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Ukrainian Civil War Thread: All Quiet on the Sturgeon Front

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This thread is for all things Ukrainian Civil War. I will start off by posting this analysis from SA:
 
 

So here's a rollup of a paper on Ukraine. It is an unpublished draft as presented to the US Army at Johns Hopkins a couple of weeks ago. It is titled "Lessons Learned from the Russo-Ukrainian War, Personal Observations", by Dr. Phillip A. Karbler, to be published by The Potomac Foundation (presumably). Everything in here is unclassified obviously. Absolutely none of this is mine or my opinions or anything of the sort.

I did a little bit of research on this guy and "The Potomac Foundation", and have kind of a...mixed view, I suppose. He's pretty clearly an old-school neo-con style hawk/interventionist and the tone of his paper seriously reflects this, so bear that in mind I guess. A lot of the citiations in his paper are...his own works, so that's...cool? He also claims to have made 15 different trips to front line Ukrainian units from March 14 to Jun 15 which is a lot of trips.

Anyway

He discussed four primary observations:

1) UAS all over the place. This has been predicted for quite a while, but I think pretty much everyone is surprised at just how many and how effective these things have been. High level airspace is so contested that it is virtually unsurvivable by manned aircraft, but tactical UAS have nearly free reign over lower altitudes. Russia has employed 14 different UAS models, none of which have an attack capability. Rather, they're being used as a comprehensive ISR enabler, particularly for artillery (which will be discussed in a minute). By using several different types of UAS with different sensor and imaging capabilities, they can effectively identify and mensurate targets without line of sight, and can then conduct BDA almost in real time. The biggest success has been directly pairing small tactical UAS with MLRS, which gives them the ability to mass area fires more quickly than anything we've (probably) ever seen. The big weakness of the UAS is that they aren't terribly flexible in their planning, which means that if targets are not in their ISR range, they can't effectively adapt search patterns in real time.

UAS defeat has been challenging for both sides. MANPADS aren't effective against tactical UAS, so most hard kills have been through good old machine gun or autocannon direct fire. EW is more effective: the Russians have been soft-killing Ukranian UAS with some manner of targetable EW to great effect. Both sides have also had to figure out how to camouflage, deception, dispersion, etc...all skills that have seriously atrophied in most militaries since the end of the Cold War.

2) Artillery has been unbelievably lethal. The author claims that 85% of casualties from both sides are coming from indirect fire. Russia in particular has invested heavily in MRL systems over the past 20 years, and these, targeted by UAS, have been doing most of the destroying. They are using, on various systems, DPICM and mines, top-attack guided submunitions, and thermobaric warheads. They're massing area fires effectively with a mix of warheads and the result has been quite a bit worse than anyone expected: there are several accounts of entire mechanized battalions being virtually annihilated in minutes; the armored vehicles now being the most vulnerable things in the area instead of a relatively safe place to be.

The second trend of note is the use of SPGs as direct fire systems. In particular the 2S1 system has done very well for both sides: it is very mobile, reliable, and the 122mm shells are relatively easy to move and supply. One particularly notable rule is the 2S1's success as a counterfire platform versus AT positions: once AT weapon is fired its position is revealed, and 2S1s are apparently standing by to deliver direct-fire HE at ranges past those of the AT missiles or guns. This has had a serious effect on how well ATGMs work, in addition to some other things discussed later. 2S1s are also being used in antiarmor roles; they obviously can't be used like tanks as they're not armored as such (and their loss rates reflect this), but they have been successfully engaging older tank models with direct fire.

The third artillery trend is how thoroughly decentralized both sides have made their artillery units. Maneuver battalions have been permanently attached tube artillery batteries; "battle groups" (I think BCT-sized units) have been given MRL batteries. This hasn't really been seen before, and the main reason is that the combat is so widely dispersed over a large geographic area that centralized artillery cannot really service all of the territory required.

The fourth artillery trend has been the effectiveness of counterfire radars, and of particular note, counter-counterfire radars. Russia sent its best CFRs, and they've been very, very effective in a traditional CF role...especially when coupled with loitering UAS. Perhaps more surprising, counter-counterfire, using the emissions of a radar to target it, have been very effective. Basically, when Ukraine has turned on a radar, it has been targeted very quickly thereafter, sometimes in as little asa 30 minutes. Since counterfire by definition requires persistent surveillance, this has essentially crippled Ukrainian long range counterfire efforts.

Finally, both sides have resorted to entrenchments and hardening in scale not seen since WWII in order to protect themselves from the artillery. Combined entrenchments are covering almost 2000km, and includes both infantry and hardening for artillery.

3) Older hand-held AT weapons have been worse than useless. Ukrainian forces are primarily equipped with AT-5s, and they've basically been bouncing off anything with ERA, which is...everything. Deal has been the same with RPG-7 and -29[sic]. This leaves the Ukranian infantry pretty helpless against armor, so they've been relying on artillery to do the job. This is fine if it is targeted effectively, but effectively targeting moving mechanized forces is a very challenging task. One major aside to this discussion: the T-90 has been deployed in very limited numbers and it has been brutally effective: T-90s have been deployed in company sized strength at least five times, in each such engagement Ukranian forces took twice their "normal" losses and have yet to kill a single T-90. The biggest game changers with the T-90 are all weather precision targeting with the main gun, and its active defense system.

4) Infantry vehicles are death traps. BTRs and BMPs aren't much more than targets, and there are a lot of things out there targeting them: RPGs, ATGMs, tanks, and most lethally, artillery. Guided top-down MLRS warheads have been able to wipe out entire battalions of light IFVs; soldiers are now riding on top of the vehicles to be able to un-ass more quickly, or resorting to fighting dismounted in order to get away from the IFVs.


So that's about half the paper, the rest of it is describing strategies for both sides and some engagements.


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Yeah, that part struck me as off too.  When did T-90 production start?  Maybe there were some that got left over on that side of the border, but never returned the way the TU-160s were.

 

It also occurs to me that it's rather difficult to tell T-80s and T-90s apart at distance.

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My father's friend was on rebels side during Debaltsevo combat. He said that some tanks outside looked like trash, but inside they were very well repaired. Also, T-72B3s were spotted during same operation, were filmed by Graham Philips (IIRC his name) and there is Youtube video with them.

 

He also told that number of UGVs were used, doing long-range fire missions against Ukrainian positions (UAF and some of those many 'patriotic' units).

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Funny how this summary declare RPGs useless and than says that BMP and BTRs are useless because of RPGs.

 

RPG-29 can penetrate almost everything Soviet Union produced. Maybe T-90A can seriously resist PG-29, but T-64BVs and T-72A/Bs can't.

 

UAF have big number of PG-7VR tandem RPG rounds in use, so ERA is not such a big problem. 

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Funny how this summary declare RPGs useless and than says that BMP and BTRs are useless because of RPGs.

RPG-29 can penetrate almost everything Soviet Union produced. Maybe T-90A can seriously resist PG-29, but T-64BVs and T-72A/Bs can't.

UAF have big number of PG-7VR tandem RPG rounds in use, so ERA is not such a big problem.

That's a typo he met to say RPG-26.

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Yeah, that part struck me as off too.  When did T-90 production start?  Maybe there were some that got left over on that side of the border, but never returned the way the TU-160s were.

 

It also occurs to me that it's rather difficult to tell T-80s and T-90s apart at distance.

 

Not really, they look pretty different to me,

 

Like T-44 to T-54 different

 

 

But ive spent alot of time around them i suppose

 

As for the T-90s, its more than less likely T-72s with very new Russian ERA, then again, i wouldnt be suprised if they were being issued out here and there 

 

It dosent surprise me that anything smaller than a Konkurs-M isn't that effective vs ERA, and that the RPG-29 is

 

These are Soviet made weapons, used against Soviet ERA, which were most likely tested against one another and vice versa 

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Not really, they look pretty different to me,

 

Like T-44 to T-54 different

 

But ive spent alot of time around them i suppose

 

As for the T-90s, its more than less likely T-72s with very new Russian ERA, then again, i wouldnt be suprised if they were being issued out here and there 

 

It dosent surprise me that anything smaller than a Konkurs-M isn't that effective vs ERA, and that the RPG-29 is

 

These are Soviet made weapons, used against Soviet ERA, which were most likely tested against one another and vice versa 

There have been people claiming that Ukrainian T-64's (after being captured by NAF) are Russian T-72 variants, and even T-90's... 

 

Any T-72 with K-5 could appear to be a T-90 from the distance, but as of now there is no evidence of T-90's being in NAF's hands. Possibly a couple stored-models have made it across the border but even that is unlikely. 

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There have been people claiming that Ukrainian T-64's (after being captured by NAF) are Russian T-72 variants, and even T-90's... 

 

Any T-72 with K-5 could appear to be a T-90 from the distance, but as of now there is no evidence of T-90's being in NAF's hands. Possibly a couple stored-models have made it across the border but even that is unlikely. 

 

Thats more likely the case

 

and heck, the Rebels could be armed with fleets of T-62s and still be kicking ass if Ukrainian crews have anything to show for it 

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