Russian forces appear to be attaching makeshift metal cages to the tops of their tanks in Ukraine in a crude effort to protect themselves against anti-tank missiles.
Analysts say the cages are inadequate protection against the modern weapons used by Ukraine and demonstrate the Russian military’s lack of preparedness for war.
“They’ve been nicknamed ‘cope cages,’ which I think shows the general more informed military view of how useful they actually are,” Justin Crump, a military veteran, and CEO of risk intelligence firm Sibylline, told Insider.
“They give them psychological protection against weapons, but actually, they do very little.”
Ukrainian roads have quickly become a killing ground for Russian convoys moving through hostile territory amid a reportedly worsening logistics situation. While losses of heavily armored tanks and armored personnel carriers to anti-tank weapons are piling up, far less fortified vehicles are vulnerable even to small arms fire.
Logs were another improvised armor added to tanks during WWII. Russian Army used the same tactics in Ukraine. However, they could also be removed from the tank and placed under the tracks in boggy terrain for additional traction. In fact, many Soviet tanks left the factory with logs mounted for this reason.
As armor, however, logs did not offer much protection. Like the sandbags, a full-power AP round could penetrate a log and reach a tank’s hull armor with very little lost velocity. However, it did provide some stand-off distance to protect against shaped charged weapons. Still, the molten jet of copper created by these weapons was generally unfazed by the extra spacing of a log.
Losses of light and unarmored vehicles trying to ferry men and materiel to advancing Russian forces are also increasing. As a result, Russian drivers have gotten creative in fortifying their trucks for the deadly roads leading ever deeper into Ukraine.
Images of Russian KAMAZ trucks appeared Saturday showing logs stacked on the front bumper as additional improvised armor. Crews even managed to retain their distinctive “V” markings seen on Russian vehicles in the sector. Other vehicles use wood boards and junk metal to protect their most vulnerable frontal areas.
The wooden cages are largely ineffective against the modern anti-tank weapons used by the Ukrainians, such as the Javelin and NLAW, or Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapon.
Many modern weapons are designed to counter that sort of protection, and the use of these cages shows an incomplete understanding” of the latest systems.
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