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A New Russian ‘Turtle Tank’ Has Emerged On The Battlefield

In the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, a new development has emerged on the battlefield: the Russian “turtle tank.” These tanks are modified with shed-like metal covers on top to protect against drone attacks, particularly from highly maneuverable FPV kamikaze types.

In the past week, three of these field-modified tanks have appeared, with the latest iteration featuring the largest covering seen to date. Equipped with an omni-directional counter-drone electronic warfare jammer with eight antennas, this design has been increasingly observed on Russian tanks and armored vehicles.

The newest turtle tank was reportedly involved in an attack near Krasnohorivka in eastern Donetsk, where the first Russian tank configured in this manner was spotted. The initial example was destroyed by Ukrainian forces, prompting the emergence of subsequent iterations. It’s unclear which specific tanks serve as the basis for these conversions, although the first one may have been a T-72 variant.

The turtle tanks, while offering protection against drones, present limitations such as reduced turret traverse and situational awareness for the crew, as well as decreased mobility due to their weight and structure. However, they signify the rapid cycle of battlefield innovation, particularly in response to drone threats.

The inclusion of an electronic warfare jammer on the latest turtle tank adds an additional layer of protection against Ukrainian drones, with its elevated position providing an unobstructed field of view. These tanks are utilized to lead armored assaults on Ukrainian positions, including through minefields, making them prime targets.

Russian forces have increasingly employed electronic warfare jammers on their vehicles to disrupt drone operations. Ukrainian forces also utilize vehicle-mounted jammers to counter Russian drones, although they face challenges due to power requirements and sporadic usage.

The conflict in Ukraine underscores the critical role of drones in modern warfare, especially given the significant slowing of foreign military aid to Ukraine. Without adequate support, Ukraine faces shortages of critical materiel, exacerbating the disparity in firepower between Ukrainian and Russian forces.

U.S. Army Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli warns of the dire consequences of inadequate aid, emphasizing the urgent need for assistance to prevent a collapse of Ukraine’s front-line positions. Meanwhile, Russian forces exploit the situation, making gains with the deployment of turtle tanks and electronic jammers in their offensive operations against Ukrainian forces.

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