Tank Runs For Its Life Under Constant Barrage Of Attack Drones

The video is reminder of how low-end FPV drones are drastically changing warfare and how prevalent they are becoming on the battlefield.

byHoward Altman|
A tank miraculously survives an FPV drone barrage.
Twitter Screencap


Among the most notable developments in the war in Ukraine is the ubiquity of First Person View (FPV) drones, a highly maneuverable loitering munition both sides are using to devastating effect. They are now dominating the battlefield to a degree. We have showcased numerous videos of the FPV drones damaging or destroying tanks, trucks and even individual soldiers. Less commonly seen are incidents in which vehicles survive multiple such attacks.

That was the story, however, behind a lucky T-80BVM tank crew recently. The video below shows the tank as it runs for its life while coming under sustained attack by a succession of explosive-laden FPV drones.

As to who the tank belongs to, that's isn't perfectly clear. Rob Lee (@RALee85), Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, says it is a Russian tank based on comments from @OSINTua. The Pristanishche VK Telegram channel, which orignally posted the video, says the tank is Ukrainian.

The video opens with the tank rumbling down a road, sporting a “cope cage” roof screen to protect against drone attacks from above and spewing a smoke screen. A few seconds into it, there is the bright flash of an explosion by an apparent FPV drone.

The tank survived a close FPV drone strike. (Twitter screencap)

As the tank continues down the road, it manages to avoid hits from several more FPV drones, as well as taking one directly. We counted half a dozen FPV drones that attempted to take the tank out in the short video.

The FPV drones landed all around it. (Twitter screencap)

The video ends with the tank passing that immediate FPV gauntlet as it keeps on spewing smoke.

On this day, the tank emerged victorious. (Twitter screencap)

Another tweet locates the tank driving toward the city of Krasnohorivka in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

After holding a sizable advantage when it comes to fielding large amounts of FPV drones, Ukraine is now finding itself increasingly outgunned in this regard. Russia has up to seven times more FPV drones than Ukraine and has become adept at repurposing civilian drones for military use, according to Ukrainian army commander Yuriy Fedorenko in an interview with Suspilne public broadcaster on December 12.

"In priority frontline sectors, we have the following ratio: one of our drones to five or seven enemy drones,” Fedorenko said.

Both sides are in an all-out push to build as many FPV attack drones as possible as fast as they can as these systems are now being portrayed as rivaling artillery on the battlefield.

Regardless of how the balance of FPV drone capability on the battlefield in Ukraine shakes out, this video serves as stark and somewhat terrifying example of where warfare is headed. It's something The War Zone has warned of for many years — a major factor of who wins or loses future fights will be how many low-end drones they can deploy across the battlefield.

Defending against such a numerous and resilient onslaught has quickly become a top tactical problem of our age.

Contact the author: howard@thewarzone.com