Ukrainian Land Forces

Feanor

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I realized we don't have a thread for this yet, so I'll start it off. This is a catch-all for all topics pertaining to Ukrainian Land Forces.

Information has come out about Ukraine combining the work done on Soviet OKR Kedr for a new engine for the T-64B with the Bulat upgrade, to produce a vehicle being unofficially referred to as the T-64BM2. During the 2014 summer campaign the 1st Tank Bde saw heavy action, and the T-64BMs revealed their signature weakness - engine problems. This is what this upgrade aims to remedy by installing the 6TD-1 engine instead of the 5TDF as well as updating portions of the transmission, and making changes to the air intakes and cooling system. It would open the door on applying the Bulat package upgrades to more of their T-64 fleet. Other improvements in this package include rear view cameras, a new sight (1G46M), new (allegedly domestic development) thermals, adding GM capability to any T-64s that don't already have it, new comms, and new ERA (even slightly more of it then the original Bulat package). The new engine compartment is slightly bigger which required raising the turret slightly.

There is also information that a bigger upgrade package with a possible new turret is being developed under OKR Krab.

 

Feanor

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Ukraine is testing the Dana howitzers from the Czech Republic. This is a logical choice for a modern SP Arty piece in the 152mm caliber. It's also a potential indicator that their own Bogdana project is as ineffective as it appears. The Dana saw combat action in the recent Karabakh war, and from what I've read it did well there. There are reports that 26 are planned for contract. Even the quantity makes sense, Ukraine can afford that many. But of course this is only a good idea if they plan on purchasing more down the line.

 

Ananda

The Bunker Group

Quite interesting article from jamestown.org about the organisational state of Ukraine Armed forces. I put it here, as after read it, seems talk more on their ground forces.

Basically the article talk about that effort by US and NATO to help rebuild and empower Ukraine Armed forces risk coming to naught, due to the behavior not only on Ukrainian government but more importantly the Ukraine Armed Forces high command.

For me, I also see the degradation of Ukraine defense Industry. The whole defense industrial complex loosing not only order from Russia as used to be their main customers, but also other International customer. While Ukraine government it self can't provide order to keep them going.

I don't know how US and NATO can keep pumping money to Ukraine. While Ukraine it self seems not trying to revamp their practices not only Politically, but also their commercial effort.
 

Feanor

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Quite interesting article from jamestown.org about the organisational state of Ukraine Armed forces. I put it here, as after read it, seems talk more on their ground forces.

Basically the article talk about that effort by US and NATO to help rebuild and empower Ukraine Armed forces risk coming to naught, due to the behavior not only on Ukrainian government but more importantly the Ukraine Armed Forces high command.

For me, I also see the degradation of Ukraine defense Industry. The whole defense industrial complex loosing not only order from Russia as used to be their main customers, but also other International customer. While Ukraine government it self can't provide order to keep them going.

I don't know how US and NATO can keep pumping money to Ukraine. While Ukraine it self seems not trying to revamp their practices not only Politically, but also their commercial effort.
The Ukrainian military is badly short on everything, and providing them basic equipment like Humvees, or radios, or NVGs, goes a long way. The Ukrainian military has also improved in areas like sniper and counter-sniper work, use of UAVs and artillery, and even basic infantry tactics. Not all of this is due to foreign aid, but foreign aid has had much to do with this. The article seems to think that by tossing a couple of billion dollars over 7 years the Ukrainian military should have transformed itself into a western-style war machine. This is an unrealistic expectation. The volume of foreign aid isn't enough, and Ukraine's own economy is too small to support a modern military of this size (or to build a modern military that can fight Russia at the state level). Ukraine could certainly benefit from comprehensive military reforms, and corruption as well as bureaucratic inertia certainly have much to do with why this hasn't happened. But it doesn't mean the aid isn't having any effect, and it doesn't mean it's reasonable to expect that this level of aid will radically transform the Ukrainian armed forces. Much of the evidence provided is sound, and the critique overall is accurate.

I'll respond to some things that jumped out at me. The article talks about fear of losing as a motivator for reform, but realistically there is no fear of losing. Russia isn't interested in escalating unless Ukraine crosses some red line, and even then it's highly unlikely Russian tanks will rush for Kiev. The article also mentions a military answer to the war. There is no military solution possible to the crisis for Ukraine fighting alone. There is no scenario, short of Russia being faced with some nation-shattering crisis elsewhere, where Ukraine can win this fight. Again Ukraine's economy, coupled with modest foreign aid, can't give it the ability to fight off Russia by itself. And this gets to the crux of the issue. When it comes to defeating the rebels, Ukraine doesn't need help. It just needs Russia to stay out. Which if not going to happen. When it comes to fighting Russia openly, this is a non-starter. Ukraine is not going to be able to win a full scale open fight against Russia, pretty much no matter what. Those kinds of resources simply aren't available.

There is also much talk about joining NATO in the article, and the writers seem to have picked up on the key issue. In Ukrainian circles "NATO standards" have become a mantra completely disconnected from reality. It's something Ukrainian political and military figures say but it doesn't bear up to any sort of scrutiny. In all honesty, I don't think Ukrainian leadership is interested in realistically joining NATO or the EU, in terms of the deep systemic changes this requires. What they want is foreign support, military, economic, and political, to solve their problems for them.

Final point. The Ukrainian side is not wrong to ask for more weapons. They really, very much and very badly, need more weapons, across almost the entire spectrum. As it stands the Ukrainian military is short in just about every area. They need more trucks, more AFVs, more tanks, more artillery, more radios, more missile systems, more everything. But this is disconnected from the reality that Ukraine can't afford the military it wants to field, or the war it's trying to win.

Side, note, it was particularly amusing to read the part about ammunition depot explosions. Russia went through its own series of ammunition depot explosions after the Serdyukov reforms, when live-fire exercises saw a drastic increase. They stemmed from the fact that poorly stored and often past their best-by date munitions were being pulled out of rotten wooden boxes by depot workers who didn't know what they were doing. In the course of this war Ukraine has had multiple occasions to draw stocks of equipment and munitions from old Soviet-era depots, yet the assumption the article makes about the findings of incompetency among the warehouse personnel are an attempt to direct the public away from blaming Russia for the incidents? Quite humorous. In my opinion Ukraine suffers from the same problems that Russia did when it comes to depot explosions; poorly trained and insufficient in number personnel trying to pull old, often expired, ammunition, stored improperly.
 

Big_Zucchini

Well-Known Member
Ukraine cannot win a conventional fight with Russia as you said. But that's not exactly the kind of fight Russia was going for.
It was self-limiting to maintain a disguise. In that environment, Ukraine can adequately fight Russia, if it somehow magically ends corruption and incompetence and starts efficiently working toward a solution.

Ukraine can work toward inflicting higher losses in Russia than Russia can afford. And that's not some dream scenario when we know that today you can:
1. Buy cheap crucial capabilities (works same as 80% of the work at 20% of the time thing) like drone-based ISR and strike, and non-jammable AI enabled munitions.

2. Ukraine only has Russia as an opponent, but Russia has Ukraine and the entire NATO, plus borders with China and former Soviet states that may need intervention, or even remote ones (like Syria).

3. Ukraine's economy is bad, but Russia is also struggling.
 

Feanor

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Ukraine cannot win a conventional fight with Russia as you said. But that's not exactly the kind of fight Russia was going for.
It was self-limiting to maintain a disguise. In that environment, Ukraine can adequately fight Russia, if it somehow magically ends corruption and incompetence and starts efficiently working toward a solution.

Ukraine can work toward inflicting higher losses in Russia than Russia can afford. And that's not some dream scenario when we know that today you can:
1. Buy cheap crucial capabilities (works same as 80% of the work at 20% of the time thing) like drone-based ISR and strike, and non-jammable AI enabled munitions.

2. Ukraine only has Russia as an opponent, but Russia has Ukraine and the entire NATO, plus borders with China and former Soviet states that may need intervention, or even remote ones (like Syria).

3. Ukraine's economy is bad, but Russia is also struggling.
I wrote a giant wall of text reply but it was fairly off-topic for this thread. If you're interested, we can discuss this in the Ukrainian war thread. I'll respond within the context of the development of Ukrainian ground forces here. I think what you're suggesting is preparing for the last war, one where Russia is self-limited. There is no guarantee that it will be this way moving forward. Ukraine certainly should buy cheap crucial capabilities, and I would argue they already are in the form of the Bayraktars, among other things.

However I think a realistic assessment needs to be made of available resources and the scale that Ukraine can deploy a modern military at. They need to downsize big time, and spend the freed up funds on improving combat readiness. Good things to consider is that Ukraine can't afford mass replacement of Soviet-era IFVs, arty, or APCs any time soon. At best they can do small scale replacements. Which means the total available equipment should be one of the factors when considering the size of their military. They also need to focus on affordable programs that they can implement on a wide scale. Their T-64BV upgrade program, for example, is a great success. It provides badly needed thermal imaging capabilities, as well as improving comms and navigation, and at a relatively low cost. They should look into a similar upgrade program for their BMP fleet, especially since a domestic turret replacement is available. They could also look into standardizing the chassis for their MLRS fleet around a current Ukrainian truck chassis (ditching some of those older Urals and in some cases even ZiLs), including new comms and navigation improvements, as part of this.

Those kinds of small but across the board improvements would go a long way towards preparing the Ukrainian military for a future fight and are realistically doable within the existing budgetary situation, especially if they downsize. Some of the Motorized Brigades they operate are barely worth their food and pay in terms of combat performance.
 

Feanor

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I agree. A small but capable army will be more effective than a large and outdated one.
One of the aspects the article hints at is that the military uses a patronage system, in which it is useful to be able to hand out officer ranks and billets. This is why it militarily makes little sense for form a second brigade of marines when you don't have the staff for the first brigade, and don't have the landing capabilities for a btln, but politically it makes a lot of sense. And from a service politics stand point it also makes sense because it gives the admirals in charge some way to meaningfully participate in the war effort, and to be tied to the money and influence streams that go with it. And Ukrainian command sees the low effectiveness of their formation and thinks they need many formations to get some capable troops to the front, which in the short term isn't entirely wrong but creates a bit of a closed loop. This is what makes this much more of a mess then just a small and large question.
 
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