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Russian Forces Attempt to Capture Ukrainian Strv 122A Main Battle Tank

Russian forces have unsuccessfully attempted to evacuate a damaged Strv 122A, a modern main battle tank of the Ukrainian forces. This event highlights the intense struggle for military assets and technology in the region, underlining the crucial importance of preventing the transfer of Western technology into Russian hands through the capture of such equipment.
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Russian forces have unsuccessfully attempted to evacuate a damaged Strv 122A of the Ukrainian forces. (Picture source: Open source information)

Sweden sent 10 Stridsvagn 122 tanks to Ukraine, with the decision announced on the anniversary of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, on February 24, 2023. The tanks, manned by Ukrainian crews trained in Sweden, are now active on the battlefield in Ukraine​​.

The Strv 122A, a Swedish modification of the German Leopard 2A5 main battle tank, represents the pinnacle of modern armored warfare technology. Jointly produced by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Land Systems Hägglunds AB between 1994 and 2002, the tank features advanced composite armor incorporating high-hardness steel, tungsten, and ceramic components. Its primary armament, a Rheinmetall L44 120 mm smoothbore gun, combined with secondary armament including 7.62×51mm NATO machine guns and GALIX smoke grenade launchers, makes it a formidable force on the battlefield. Powered by a V-12 twin-turbo diesel engine MTU MB 873 Ka-501, the Strv 122A can reach speeds of up to 68 km/h and has a range of 550 km, thanks to its 1,200-liter fuel capacity.

The recent Russian attempt to capture and evacuate a damaged Strv 122A reveals a strategic objective not only of potentially reverse-engineering Western technology but also of using such equipment for propaganda purposes. The importance of this tank, deployed by the 21st Mechanized Brigade of the Ukrainian army in the defense of Eastern Ukraine, cannot be understated. With its advanced armor and firepower, the Strv 122A is a key asset for the Ukrainian forces in resisting the invasion.

A Russian drone targeted a Strv 122A, forcing its crew to abandon the damaged tank. Russian engineers quickly moved to recover the tank using BREM recovery vehicles. However, their efforts were thwarted by Ukrainian drone operators of the 3rd Assault Brigade, who targeted the Russian recovery vehicles and stopped the evacuation process halfway through. This operation not only prevented the Russians from acquiring the tank but also highlighted the risks and complexities involved in recovering such valuable assets in a highly contested environment.

The evacuation attempt and its failure underscore a broader strategic concern: the imperative to prevent the capture and reverse engineering of Western military technologies by adversary forces. The Strv 122A, with its advanced design and capabilities, represents a significant interest for Russian forces eager to unravel its technological secrets. The loss or capture of such equipment could potentially erode the technological advantage that Western and Allied forces maintain over adversaries.

Russia has recently shown footage of capturing German-made Leopard 2A6 tanks and U.S.-made Bradley Fighting Vehicles during battles with Ukrainian forces in the Zaporizhzhia region. The video was released by Russia's Defence Ministry, the exact location and date of capture couldn't be independently verified.

It should be noted, however, that Russian forces have managed to destroy a Ukrainian Strv 122 tank with a missile strike during an offensive on Russian positions in Orlyanske. While Russian forces have not yet captured a Strv 122A, they will continue to attempt to capture more Western material to study its design and possibly integrate certain technologies into their future main battle tanks.


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