MBT "Oplot-T" on a railway platform
The last meeting of the trilateral contact group in Minsk on the settlement of the conflict in Donbass took place on December 22, 2015. Despite the fact that the issues of withdrawing large-caliber artillery and MLRS were again discussed, the general background of the consultations, in the light of the ongoing aggressive actions of Kiev against the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, showed complete uncertainty even for the near future (the parties agreed on a ceasefire for the period of the New Year holidays). The result of this useless meeting was not long in coming.
Starting from the night of December 22, the shelling of the territories of the young republics by the junta's artillery has intensified significantly. The density of fire impact on checkpoints and strong points of the VSN (Armed Forces of Novorossiya) from the Armed Forces of Ukraine increased exponentially every next day, and reached its climax on the evening of December 26. Residents and servicemen of the Novorossiya army in Donetsk and Gorlovka witnessed a powerful artillery strike on strongpoints and residential quarters on the northern faces of these strategic DPR cities. It was reported about "continuous and powerful hum": in other words, along the entire line of the North-Western Front, the enemy used MBT, RPG, 82 and 120-mm mortars of the BM-37 and 2B11 type. For the first time in several months, the Armed Forces of Ukraine released an incomplete "package" of BM-21 "Grad" in the Kalininsky district of Donetsk. Considering that the area is located in the northeastern part of the city (removed from the contact line, and is considered to be relatively the rear zone of the armed forces), we can confidently speak of attempts to loosen and weaken the internal defensive lines of the Donetsk operational direction to try to break through the junta's troops into the urban infrastructure.
Starting from December 27 and ending with the first days of January 2016, the intensity of the shelling decreased significantly, but even on New Year's Eve, the whole Donetsk “admired” not fireworks, but hundreds of tracer shells of 23-mm anti-aircraft gun installations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, working on UAVs of the VSN reconnaissance units. who conduct round-the-clock reconnaissance in order to control the contact line. Many experts attributed the relative lull on the New Year's Eve to the offensive being prepared for New Year's Eve, but this did not happen; and not even because of a telephone conversation between the leaders of the Normandy Four, but because of the enormous organizational and tactical complexity of these actions, which require long preparation and correct distribution of armored vehicles and infantry of assault echelons.
Kiev is well aware of the utopian nature of the idea of breaking through the front line of the LPNR, nevertheless, the "hot heads" of the nationalist military formations (TB "Azov", "Aydar", "Donbass" and the remnants of the PS), as well as the illegally elected power, receive from Washington very unambiguous instructions for the continuation of the aggression in Donbass: the American masters intend to win the "party" in Ukraine by all means. Otherwise, Kiev will lose financial and technical support from Washington. And the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is now thinking about how to launch an offensive more “effectively” in the eyes of the West, than to provoke it, and, subsequently, how to present itself as the most injured party in need of support.
At the same time, the material and technical part of the preparation has already been fully completed, the rest is tactical moments, which are now expressed in the delay of a new escalation.
KIEV PREPARED ALL THE AVAILABLE RESERVES OF BOTH OUTDATE AND NEWEST WEAPONS FOR THE NEXT COURSE OF MILITARY CRIMES AGAINST LPNR
By the beginning of 2016, the Armed Forces of Ukraine had concentrated more than 300 units of armored military equipment, artillery and several dozen anti-aircraft artillery systems, air defense systems and short-range MANPADS near the contact line. The number of personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with foreign PMCs (Turkish, Polish and Georgian) near the front line exceeds 150 - 170 thousand people, which is 3 times more than the composition of the Armed Forces. A similar balance of forces in the theater of operations of Novorossia was observed before the previous "offensives" of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which ended with the "Debaltsevsky cauldron", the Donetsk airport and other tactical territorial formations, where Kiev was defeated. A similar scenario awaits the next military campaign of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Donbass, but not without nuances.
As you know, artillery preparation before an offensive operation is the basis of military strategy. And its effectiveness directly depends on the depth of the enemy's rear zone, as well as the characteristics of the artillery weapons in service with air reconnaissance UAVs and counter-battery radars attached to them. During the ten months of the absence of an active phase of hostilities in the Donbass, the Armed Forces deployed near the front line most of the "reactivated" large-caliber cannon and rocket artillery systems. Whole trains arrived in Artyomovsk, Selidovo, Krasnoarmeysk and Georgievka with ACS "Akatsiya", "Carnation", "Hyacinth-S". In the Mariupol direction (from the direction of Berdyansk), several operational-tactical missile systems 9K79-1 "Tochka-U" (the range of the 9M79-1 OTBR is 120 km) were seen, which had already been used during previous escalations.
By the New Year, the transfer of equipment was sharply reduced to almost "zero", which indicated that the equipment of the junta troops was sufficient for long-term battles, and became a signal for the preparation of the armed forces for retaliatory actions. So, at the end of the year, the Makeyevka artillery brigades of the DPR army moved to the western outskirts of the city to prepare for a retaliatory strike. But back to "Tochka-U". Why were they transferred specifically to Mariupol?
From this point of Donbass, the Tochka-U complex has a reach to any strategically important point of the Donetsk People's Republic, including Novoazovsk. I will say more, it is from the side of the Azov region that the most favorable and safe flight path of 9M79-1 missiles against the targets of the VSN located in the northern part of the Telmanovsky region opens. The ascending and descending sections of the trajectory pass over the territory controlled by the Ukrainian army, outside the range of the anti-aircraft missile systems of the DPR army. And the junta realized last year that it would not be possible to hit peaceful Donetsk with a "Point": about a dozen of these BRs were successfully intercepted by the effectively built air defense of Donetsk. The redeployment of the complexes to Mariupol indicates only one thing: the Armed Forces will try to make a breakthrough south of the Donetsk-Makeyevskaya agglomeration (along the Dokuchaevsk-Belaya Kamenka line), i.e. on the southern front of the republic, where the "Telmanovsky Isthmus" has a shallow depth of the rear zone, which is most vulnerable to offensive actions. The attack on the Donetsk-Makeyevka agglomeration will be of a local nature, the purpose of which will be to distract the DPR army from the main goal of the Armed Forces of Ukraine - cutting off the southern grouping of DPR troops (in Novoazovsk) from the central one (in Donetsk), which I mentioned in the last article about the situation in the republics …
With regards to the breakthrough of the Armed Forces of Ukraine into Krasny Partizan in order to block the traffic intersection between Donetsk and Horlivka, as well as the violation of the integral line of the Western Front of the DPR, I will tell you in more detail thanks to the information provided by one of the many adherent drivers of Novorossiya located in the territories controlled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
On December 27, 2015, one of the motorists, passing the town of Selidovo (30 km from Donetsk), captured on a digital camera a column of tractors with a completely new modification of the MBT developed by the Kharkov Design Bureau of Heavy Engineering "KHKBTM im. A. A. Morozov ", which was not previously seen on the Donbass theater of operations. From the profile of the turret of the combat vehicle, it immediately became clear that this MBT BM "Oplot-M" for the Thai contract (also known as "Oplot-T"), which was supplied to Thailand in the amount of two batches of 5 tanks each (10 "Oplot-T"). The first shipment was delivered to Thailand in February 2014, the second in May 2015. The "Oplot-T" seen in Selidovo, apparently, belong to the third batch of the unsuccessful Thai contract providing for the sale of 49 "Oplot".
"Oplot-T" is transported on a heavy-duty semitrailer ChMZAP 5212a by a KRAZ truck. The photo was taken by the driver of a passenger car in the settlement. Selidovo (30 km from the demarcation line in Donbass). It is also known about the presence in the Armed Forces of 10 MBT version of the T-84U "Oplot" and 10 MBT T-84A. The modifications have armor parameters similar to those of the Oplot-M. Thus, the number of different modifications of "Oplot" in the Armed Forces of Ukraine can reach 30 units, which forces the VSN to focus on equipping units with the most advanced versions of anti-tank complexes. Rapid destruction of tanks of this type can only be achieved by firing several anti-tank crews simultaneously from the front and side (stern) projections of the vehicle. Even the "veteran" T-72B (2.5 times less protected) withstood up to 25 hits from various anti-tank weapons in the frontal projection
At the moment, there is no exact information regarding the production rate of BM "Oplot-M" tanks at the "Plant named after V. A. Malyshev "in Kharkov. 6 months after the delivery of the second batch of tanks, the enterprise, theoretically, could produce from 3 to 7 vehicles, taking into account the pressure and some "infusions" from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, but is such a number of Oplot-T tanks capable of seriously affecting the balance of power on The western front of Novorossiya is a big question.
MBT "Oplot-T", as, in fact, BM "Oplot-M", is the deepest modernization of the MBT T-84A "Oplot", which has long been known for the highest indicator of the equivalent armor resistance of the frontal armor plate of the tower from OBPS and KS (armor protection of the frontal projection of the tower "Oplot" is comparable to the indicators of the MBT T-90S and is 900 - 1100 mm from the BPS, 1250 - 1400 mm from the CS), which is 1.5 times higher than that of another Kharkov modification of the T-64 BM "Bulat", which It was easily destroyed by anti-tank weapons of the Armed Forces of Novorossiya back in 2014 and 2015.
Unlike Bulat, Oplot-T also has a much better power density (23.5 hp / t) and mobility, is equipped with a more efficient DZ "Duplet", and most importantly - the main dimensions of the frontal armor plates of the turret and hull. made of steel sheets obtained by the method of electroslag remelting (10 - 15% increase in armor resistance). Despite this, the FCS and armament of the BM "Oplot-M", represented by the thermal imaging sight of the gunner "Buran-Katrin-E" (IR-matrix of the 1st generation), as well as the KBAZ tank gun (analogue of the outdated Russian modification 2A46M-1), did not allow the Ukrainian vehicle to surpass the parameters of the Russian T-90S and T-90SM, which was eventually confirmed by the Thai side, which at the end of the year, after purchasing 10 BM "Oplot-M", became interested in Russian tanks.
Nevertheless, BM "Oplot-M" continues to be a "tough nut to crack" for the army of Novorossiya. The above indicators of armor protection are maintained within the angles of safe maneuvering of the vehicle (+/- 30 ° from the longitudinal axis of the barrel). DZ "Duplet" protects against such ATGMs as "Metis-M", as well as the majority of feathered BPS, including "Lekalo" and "Lead-1", and, given the best mobility, a couple of three shots from "Malyutka" and T-64BV " kill "" Oplot "will not work.
In case of insufficient defense n. Krasny Partizan, even 10-15 "strongholds" of the junta may well break into the village under the cover of artillery, mortars and "Grad", as well as with the support of anti-tank crews of the FGM-148 "Javelin" ATGM. As servicemen of the DPR army say, such a "breakthrough" will end with another tactical "bowler hat" within the Donetsk-Makeevka agglomeration. But imagine how many civilian casualties such a "bowler hat" can distinguish itself.
The attempt to break through the Armed Forces of Ukraine into Krasny Partizan can be explained not so much by the “cutting off” of Gorlovka from Donetsk as by an attempt to deepen the radius of fire from the junta's cannon and rocket artillery at the rear supply centers of Novorossia located near Saur-Mogila, Snezhnoye and the Russian border, which are now inaccessible. In this case, the “automatic” target of the APU becomes also n. Korsun, located near Yenakiyevo. The attack on Krasny Partizan and Korsun will instantly end with a new "cauldron" for the junta, but it can bring huge losses to both the VSN and the people of Donbass, and therefore requires preemptive action.
First, the creation of special operational anti-tank brigades in Yasinovataya, Donetsk and Horlivka to identify and destroy armored units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the western face of Donetsk and Horlivka.
Secondly, similar anti-tank brigades should be concentrated in Starobeshevo and Telmanovo to stop the main offensive "backbone" of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the Southern Front. The main offensive forces of the Novorossiya army should also be concentrated in this direction, since it is known that on the western bank of the Kalmius River, and right up to the Crimean border, the Armed Forces of Ukraine do not have a single worthy fortified area to protect their antipopular interests.
Now we continue to observe a period of another operational silence in Donbas. Only occasionally do short clashes take place on the Western and Northern fronts of the republics using mortars, AGS and small arms. The meteorological situation in Donbass also contributes to the conduct of large-scale hostilities, severe frosts have sufficiently strengthened the ground for the use of heavy armored vehicles, and the clean atmosphere is suitable for long-term visual observations of the enemy. All equipment has long been near the demarcation line, documentary "Minsk-2" has not been extended, and the extension is not a guarantor, and therefore a new round of escalation in Donbass can begin at any time.