A video shared on social media this week captured the moment that a Lancet loitering munition struck a Ukrainian T-72M1 main battle tank (MBT) in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
According to ... from Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons), the vehicle was totally destroyed after its ammo was detonated.
It is unclear if any of the crew survived the strike.
The video has been seen nearly 250,000 times since it was posted to Twitter on Wednesday.
It has also been shared on the Telegram social media platform – and is one of the Kremlin’s rare “victories” in the region, where Russian forces have taken massive casualties.
Russia’s Lancet in the Spotlight
According to ..., Russian forces targeted the Ukrainian MBT with a ZALA Lancet, an unmanned aerial system (UAS) and loitering munition. Developed for the Russian Armed Forces by ZALA Aero, a subsidiary of the Kalashnikov Concern, the Lancet was first unveiled at the Army-2019 Military International Technical Forum, Russia’s largest arms trade show.
The UAS was first combat tested by Russian forces in Syria in November 2020.
According to Russian state media, the Lancet drone is equipped with several types of guidance systems, including coordinates, optoelectronics, and combined technologies. The UAS is also reported to be highly autonomous while its optical-electronic guidance system can help it independently “ferret out and destroy a target.”
The drone is equipped with a television communication channel that transmits an image of the target, which also allows for confirmation that the target has been hit. The platform is capable of destroying targets within a radius of up to 40 kilometers.
The Lancet’s maximum takeoff weight is 12 kilograms.
Russian forces have been employing the Lancet in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast since last summer.
“Strikes were delivered against the militants of [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky, using Russian-made Lancet-3 loitering munitions. This is a big step forward and this is a munition drone that flies accurately towards its target. Before that, we were terrorized only from that side. Now our army is responding to this challenge,” Vladimir Rogov, a Russian member of the chief council of the region’s military-civilian administration, said in a July 2022 broadcast on the Soloviev.Live TV channel, Tass reported.
One Fewer Ukrainian T-72
Both sides have lost significant numbers of MBTs to drones in the now-year-long war in Ukraine. The T-72M1 seen destroyed in the video is an upgraded model of the Soviet-designed Cold War-era tank.
#Ukraine: A Ukrainian T-72M1 tank was destroyed by a Lancet loitering munition in #Zaporizhzhia Oblast. The vehicle was totally destroyed by the ammo detonating. pic.twitter.com/7a3GLADFno
— ???????? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) March 22, 2023
It is equipped with an improved fire control system incorporating a thermal sight that attracts attention by its low silhouette, relatively lightweight, lethal armament, and high reliability at minimum operating costs, which has put it on a par with the best tanks in other countries, immediately and for years to come.
The T-72M1 has been noted for retaining all the virtues of the baseline tank while incorporating new advances that ensure it can maintain an edge over its counterparts.
However, the days of the MBT taking command of a battlefield could be coming to an end thanks to the capabilities of drones.
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.