The Russians are modernizing hundreds of 1960’s-era T-62 tanks, for multiple reasons


The War Zone reports:

The Russian military is reportedly set to receive some 800 refurbished and possibly upgraded T-62 tanks in the next three years to try to help make up for severe losses it has already sustained in its ongoing all-out invasion of Ukraine. Many of the nearly antique T-62s have already been pulled out of deep storage and sent to Ukraine, where they have shown to be of debatable utility.

If the situation is as it is reported to be, the decision to reactivate hundreds of these remarkably old Cold War-era tanks offers fresh evidence that western sanctions and other factors are hobbling Russia’s arms industry. It also provides more evidence as to the poor state of Russia’s more advanced armor, with many hundreds of tanks destroyed, damaged, or captured and others sidelined due to being worn out or without high-tech replacement parts after nearly nine months of continuous combat.

. . .

Gurulyov reportedly said that the T-62s in question would be modernized with new thermal and night vision optics and additional armor and other defensive features, particularly to help protect against anti-tank guided missiles like the U.S.-made Javelin. He does not appear to have provided any granular specifics about these planned upgrades. There was no mention of updating the tank’s armament, which consists of a 115mm main gun, a co-axial 7.62x54mm machine gun, and a 12.7mm machine gun on top of the turret.

Russia certainly has many hundreds of T-62s in storage that it inherited from the Soviet Union, the vast majority of which are understood to be T-62M subtypes. The first T-62s entered Soviet service in 1961. In the 1980s, the Soviets had put thousands of these tanks through a broad modernization program that included adding more powerful engines, upgraded fire control systems, and new defenses.

. . .

It is worth noting that T-62s, while thoroughly obsolete for modern tank-on-tank combat, could still potentially provide valuable armored fire support assets for engaging lighter armored and unarmored vehicles, fortifications, and troops in the open.

There’s more at the link.

The article speculates that the large-scale refurbishment of T-62’s is due to Russia’s inability to source parts (particularly electronics) to upgrade or produce more of its T-64‘s, T-72‘s, T-80‘s, T-90‘s and the new T-14 Armata tanks, which are not yet in full production.  That’s probably quite true, along with most of the other observations by the author.

However, I suspect there’s another reason that makes the T-62, despite its age, a very desirable battlefield asset for the Russian army.  You see, it’s the last generation of Soviet tank that was not equipped with an autoloader.  The autoloaders on subsequent generations of tanks proved to be a major weakness in their design.  Not only were they rumored to occasionally attempt to load a member of the tank’s crew into the breech, instead of a round of ammunition (which was alleged to be the source of the Red Army Choir’s soprano section!), but the autoloaders required more than a score of rounds and their propellant charges to be exposed in a sort of carousel beneath the turret.  If an enemy shell or missile penetrated the turret, the rounds in the carousel would be at grave risk of detonating or catching fire.  This would kill most of the crew, and could even blow the turret right off the tank.  (This became known as the jack-in-the-box effect.)

During the 1970’s and 1980’s, the T-72 and its siblings performed reasonably well against Western tanks and missiles, because almost all of the latter were designed to attack the side of the turret or hull.  However, with the advent of smart weapons, particularly top-attack missiles, during the past three decades, the T-series tanks proved very vulnerable indeed.  The armor on top of a tank (including the top of its turret) is thinner than on the sides, to save weight (and because until recently, few weapons were capable of targeting that area).  However, once top-attack weapons became common, that was exposed as a deadly flaw.  An explosion penetrating the top of a T-series turret would almost inevitably bore on through to its ammunition carousel, with devastating results.

Here’s a video clip showing a number of T-72’s and other models of Soviet-era tanks being hit by anti-tank weapons.  Note how the exposed carousel rounds detonate or catch fire almost immediately.  If you’re a person of faith, you might want to say a prayer for their crews, because most of them did not get out.  (Ignore the music background track.  I suggest you watch with the sound off.)

I agree that the T-62 is probably unsuitable for modern tank-versus-tank combat in the open field, although in an urban, close-quarters combat environment it might be able to sneak up on other tanks and take them out before they realized it was there.  However, the fact that its ammunition is not exposed, as in later generations of Soviet tanks, means it’s much less likely to burn or explode when hit;  and therefore its crew has a better chance of escaping alive.  For the kind of meat-grinder combat the Russians are facing in Ukraine, that’s a major asset.

Another factor may be that at least some of the thousands of conscripts and former servicemen being called up to serve in the Russian armed forces may have trained on the T-62 and earlier tanks, rather than more modern types.  They’ll be able to get up to speed on the older model much more quickly than they would a newer tank, which has far more bells and whistles.

I have unfond memories of the T-62, having run into it on more than one occasion in Africa in the 1980’s.  It was a pretty effective design for the relatively simple, uncomplicated bush warfare of the time.  South Africa’s Olifant main battle tanks (modernized versions of Centurion tanks, first designed in the mid-1940’s) were able to cope with it.  Despite its obsolescence, I daresay under the right conditions, with a well-trained crew, it could still give a good account of itself.



  1. There are unconfirmed reports that significant numbers of those in storage have been ratted for their copper and anything else that Yuri andIvan can hock on eGay

    When just about everyone above them on the food chain has been enriching themselves from the military budget , it’s hard to blame them.

  2. Standard caveats regarding my lack of expertise on the subject, and reliance on unverified reporting apply, but what I’m hearing is that the Russians do not appear to have much appreciation for the combined-arms tactics that we have long considered normal. Mentions in the article regarding what could be achieved “with a well-trained crew” would have to be extended to include support by well-trained infantry, and led by well-trained officers.

    Given their current state , which includes depletion of at least some of their better units, and the reported stripping of training units to provide more combat personnel, it is doubtful that the troops will be properly trained within the three-year time period for this project.

    I’m wondering how much this is driven by immediate needs in Ukraine…. and how much by the prospect of an army with almost no tanks until new models can be built from scratch

  3. "severe losses"
    Meaning what? 10%, 25%, what?

    Of course, it could not be for adding mobile artillery and to add depth to a defence front. I do not know but, like, give the liberated people of Donbass additional weapons for their defense?

  4. Depends on its mission of course. Used for garrison duty behind the lines perfectly adequate to form the backbone of a defensive militia once Ukraine is crushed. Dug in to turret depth with external observations points it becomes a formidable pill box. Many different uses, against leopards not a chance, but using them that way is foolish.

  5. sanctions work. since the T-62 is old school, it is unaffected by lack of modern tech, there s none in this tank. simple old school diesel engine and manual optics/range finder system.
    the ammo in the T-62 is not under the turret, so no "jack-in-the-box" effect likely. the ammo is INSIDE the turret with the crew, so if it cooks off, the crew is dead an instant sooner than in the T-72s

  6. No Soviet tank has segregated ammunition storage like the Abrams does; they store it wherever it fits, so a penetration by a shaped charge is much, much, more likely to set off ammo than in Western designs.
    Don't forget that Soviet tanks also have multiple fuel tanks inside with the crew that help fuel fires.

    I suspect they are pulling out these T62 tanks because they are the best they've got left.
    As mentioned above, they seem to have forgotten about combined arms, let alone good tactical training, so sending more equipment probably won't do much good.

  7. Leopard 2s also have ammo in the hull, and are as susceptible to catastrophic ordnance as any T-XX.

    T-62 is more conscript-friendly than later tanks.

  8. as others have noted, facing modern tanks, they are at a severe disadvantage

    but if they are instead facing insurgents (with limited or no anti-tank missiles), they will do just fine.

  9. When discussing the Russian (and Chinese) military one must always take into account a level of top to bottom corruption unimaginable in a Western army.

  10. Jonathan H nailed it.
    T-62s are all they have left, and at this point, they'll take anything, but given their total lack of operational art, it's just throwing more logs on the bonfire.

    And in point of fact, they aren't drafting prior service conscripts, they're drafting anything with arms and legs (and even those without them), so none of their new conscripts have any training on anything. They're mostly raw recruits and old men.

    By the time they teach them Tank 101, they'll be fighting at the Ukrainian border, trying to get back into the Donbas, at current course and speed.

    The ones going to the infantry have no boots, just tennis shoes (that should make epic winter on the steppes coming on quite interesting), and they only have AKs for about 1 in 10, based purely on the conscripts' own cell phone videos leaking out of the Rodina.

    Meanwhile, the Ukrainians have captured more arms and ammunition from the latest Russian rout than the total of all arms deliveries into Ukraine to date by the entire West.

    Vlad's troops are in for a long, hard winter, and the smart ones are surrendering immediately upon arrival.

    The consternation this is causing in the minds of those who thought the Russians were 10 feet tall firebreathers is epic and hilarious, and it just keeps getting better.

  11. Time will tell Aesop. The first casualty of war is truth.

    But then again, the "Noble Ukrainians" would never fake cell phone reports or use their own soldiers to play retreating-surrendering Russians, would they?

    Given what the Non-MSN World (AKA OPEC+ and others) are DOING shows the situation isn't quite as fearsome as you describe or the Saudis wouldn't be hiring Russians to replace the American support and Patriots, eh?

    I think the USA is in deeper trouble than MSN admits, and a "Little Controllable War" is the cure the Deep State intends to use. After all nothing like some Patriotic Flag Waving to get AMERICANS to heel and toe the Gov line.

    All Putin needs to do is avoid a nuclear exchange for a few more months and a freezing in the dark Europe will put paid to NATO and US activities as the petrodollar dies.

  12. The Video above opens with the Syrians using MY old weapons system the TOW-2B. They got various rounds for it:

    BGM-71BGM-71E TOW 2A (Extended Prove Reactive Armor Defeating round)

    BGM-71F TOW 2B (Over-The-Top Detonating 'Roof Crasher' Round)

    TOW 2B Aero (Streamlined for increasing range from 3750m to 4500m)

    BGM-71H TOW Bunker Buster (new one, I heard thermobaric, didn't have that when I was in)

    The T-62 works because it just -does-… as everyone else has pointed out, Manual Tech is Simple Tech. Less training needed, less 'stuff' to break. Also, a -very low- profile… short and squat, and honestly, the other tank-on-tank fights they have, it's sufficient in numbers to beat on the Krainian T-64 which is the 62 with an autoloader, and considered the worst of the T variants, to include the venerable T-54/55.

    The reason that the T-72 when they're getting hit 'flare up' is the ammo is two piece. The 'round' and the shell/powder are two separate units, in the open carousel, and when hit, the powder starts burning uproariously cooking anyone who didn't get out right then n then on impact.

    Very rarely do you get the "Pop Top" effect from a TOW… Just from my experience(s)

  13. Warzone isn't an unbiased source.

    They need more tanks, and the T-62s are there. By the thousands.

    As you said, you don't need the latest model tank for infantry support. A 122mm gun firing HE from a platform mostly immune to small arms and light anti-tank gets the job done. Most of the work by Shermans in WWII was done with 75mm HE.

  14. I think it's pretty clear at this point that the Russians are going up against some of our best officers who are now doing the planning and operations for the Ukrainian Army much the way they did during the Serbian War.

  15. My first thought re t62s is that their controls are more mechanical and less electrical/wire — so less susceptible to emps, etc., nuke effects.

    Also, with the west already severely depleting munitions including advanced anti-tank munitions in the Ukraine, by the time these tanks get retrofit their probable threats/counters may be quite different from all possible threats/counters…

    And further t62s would allow for a swarm strategy further depleting the West's munitions, increasing their burn rate.

    Lastly, smaller tanks might be easier to hide in barns, forests, etc., from drone, etc., cost effective counters to a tank swarm…

    So this makes sense if you look long term and under the assumption that Russia is playing chess rather than scrambling. Always best to over-estimate your opposition IME.

  16. Russia helped liberate about 8 million people in a land mass the size or larger than England.

    Who do you believe?

    Some reports vary from 5 to 10 Ukies dead for every 1 Russian/LPR/DNR.

    Strange world we live where the "winning" side keeps begging/supplicating for more free stuff because theirs keep getting destroyed by the "losing" side.

  17. I'm just praying that the District of Criminals doesn't go Full Retard and decide a False Flag "Russian Nuke" is how the Socialist-Democrats stay in power as elections are canceled for the duration of the "War".

    Our Republics worst enemies speak excellent English (and LawFare) and live in but a few wealthy American ZIP codes. A few even live within mere miles of Aesop (Pelosi, etc. cough, cough)

  18. A significant amount of the early Ukrainian response very much WAS small groups of Ukrainians going tank-hunting with whatever they could get their hands on….. and that was before the West was offering anything more than plane tickets. It’s wrong to call them insurgents, because the Russians were neither in control, nor a legitimate government. Also, quite a bit of the “advanced Western weapons” that they were using, were Soviet-era anti-tank weapons designed to combat peer-level tanks to the T62. The media talks about Javelins… but former Soviet-block states like Poland have shipped Soviet-era and domestically-produced anti-tank weapons in very large quantities.

    As any number of observers have commented, it was disorganised, chaotic and sometimes misdirected, but anyone claiming that this was not a popular war of liberation by the Ukrainians, is fooling themselves.
    Anyone claiming that this war is only being supported by the “West”, is likewise fooling themselves….. or being deliberately dishonest.

    You are also fooling yourself if you believe that the Russian media is any more trustworthy than the Western variety. All Russian media is either State-owned, or owned by Putin’s cronies. We can take it for granted that all sides in a war TEND to exaggerate enemy losses, and look for confirmation from third parties . A far better resource may be photo-analysis , and independent groups working on this basis are not only confirming high levels of Russian losses, but showing disproportionately high losses amongst Russia’s more modern variants.

    Correlate that with Russian behaviour.
    – Pulling old tanks out of storage, which is a waste of men and resources if you don’t actually need them.
    – Mobilising 300,000 additional personnel at even greater cost to the economy and reputation of the Government.
    – Using unsuitable resources , such as low-precision weapons against targets requiring high-precision strikes….
    All of these are unlikely if the Russian Federation is not finding itself strapped for weapons and ammunition . It’s a common theme in this conflict, from both sides.

    1. Your comments and timing and Aug 2022 blogger reg date, read like a uke gov't propagandist acct.

      Regardless, what percent of ukraine's pre-invasion soviet anti-tank weaponry remains? Much was wasted on un- or minimally armored vehicles, etc.

      The US is pulling weapons from active duty units and restarting ww2 Era munitions factories. Neither Ukraine nor the west can counter the deep stores and military production capabilities of russia, at least near term. And Europe is shutting down factories due to a lack of energy and materials due to Russia sanctions.

      From what I have seen Russia is using b-team troops and soviet Era munitions as the bulk of its efforts. It's like the US fighting this war w/ the national guard and Vietnam Era weapons…
      To be clear, Russia using old/outdated weapons appears to be deliberate, not desperation.

      Putin has stated from the start that his goal is to destroy ukraine's military. He seems to be accomplishing that as the current burn rate of munitions and casualties is unsustainable.

      Meanwhile, Russia has best troops and equipment in reserve and appears to be setting the stage to at least have the capability of pushing into Poland to have a defensible western border.

      Nevertheless many conscripts are likely to be heading to border defense roles as more experienced troops are redeployed, not immediate front line combat troops.

      Remember that putin is an expert at judo, and I see a lot of echoes in the Ukraine strategy as he looks to win the match/war, not every battle.

      To be clear — I don't want this war to expand or escalate and hope that Russia won't forcibly acquire any territory. And I certainly don't applaud or support putin or russia. But I think reports of russia's imminent defeat in Ukraine at best are false hope if not outright intellectually dishonest and therefor fraudulent.


  19. No autoloader, but how many conscripts are short left-handed bodybuilders, which are needed to fit in the tank and load the gun manually?

  20. Oddly enough Hamsterman they seemed to find enough in the 1980's and farming and industry is still a mainstay of their country. Have you ever been trained in the military? Odd how they can train you to do difficult tasks as part of your MOS. MOS = Military Occupational Specialty just in case you've never served in the US Military.

    I have to laugh about all the "Russian Media" THEY DON'T have any that is allowed in the Western Media system. In case you were not paying attention there is a near total block of ALL Russian Media to the West due to sanctions over the past year.

    You and I are Bathed in Western Media, everything we know about the situation comes nearly direct from American Media. Joe 6 pack doesn't go to RT or Saker or other "alternative" Websites.

    5 interrelated-intermarried families own all of American media. All shockingly are liberals and serious players in the Democratic politics. SOME call them the Kingmakers.

    I am still praying the District of Criminals doesn't get us nuked to stay in power.

  21. Michael.

    YOU may be bathed in a minority-owned Western Media, but it’s not clever to assume that everyone else is.
    Keep in mind that the more reflexively you conclude that EVERYTHING from a particular source must be wring, the more you permit them to lead you by the nose.
    Stick to known principles.
    Compare sources.
    Look for consistency.

    It’s kind of sad watching an American become so fixated on US domestic politics, that he will deny the right of a free people to fight a popular war of independence against a Dictator and oath-breaker.

  22. PeterW take a good look in the mirror.

    Is English your second language? Nothing minority owned about American Media.

    I have a trusted neighbor who was a military Russian Linguist, His wife a German linguist. Both spent a fair bit of time during the cold war listening in. I have a fair understanding of both German and Russian myself.

    So, I read news reports in their languages. I compare and contrast. I accept nothing I cannot verify.

    I also study photos as a hobby, has been interesting to find so many Ukrainian "Victory" photos sent from the Ukrainian Front actually stock photos from Syria.

    So, just how well do you trust the Biden folks to provide energy, food and security for your country?

    The first casualty in war is the truth.

  23. OMG who listens to Aesop he is without reasoning or facts, nurse with a cold war grudge. Russia will crush the ukes, Putin tried to placate the west with his surgical war and that is over, we shall see quite soon how the ukes do, I suspect you have a few contractor friends over there, get them out. But at least the Christian Russians are out of missiles right..

    BGE they nuked your site, hope your back up soon and rescue your Gdaughter soon, best wishes bro.

  24. Michael…
    You are not giving me any confidence at all in your reading and comprehension.
    You have stated clearly that your media is owned by a very, very small minority…. but when I restate that fact, you say I’m wrong.
    Not smart.

    You claim to believe nothing that you can’t verify, and then make claims on conspiracy theories based on partial evidence.
    Ironic that you talk about “truth being the first casualty in war”, then claim to know the truth, yourself.

    I’m going back to first principles.
    We have a situation in which a large and apparently powerful nation invades a smaller one.
    That same large nation has a history of wars of aggression and denial of human rights.

    Secondly, the invaders are not behaving like a nation that is winning. They are behaving in a way consistent with a nation that is struggling, both on the battlefield and at home. Not only can you “not verify” a valid rebuttal of that observation, but you are objecting to it, so far, on the flimsiest of ground.

    Aaaaaand you can drop the straw-man foolery. It’s dishonest.
    I *don’t* depend on Biden to do anything except mind his own self-interest… The world doesn’t revolve around Dopey-Joe despite your apparent belief otherwise. America with its act together is beneficial beyond your borders, and I hope that you manage to get your shit together. That’s partly because I know some very fine Americans and wish them well.

  25. Mr Unkown…

    The founders of Christianity made it sparkling, crystal clear, that there would be plenty of fake Christians.
    We would know the fakes, because they did not ACT like Christians. They would not DO as God commanded.

    Three of the greatest of those Commandments are;
    “Thou shalt not murder”
    “Thou shalt not steal”
    “Thou shalt jot covet thy neighbour’s land.”

    Putin and his administration have done those three things. Unjustified killing on a vast scale. Taking that which belongs to others, and specifically taking land that belongs to others.

    The word “hypocrite” was derived from the Greek word or actors. Performers. Thespians…. Who were noted in their day for wearing masks suited to whichever role they were playing. Putin wears such a mask when he attends church, but “by their fruits you shall know them.”

    Again… it is such a pity to see Americans supporting an Imperial Dictator who clothes himself in all the trappings of the Czars, against a nation fighting for its liberty.

  26. PeterW off the cuff given your lack of understanding for American phrases and your (Quote) "It’s kind of sad watching an American become so fixated on US domestic politics, that he will deny the right of a free people to fight a popular war of independence against a Dictator and oath-breaker."

    I'd ask you what part of the Ukraine or perhaps Poland you are from. Your command of proper English is pretty good but Americanisms you fail a bit.

    Minority owned in America is owned by African Americans and if you were aware beyond your news of America the Democrat Kingmakers have zero input from African Americans. Democrats pander for votes and ignore them for the rest of the time.

    As far as attacking Putin as non-Christian again your lack of knowledge about American thoughts shows. Americans remember that war is part and parcel of the Bible. Jesus used a lot of violence when He whipped the moneychangers from His Fathers temple.

    Matthew 10: 34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person's enemies will be those of his own household.

    Also, you neatly side stepped away from commenting on the YEARS of Bombardment of ethnic Russians living in former Ukraine territory and elimination of Russian Language and other Un-personing (look up the steps of Genocide). Self-defense is claimed for your people but not for the Russian civilians living under near constant attacks against them.

    But do continue posting, my linguist friends are enjoying it.

  27. PeterW your 3 comnandments:

    Like Manifest Destiny, Florida, Texas annexation, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Philipines, etc.

    I guess the people of Donbass, Crimea, Odessa are worth less than the people of Galicia/Banderistan?

    For your reading … Mathew 23

  28. Lets not forget that the people of Donbass were fighting for their independence fro the illegitimate post Maidan coup government for 8 years.

  29. Kristopher and some others already pretty much covered what I was going to add. Just dropping by to reiterate that a tank is still a tank. It may not have the upgrades to compete head to head with modern mbts but it would be plenty fine to support infantry as long as they are supported in turn.

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