T-72 Combat Experience - 1980s
Over the years, the T-72 was one of the most widely employed tanks of all vehicles of its generation. In military terms, this hard fighting machine developed by designers and Ural Ural worker released in the tens of thousands of copies, proved to be a real "working mechanism" of war. Phenomenal reliability, ease of operation and combat use, excellent firepower, protection and mobility became the hallmarks of T-72 and the family of machines at its base.
Iran-Iraq war - 1980-1989
The first armed conflict where the T-72 was involved broke out in September 1980, the Iran-Iraq war. The first 100 Soviet-made machines were received shortly before Iraq strained relations with its neighbor. These were the export versions of the T-72 "Ural-1" with a telescopic sight-rangefinder TPD-2-49. From vehicles coming in the Soviet army, they differed in the basic design of the frontal armor protection of the turret, a complete set of ammunition, the lack of anti-nuclear defense.
The T-72 took an active part in all stages of the Iran-Iraq war. And at a time when the Iraqi army was advancing successfully, and when it had to repell the attacks of Iranians, advancing to Baghdad and seeking to capture the second largest Iraqi city of Basra. Iraqi commanders had treasured these tanks, and led into battle these tanks only on the most critical areas.
Armored forces were the main striking force of both warring parties. The Iraqi army used Soviet-made tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers, Iran had American armored vehicles (tanks M47, M60A1, M113 armored personnel carriers), English (tanks "Chieftain", "Scorpio") and Soviet (BMP-1 and BTR-50P, BTR-60PB) production. In addition, the input fighting Iraqis and Iranians seized each other part left on the battlefield armored vehicles and often used it in their troops.
The effectiveness of the use of tanks in the conflict was low, due to the lack of command of both sides with relevant experience. They used tactics that were mismatched to the opportunities of armored forces, involving armored units and parts to the solution of non-core tasks to them, low combat training and technical training of personnel, and the peculiarities of the theater of combat action.
Tanks were used, as a rule, not massively, but slightly used maneuverability and firepower. Fire from tanks was conducted mainly at limited range. Using the Iraqi tanks in the defense to fire strikes on the enemy led to the rapid deterioration of the tank guns.
In the offensive tanks acted as a rule, without infantry support, which increased the percentage of their losses due to antitank rocket propelled grenades. Both sides experienced significant difficulties in crossing water hazards, as well as restoration of damaged armored vehicles.
Along with this, there were some positive examples of effective use of tank units. At the beginning of the conflict, Iraqi tank battalion, armed with T-72s, in the fleeting battle near the CESR-Shirin completely defeated an Iranian Tank Battalion with "Chieftain" tanks, without incurring losses.
Both sides - Iraq and Iran - noted the undoubted advantages of the Soviet armored vehicles. So, one of the highest Iranian officers Afzali in June 1981 praised the Soviet T-72 tank: "The T-72 has the maneuverability and firepower that British tanks" Chieftain "do not go to any comparison with it. Iran has no effective means of dealing with the T-72. " About the same evaluation was awarded the tank and the results of the battles at Basra in July 1982, Iranian officers also noted a high reliability and ease maintenance of captured Iraqis Soviet tanks compared to the tanks of American and British production.
In particular, a war veteran and commander of a tank company (tanks "Chieftain") Adar Forouzan, recalls that in this period tankers of the regular army could not say anything good about the "Chieftain" tank . Iranian officer writes: "The more I learned about the tank" Chieftain", the more I agree with them." He further said that the most dangerous weapons in Iraq were T-72 tanks, "the Iraqis were partially equipped with the new T-72 tanks. They had good speed and firepower, and their armor protects against RPGs our infantry. T-72 was a very dangerous threat to us."
Then he tells the story of the first clashes with T-72 tanks during the onset of Iran in the region near the Dasht Abbas Dizful in spring 1982. Iraq threw a counter-offensive of T-72 tanks, and the "Chieftain" of Adar Forouzana was immediately shot down: "In my tank hit the MTO exploded fuel vapors, the shock wave blew off the headset. We all jumped out of the tank and fled on foot." This military officer says other cases T-72 superiority over the US and British armored vehicles.
Since the beginning of 1982, at the disposal of Iraq began to receive advanced T-72M. According to various reports, in all Iraq bought 1,100 of the T-72, T-72M and T-72M1 tanks. According to some reports, in the battle with Iran only 60 tanks were irretrievably lost. Moreover, several T-72 were gotten by the Iranians in good condition.
It should be noted that the T-72 became a kind of Iraqi tank victory in the war with Iran. That T-72M and M1, operated by the Iraqi Republican Guard, used at the point of attack in the area of the Al Faw peninsula, the decisive battle of the eight-year war, after the defeat in which Iran agreed to make peace.
Export Iraqi T-72 demonstrated superiority even over their peers, the export version of the tank "Chieftain", two-stroke diesel engines, which were not well-suited for operations in the region. It turned out that of overweight British combat vehicles with insufficient power density significantly lost mobility compared to the Soviet tanks.
The war in Lebanon (1982)
Another military conflict in which T-72 were used was the war in Lebanon in the summer of 1982. The Syrian army at the start of these events had a fleet of 250 vehicles.
It is worth noting that in addition to direct participation in hostilities, the Syrian T-72 came under a massive informational blow from the Western media. They replicated the various stories about wrecked and captured tanks, some of which were allegedly thrown ovrt with the engine running. As it turned out, most of the episodes were normal military propaganda. The Israelis were not able to produce these "captured" fighting machine. As for the Syrian command, it very much appreciated the T-72, and as a result, Syria became one of the largest foreign operators Nizhny Tagil machines. In total, according to various estimates, Syria purchased some 1,600 tanks T-72.
Fighting in Chad (1981-1983)
Libya, like Iraq, began to receive the export version of the tank "Ural-1" in 1979. Two brigades of the armed forces of Libya, who had armed the tanks were involved in the fighting in Chad in 1981 and 1983. Operating at high temperatures, extreme dust, T-72 demonstrated good reliability.
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