A Ukrainian army drone crew used three cheap Chinese drones rigged with explosives to take out a $4.5 million Russian T-90 tank, a dramatic Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) combat video made public on Monday showed.
Operators serving with the AFU’s 3rd Assault Brigade reportedly used $500 civilian quadcopters in the strikes taking place in the eastern Bakhmut sector of the fighting front. The one-minute, edited video is undated but according to 3rd Brigade statements the engagement took place in early August.
The video starts with images of a Russian T-90A tank firing its cannon at Ukrainian positions, and then being struck in the relatively thinly armored rear section of its turret. An operator is shown claiming the weapon hit the even more vulnerable rear engine deck of the tank. White smoke pours from the engine section following the strike.
Three $500 FPV drones damaged a modernized T-90A valued around $4.5 million near Bakhmut.— Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) September 11, 2023
Fighters from the 3rd Assault Brigade's "Wings" and "ASGARD" units shot this video to show you how it’s done. pic.twitter.com/2tbSrMJcrr
A second section of the video shows a more powerful strike on the rear left quarter of the stationary tank’s turret, with a fireball and chunks of equipment strapped onto the vehicle thrown more than ten meters into the air from the explosion.
Enthused drone operators, apparently working from an underground control center, are shown using vulgar language as they view the damage on a live feed.
The tank, smoking heavily, is shown driving at least two kilometers before stopping in a small, wooded area with little overhead cover where the crew jumps out of the T-90 and runs into the trees.
The video credits operators from Asgard, an independent drone section working with the 3rd Brigade in recent weeks, for landing a final killing strike on the back side of the now-abandoned tank. A video text claims the tank was “reduced to scrap.”
According to official Ukrainian army estimates, Russia since its Feb. 2022 assault on Ukraine has lost 4,650 tanks to all causes. At the outset of the war military analysts generally estimated the Russian military had about 3,300 main battle tanks of late Cold War or early 2000s vintage assigned to combat units, and somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 in storage.
According to the independent analytical group Oryx, Russian use of the expensive-to-produce T-90 tank has been limited. A total of 79 T-90 tanks of various modifications have been confirmed destroyed or captured by the AFU, the most recent Oryx update on Russian tank losses said.
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