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Russia Develops T-72B3 Sturm – First Unmanned MBT in Ukraine War Action

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    Russia Develops T-72B3 Sturm – First Unmanned MBT in Ukraine War Action


    Apart from developing the BMP-3 unmanned Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) variant (Udar), Russia is now trying a new breakthrough by testing the unmanned T-72 Main Battle Tank (MBT). By operating without a crew, an MBT weighing tens of tons can operate like a drone, or as an unmanned ground combat vehicle called an Unmanned Combat Ground Vehicle (UCGV).

    The unmanned T-72 MBT is called Sturm, which will later be presented on the Ukrainian battlefield. According to the Life.RU article (10/9/2023), Uralvagonzavod (UVZ) has begun the testing phase of the Shturm unmanned combat robot, which is built on the T-72B3 tank chassis, and is intended for deployment on the Ukrainian front line.

    In fact, development of the unmanned MBT project by UVZ had begun before the Ukrainian conflict began, but recent developments have accelerated its progress. This testing program involved live fire drills against various target scenarios, with a focus on the utilization of the main armament, namely the 125 mm smoothbore gun.

    Russian military expert Yuri Knutov noted that the introduction of T-72-based drones could offer distinct advantages to the Russian Armed Forces. The unmanned MBT can move forward under enemy fire, ensuring the safety of its crew, who remain outside the vehicle. 

    Knutov mentioned that Sturm's plans actually include four types of robots, which will probably be adjusted after testing. These robots are tested with artificial intelligence systems.

    The decision to use the T-72B3 platform was influenced by the less outdated MBT system, equipped with the latest generation dynamic protection system currently in use in Ukraine, which can significantly increase the combat capabilities of this unmanned tank.

    Knutov said, to optimize combat effectiveness, armored vehicles should be deployed strategically, such as in a tank carousel configuration consisting of three vehicles, which seems more promising than deploying MBT units in large numbers.

    The T-72 has been used in various conflicts since the 1970s and remains one of the most widely used tanks in the world, although it has now been replaced by more modern main battle tanks.

    The weight of the T-72 can vary depending on the variant and equipment. However, in general, the weight of the T-72 tank ranges from 41 to 46 tons. Differences in weight between variants usually depend on differences in armament, protection, and electronic systems installed on the tanks. Higher weight is often associated with increased protection and more sophisticated armament.

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