As the war in Ukraine continues to claim lives across the country, the destruction of about 10 percent of Russian tanks by Ukrainian troops has brought tanks back into the spotlight.
While some experts say that the era of tanks is slowly coming to an end, there are also those who say that this is due to Russia’s critical mistake, because the Ukrainian army, equipped with portable anti-tank missiles such as the American Javelin and the British NLAW (Next Generation Light Anti-Tank Gun), has severely damaged Russian forces.
According to Oryx, a military and defense industry publication, Russia lost more than 1,600 vehicles and equipment, including at least 270 tanks, in three weeks of conflict.
This is thought to amount to almost 10 percent of Russia’s active force in the region.
In light of this data, many experts claim that tanks and APCs (armored personnel carriers) are obsolete.
According to Anders Åslund, a former senior member of the Atlantic Council, reveals how warfare has changed.
Saying that tanks and APCs are very expensive, Åslund points out that they can be easily destroyed by various light anti-tank weapons or unmanned aerial vehicles.
But defense industry analyst Nicholas Drummond says it is too early to draw that conclusion.
Drummond, a former British officer, says Russia’s strategic mistakes may have made its tanks clear targets.
According to Drummond, Russian tanks would not have been so vulnerable to portable anti-tank weapons if they had been better and more coordinated supported by infantry, artillery and air power.
Paul Scharre, director of research at the Center for a New American Security, believes that the role of tanks on the battlefield will change in the long run.
According to Scharre, the tanks, which are still today considered the most important element of the ground troops, will participate in sweeping operations that will end the military operation by killing or capturing over time the remaining enemy units.
In other words, tanks will cease to be the main offensive weapon and will become an element that will come into play in the final stage of the conflict.
On the other hand, the Starlink satellites of Elon Musk, owner of the private space company SpaceX, are said to be used by Ukraine’s unmanned aerial vehicles to destroy Russian tanks.
An expert at Aerorozvidka, the Ukrainian military’s special air unit, told British media outlet The Times that it was connected to Musk’s satellite network to allow the military’s weapons to be locked on enemy targets.
Great Britain will remove 1/3 of the tanks
Whether new technologies will end the tank era is unknown, but many armies are taking action to change their tank-centric structure.
In March last year, the UK announced it would also reduce the size of its military as the government shifts its focus to cyber warfare and drones.
In the same statement, it was underlined that a third of the 227 Challenger tanks will be scrapped instead of modernized.
Max Boot of The Washington Post points out that while the US is modernizing the 40-year-old, 80-ton M1A2 Abrams tanks, it is also developing a light tank with unmanned ground vehicles.
Underlining that there is no consensus on whether the tank era is over or not, Boot said, the only thing the sides can agree on is that Russia is misusing its tanks on the battlefield, while Ukraine is taking advantage of its incapacity. of Russia.
Boot pointed out that the real question to ask is not whether armies will have tanks in the future, but what they should look like.
Drawing attention to the US’s Robotic Combat Vehicle program, Boot thinks the idea that tanks should be a family of disparate vehicles, manned and unmanned, working together like a networked pack of wolves, needs to be debated. in the next period.