UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Ukraine - PT-91 Twardy (Strong)

The PT-91 Twardy was developed from the T-72M1. Its main innovations, compared to the original, are the new Drawa fire control system and Erawa reactive armor. Twardy tanks were produced from 1995 to 2002. During this time, 232 tanks were manufactured. Compared with the "heavy-browed" T-62 and naked T-72A, which were increasingly often seen on the Ukrainian frontline, it’s actually quite good, with its protected digital communication, fire-control system, dynamic defense, and night vision.

The dynamic defense is produced in Poland: the Poles didn't have an established technology and had gone through a long and painful development process. As a result, 394 ERAWA tiles have 95% effectiveness against Soviet-made ATGMs and 50% effectiveness against modern armor-piercing ammunition. It is a bit worse than the Nizh developed by Ukrainian Microtek and Kontakt-5 from Russian NII Stali, but better than the naked Russian T-72 A seen even near Kyiv. Moreover, the tiles fit tightly without a bulky metal frame and, in addition to protection, make the tank less visible to radars. PT-91 would be the best tanks Ukraine received so far (not counting the generous donations of the Russian Armed Forces).

Well-known Polish military observer Jaroslaw Wolski, who was the first to write about the transfer of T-72M from the Polish Armed Forces (he noticed that the depots had been emptied), said that Warsaw had made an agreement with Washington. Kyiv will be given 232 PT-91 Twardy tanks, and Poland will receive the appropriate number of Abrams tanks in exchange. It was not clear whether these will be the new M1A2 SEPv3 modification, of which 250 had been ordered for the eastern flank of NATO, or earlier machines currently in stock.

Like all post-Soviet weapons, it will not require diverting resources to retrain the rear, repair units, and training centers because the T-72 is quite familiar to us, and the AMT modification is battling at the forefront with all its might. Because of the large number of spare parts on the market and the advanced modernization, the route from Polish hangars to the Ukrainian front lines will be as short as possible. Spotters in Poland simultaneously filmed at least a battalion of PT-91 Twardy being moved to the eastern border. It was filmed on 07 July 2022.

The Ukrainian military received a number of PT-91 Twardy tanks that had been promised by Poland, presidential chief-of-staff Andriy Yermak announced on Telegram on 25 July 2022. Yermak did not specify exactly how many units of equipment were received. Previously, Poland had supplied over 200 Soviet T-72 tanks as military aid to Ukraine’s Armed Forces. Krzysztof Platek, spokesman for the Armaments Agency of the Polish Ministry of Defense, confirmed that Poland has already handed over PT-91 Twardy tanks to Ukraine. Platek does not name the exact number of tanks for Ukraine.

In total, about 200 copies of the Polish tank were to arrive in Ukraine. These tanks were to replace their own vehicles lost by the Ukrainians, the scale of their own losses in equipment is kept secret by Ukraine, boasting only about the losses inflicted on the Russian armed forces.

The delivery of the first batch of "Trody" was divided into two parts for unclear reasons. Out of 37 vehicles, only 12 immediately hit the front line and were used for the first time by the Armed Forces of Ukraine during the fighting in the Kharkiv region. However, in September 2022, the situation with Polish tanks for the Ukrainian Armed Forces became critical: most of the vehicles used in combat operations were destroyed either as a result of damage when driving a mine, or destroyed by Russian artillery or aviation. In September 2022, out of 12 front-line PT-91s, only three machines were operational, which the Armed Forces of Ukraine tried to either not use at all, or to use them to a very limited extent.

Ukraine certainly did not receive 200 Polish machines, and at most half of this number. So either some of the tanks were in very poor technical condition or more likely according to the Russians, the Poles stopped the transfer of the second batch of tanks after Germany did not give Poland their own Leopard tanks in return.

Marek Kaminski suggested it is more likely that most of the remaining two hundred are the reserve of the armored forces of Ukraine, and our tanks are being spared in the event of an attempted Russian counter-offensive in the most important directions of attack, including being part of the defense ring protecting the Ukrainian capital.

Poland was planning to send another 60 modernised Soviet-made tanks, including PT-91 Twardy, to Ukraine, apart from a company [14 units] of Leopard 2 tanks. Mateusz Morawiecki, Prime Minister of Poland, in an interview with the Canadian outlet CTV News, as reported by European Pravda 27 January 2023.

While commenting on the achieved agreement of Western allies on supplying Ukraine with modern tanks, Morawiecki has highlighted Poland’s role in this, as it has helped convince the rest and set an example itself. "Poland sent 250 tanks as the first country half a year ago or even more than that. Right now, we are ready to send 60 of our modernized tanks, 30 of them PT-91. And on top of those tanks, 14 tanks, Leopard 2 tanks, from our possession."

He has pointed out that Russia might have thousands of tanks - "several thousands, or some say even more than 15,000, of the tanks in their stores", and if the allies truly want to help Ukraine survive, their support should be significant. The Polish PM has said that the tanks that were promised and sent by Poland became a strong argument in convincing other allies to agree and supply Western-type tanks to Ukraine. Warsaw has also stressed that in case Putin succeeds, this war in Ukraine will be just the beginning of his attempts to restore the empire. Mateusz Morawiecki added that Poland continues working on encouraging more countries to send tanks to Ukraine. "Many taboos from the past have been overcome," Morawiecki said, commenting on the decisions made in recent weeks by NATO countries to supply armored vehicles or Patriot systems. "And now we are at a point where very modern Leopard 2 tanks, Abrams tanks from the United States will be delivered, and Ukrainian soldiers will undergo training," added the Polish Prime Minister. Referring to Germany's recent decisions on the supply of Leopard tanks to Ukraine and consent to the transfer of these tanks to Ukraine by other countries, as well as Poland's actions in this matter, Morawiecki said that he was glad that Poland could "convince allies and partners in Western Europe that they should be much more active in support of Ukraine."

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 22-04-2023 18:37:52 ZULU