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Russian tank doctrine evolves to combat modern threats

10 July 2018
Russian tank crews at the Pogonovo training area in Voronezh have demonstrated new tactics resulting from lessons learned in Syria. Source: RIA Novosti/Andrey Stanavov

Russian tank forces have revealed details of new tank tactics during a battalion tactical exercise held in Voronezh, state news agency RIA Novosti reported on 4 July.

The development indicates that tanks will continue to provide firepower in the future battlespace.

Elements of the 20th Guards Army from the Western Military District demonstrated a series of armoured warfare drills designed to mitigate the threat of anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), which have plagued main battle tanks in recent deployments.

The drills focused on constant movement so that the tanks present a very brief window for return fire, too short for accurate missile fire, enabling the tanks to fire on enemy positions.

Describing the first tactic, “tank carousel”, tank company commander Captain Roman Schegolev said, “There can be three, six, nine or more vehicles. They continuously travel in a circle – one fires, the other moves to the rear and reloads, the third prepares to enter the position.”

The tank carousel allows the unit to apply constant pressure on suspected enemy positions until they receive return fire, at which point the type of weapon is identified and relayed to pre-positioned “sniper tanks” to conduct an engagement.

The conflict in Syria has shown that guerrilla forces often have the upper hand in choosing the location of a battle. The “Syrian shaft” has been developed to provide defence against vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and ATGMs.

It is essentially a super-sized version of a castle parapet with firing ports carved into a pre-built barrier. The tanks wait behind the parapet and only move to the firing ports to engage enemy targets before quickly relocating. Schegolev claims, “One tank platoon can achieve such a high intensity of fire that the enemy will be sure at least a battalion is working against it.”

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