The wild-looking Russian 'turtle tanks' that keep showing up may not be as crazy as they seem

  • Russia and Ukraine have turned to improvised armor solutions to give their tanks extra protection.

  • But Moscow, in recent weeks, appears to have taken this a step further with an innovation.

  • Its new "turtle tanks" may look silly, but there are indications they may be effective.

Facing a myriad of deadly threats on the battlefield, exploding drones being a particularly serious threat, Russia and Ukraine have both taken extra steps to safeguard their tanks and vehicles by outfitting them with extra layers of protective armor.

This improvised armor, sometimes little more than a chain-link cage welded around the outside of a vehicle, is essentially an effort to provide a last-ditch defense against inbound munitions like artillery, anti-tank missiles, or small drones packed with explosives, especially the latter.

While both militaries have used such tactics, Russia, in recent weeks, has unveiled a strange-looking — albeit apparently effective — innovation that has been referred to by some Ukraine war observers as the "turtle tank."

Videos of the Russian turtle tank design, shared by open-source intelligence accounts and experts often pulling from the accounts of Ukrainian service members, have become increasingly common on social media since first appearing earlier this month.

The tank is aptly named, as it's covered by what appears to be metal armor on all sides except the front, where the gun not-so-inconspicuously sticks out — kind of resembling the head of a turtle.

Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, identified the turtle tank participating in a mid-April assault carried out by Russia's 5th Motor Rifle Brigade on the eastern Ukrainian town of Krasnohorivka, a hotspot in fighting as Moscow pushes west of the Donetsk city. In one video, it appears to drive through a cluster munitions strike and keep going.

Lee suggested the unusual tank, at least some of which are suspected to have a mine-clearing role, might not be as crazy as it seems.

"I know people are laughing at this, but I don't think it is a crazy adaptation. The Russians are adapting to the particular conditions of the battlefield in which Ukraine has a lot of FPVs, but not enough ATGMs, anti-tank mines, and artillery," Lee said in a follow-up post, referring to the weapons first-person-view drones and anti-tank guided missiles.

"So sacrificing observation and the ability to rotate the turret on one tank per platoon that can jam many FPVs frequencies at once makes sense," Lee added.

Some OSINT pages highlighted the turtle tank's role in the assault on Krasnohorivka. Some of the vehicles appear to have fared better than others.

The turtle tank has also been spotted farther north along the front line in Russian assaults against Chasiv Yar, a Ukrainian town just west of Bakhmut that has become a critical battleground due to its elevated position overlooking the surrounding areas.

These tanks, however, appear to be at least somewhat effective. One Ukrainian Telegram channel, which published footage of a turtle tank in action over the weekend, noted that Ukraine had to expend "a lot" of FPV drones just to take out one vehicle.

"Everyone laughs at their construction of barns, but, in fact, they work like hell," the Ukrainian channel, which appears to belong to a Ukrainian service member, wrote, per a translation.

The Russian turtle tanks are a clear step beyond the widely documented "cope cages" both sides have relied on to try and shield their heavy armor throughout the war. These new defensive structures come as the Ukrainians increasingly turns to FPV drones packed with explosives to go after Moscow's vehicles.

Read the original article on Business Insider