Russian T-72B3 tanks to defend Kuril Islands against amphibious assault and small warships

According to information published by the Russian press agency TASS on November 5, 2020, the defense of the Kuril Islands will be reinforced with T-72B3 main battle tanks. They are modern combat vehicles in the Russian armed forces. The tanks will defend the Kuril coast, destroy amphibious assault and small warships, the Izvestia daily writes.
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Russian army T-72B3 main battle tank. (Picture source Army Recognition)

Defense Ministry sources said complete rearmament and training will take one-two years. The first tanks have been already delivered. The crews trained on simulators in summer and tested the tanks in autumn. T-72B3 drivers competed in cross-country terrain. They had to overcome minefields, a treadway bridge, antitank ditches, ascends and descends. The track was six kilometers long. All the crews coped with the missions.

“T-72B3 is a modern vehicle. It has a more powerful engine, a heat imager, improved fire controls and communications, and additional protection. The troops in the islands will increase the firepower. The new hardware is to support the units in fighting amphibious assault,” expert Alexey Khlopotov said.

The 68th army corps headquartered in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is in charge of the defense of Sakhalin and Kurile Islands. Units of the 18th artillery division are deployed in Kurile Islands. The formation comprises a tank battalion. There are tank units also in artillery regiments.

Mobile armor is necessary to defend Kurile Islands, expert Viktor Murakhovsky said. “Tanks are a universal weapon on the battlefield. They can destroy any protected target in direct visibility. It is no problem to fire at warships from the coast. A warship or a boat are a big target against usual ones for a tank. T-72B3 are armed with sub-caliber, fragmentation and cumulative projectiles,” he said.

Stationary weapons protect specific directions and cannot defend the whole coast, he added. “A mobile armored fist can operate in any part of the coast and reinforce the defense. Together with motorized rifles and air defense the tanks can push an amphibious assault back to the sea. T-72B3 is a modern tank with improved characteristics. Its firepower, protection and controls are much better than T-72B has,” Murakhovsky said.

Russia has been reinforcing the defense of Kurile Islands of late. The units received Orlan-10 drones which properly performed in Syria. Drones were for the first time engaged in Kurile Islands in 2015 during an exercise to repel an amphibious assault. Granat-1, Granat-4, Zastava drones engaged in reconnaissance and adjusted fire. The Kurile missions of drones have expanded since then. They now operate as scouts and pointers for Bal and Bastion coastal launchers, the Izvestia said.

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Russian army T-72B3 with a new armor package. (Picture source Army Recognition)

The T-72B3 is a development of the standard Russian-made T-72B series currently in service in the Russian army. The T-72B3 version was introduced in 2010 and considered as a third-generation of Russian main battle tank. The T-72B3 has significantly improved its combat characteristics with more firepower, protection, mobility and command controllability.

The main armament of the T-72B3 is a 125mm 2A46M-5 smoothbore gun fitted with a light-alloy thermal sleeve and a bore evacuator. The tank is fitted with a carousel automatic loader mounted on the turret floor and also on the rear wall of the turret. The tank carries a total of 38 rounds including 22 ready use projectiles in the carousel.

The guided weapon system for the gunner and commander provides the tank to fire laser-guided missile 9M119 AT-11 `Svir' or 9M119M Refleks at a maximum range of 5,000 m in the daytime and night.

The conventional armour of the turret is upgraded with Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armor. Kontakt-5 is a type of third-generation explosive reactive armour (ERA) able to defeat modern armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS) rounds

The T-72B3 is motorized with a V-84-1 diesel engine, developing 840 hp. coupled to a hydraulically assisted transmission with 7 forward and 1 reverse gears. The T-72B3 can run at a maximum road speed of 70 km/h with a maximum cruising range of 500 km