In Ukraine, $40,000 Gets You A Personnel Carrier Based On A T-62 Tank

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In 16 months of hard fighting in Russia’s wider war on Ukraine, Ukrainian forces have captured no fewer than 45 old T-62 tanks from retreating Russian forces.

The Ukrainians rarely hesitate to deploy captured Russian equipment. They just hose out the blood, paint over the Russian invasion markings, swap out Russian radios for Ukrainian models and send the vehicles back into battle.

If there’s a big exception, it’s those 60-year-old T-62s. It’s not that Ukrainian troops necessarily reject an old tank: they happily accepted from Slovenia 28 M-55Ss, which are deeply upgraded T-55s from the 1950s.

But the M-55S has a modern gun firing NATO-standard 105-millimeter ammunition. The T-62 by contrast has an aging 115-millimeter gun firing an ammunition type that’s rare outside Russia.

So the Ukrainians have begun converting those captured T-62s into engineering vehicles, fighting vehicles and personnel carriers—and they start by popping off the old tanks’ turrets and removing their ammo-less main guns.

The latest Frankenstein’s T-62 is an armored personnel carrier that engineers are converting for the Azov Brigade, a national guard unit in eastern Ukraine. The Serhiy Prytula Charity Foundation in Kyiv, which has paid for previous T-62 conversions, also is paying for the new-old APC. Previous conversions cost around $40,000 apiece.

The Serhiy Prytula Charity Foundation also is paying for a T-62 engineering vehicle for the Azov Brigade.

Winching off a T-62’s eight-ton turret and 2A20 cannon leaves behind a 33-ton hull with a 580-horsepower diesel engine—and a lot of empty space where the turret bustle used to be. Space for two crew and several infantry to sit, squat or stand. Add pintle mounts for machine guns and voila—instant APC.

The T-62’s 100 millimeters of steel armor isn’t a lot by the standards of modern tanks, but it’s three times as much armor as Ukraine’s M-113 APCs have. The T-62 APC isn’t as heavily armed as is, say, the BMPT-62 fighting vehicle the Serhiy Prytula Charity Foundation produced for the Ukrainian army’s 128th Mountain Brigade.

But it’s reasonably well-protected. It joins the growing ranks of Ukrainian Frankenvehicles, which in addition to T-62-based vehicles also include various engineering vehicles and APCs based on the newer T-64 hull.

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