them relics from the 1950s, or earlier). Now there are only about 12,000, and less than ten percent of them are modern. Back in 1991, about half of the tanks were of questionable serviceability and usefulness, but that still left the Russians with 25,000 modern tanks, ready to roll west. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, 80 percent of the troops were sent home, and, in the next decade, only a few hundred new tanks were purchased. Most of those 50,000 tanks ended up as scrap.

The current tank fleet has about 500 T-90s and T80s (VIDEO). These are roughly equal to early model U.S. M-1s. Most of the current Russian tanks are late model T-72s, some of them upgraded with excellent electronics (fire controls systems and thermal sights). Of the 12,000 tanks the Russian army says it has in inventory, only a few thousand are ready to roll, and go into combat. In effect, Russia has lost use of some 90 percent of its tanks since 1991. Back then, nearly all those 50,000 were assigned to a combat division. OK, most of those were reserve divisions, but if most of the reservists showed up in wartime, they would know how to get their tanks operational. That reserve system collapsed along with the Soviet Union, so now, the Russians could get about 5,000 tanks operational on short notice. That's a big drop from the 1980s.

 

Article Archive

Armor: Current 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad

Help Keep Us Alive!

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close