It is increasingly unlikely that the war in Ukraine will be resolved by next summer’s Olympic Games, but some on social media suggested this week that Kyiv’s forces were already “training” for a future military-themed event – namely the “turret launch.” That was clear after a video circulated on social media on Monday that showed the destruction of a Russian T-72 tank, which was struck by a man-portable anti-tank rocket launcher.
In a nearly two-minute long video that was shared on X – the social media platform formerly known as Twitter – a Ukrainian kamikaze drone strikes the Russian-made main battle tank, which sends its turret flying several dozen meters as the vehicle’s hull is engulfed in flames.
This so-called “jack-in-the-box” effect has been a known flaw in the Cold War-era tank and was encountered by U.S.-led coalition forces in the 1991 Gulf War when a number of Iraqi T-72s were destroyed in a similar fashion. At issue is the use of an autoloader that feeds ordnance that is stored within the turret. The Kremlin had reportedly known about the flaw but had done little to address the issue, and as a result, hundreds of T-72 MBTs have been destroyed in the past 19 months of fighting in Ukraine.
“Another Russian T-72 attempted to break the record for the ‘longest turret flight.’ To achieve such a result, the AFU needed slightly less than $1,000, compared to the tank’s cost of 3-4 million dollars. Ukrainian forces are using FPV drones, with extremely high efficiency compared to their cost,” @saintjavelin tweeted, while sharing the video that has since gone viral on X.
New Sport: Tank Targeting
It could further be argued that teams from both Russia and Ukraine have turned the hunting of tanks with loitering munitions or so-called kamikaze drones into something of a sport.
As noted by the social media posts, the small unmanned aerial systems have proven to be a low-cost solution to destroying expensive MBTs and other platforms from a safe distance. Shared to social media, such footage has also proven to be quite the propaganda coup, and based on the recent clip the competition aspect is increasingly played up.
Russia’s Only Competition – And It Isn’t Winning
Since the Cold War, Moscow has used sports as a media tool – but its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has left the country largely isolated from the world stage. A number of international athletic bodies have banned Russian athletes from competing in sanctioned events including those at the Paris Olympics next summer – and that has dashed the hopes for those who have prepared for their entire lives to compete in the games and other major sporting events.
Earlier this month, the French government announced that no Russian flags will be allowed to fly at next summer’s Olympic Games in Paris. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) also made clear that Russian and Belarusian athletes will be allowed to compete as neutrals – without a national flag or anthem – in international competitions.
Ukraine had waged a campaign to have Russian and Belarusian competitors banned and Kyiv had threatened to boycott events, only to reverse course as athletes from those countries will have to compete under a neutral banner. It has further been announced that even though some of those individuals may qualify, there remains the possibility that some still won’t be allowed or otherwise able to travel to Paris.
For now, it appears that the Kremlin has failed to achieve victory in its “special military operation,” and has been banned from international competitions. Based on these social media videos the Kremlin is even losing the propaganda campaign. And now Kyiv might continue to see how far it can launch T-72 turrets!
Another Russian T-72 attempted to break the record for the “longest turret flight.” To achieve such a result, the AFU needed slightly less than $1,000, compared to the tank’s cost of 3-4 million dollars.
Ukrainian forces are using FPV drones, with extremely high efficiency… pic.twitter.com/drzUChjdEP
— Saint Javelin (@saintjavelin) September 18, 2023
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.