Heavy tank losses by the Russian Army in the Ukraine may be forcing it to draw ever older tanks from its stores.
After the sending of the already obsolete T-62 to the Kherson front in October 2022, now Russia would be taking a new step by resorting to more outdated tanks, specifically tanks T-54 and T-55 from the 1950s. A video posted Wednesday by a Russian Twitter account shows such tanks being transported on a train, possibly from their warehouses in eastern Russia and bound for the front lines in Ukraine. The original video was published in vertical format, I have rotated it 270º to make it look better:
About the date these images were taken, that Russian account has pointed out that several of the flatcars that transport the tanks are dated 2022, so they are new wagons (in fact, the signs are as if freshly painted and with hardly any traces of dirt, as would happen with an older wagon).
Before that video was released, a Russian OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) group, the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), published a detailed report yesterday showing photos of T-54 and T-55 tanks being transported by train. Those photos seem to correspond to the train we saw in the video.
"The CIT team has obtained photographs of a train transporting military vehicles from Russia’s Far East. We identified the vehicles as Soviet-era T-54/55 series tanks: T-54s as well as tanks which may be either late T-54 or T-55 tanks were both on that train", the aforementioned Russian OSINT group points out.
The Russian OSINT group adds: "the filmed train has recently departed from the town of Arsenyev, Primorsky", a region of eastern Russia that borders North Korea and China. Conflict Intelligence Team notes that the 1295 Central Tank Storage and Repair Base is located there. "We had already documented shipments of military vehicles from that base: for example, in October, in Yekaterinburg, a train carrying T-62M(V) tanks was captured on video, and the point of departure of the train was also Arsenyev. Note that deployment and use of T-62 tanks by the Russian Armed Forces during the current invasion has been documented since the summer of 2022, but it is the first recorded instance of T-54/55 tanks withdrawal from storage."
"We examined publicly available archive photographs of the 1295th Base and found out that, in addition to relatively modern T-80BV and T-72B tanks, it also stored a significant amount of T-62M(V) tanks. We also managed to find photographs of the T-55 and T-54 tanks", they point out from CIT.
CIT also indicates the following: "we analyzed satellite images of the 1295th Base and established that between June and November 2022, at least 191 tanks had left the base (most likely T-62s). In reality, this number can be much higher, since the most combat-ready vehicles, as a rule, are stored in special hangars, and it is impossible to spot their shipment based on satellite imagery."
CIT recalls that "the earliest T-54 series tanks were adopted by the Soviet Army back in the mid-to-late 1940s, and the T-55 series entered service in 1958", noting that "even an outdated tank is more useful than no tank at all, but we consider the lack of rangefinders and ballistic computers (not to mention fire control systems) to be the key disadvantages of these series, as well as primitive sights and (in T-54s) an inferior gun stabilization system."
"We find it difficult to determine the possible uses of these tanks", the Russian OSINT group acknowledges , "but in any case, along with the removal of BTR-50 armored personnel carriers from storage and the modification of MT-LB multi-purpose AFVs with naval anti-aircraft guns, this clearly indicates severe issues with military vehicle supply in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation."
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