Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Russian spies try to steal Ukrainian modern tank secrets

Ukraine’s security service, known by the acronym SBU, has reportedly thwarted attempts by the Russian spy to get secrets of the Ukrainian tank program.

A Russian spy was arrested on suspicion of acting as an illegal agent of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces (GRU) of the Russian Federation, Ukraine’s security service said.

SBU’s counterintelligence detained in Kharkiv an agent of the Russian military intelligence, who was performing the task of obtaining technical documentation on the development and production of the Ukrainian T-84BM Oplot main battle tank.


As part of the initiated criminal proceedings, the investigators and counterintelligence officers of the SBU documented that on assignments from Russian curators and access to classified information, the enemy agent tried to attract an employee of the state-owned Kharkiv Morozov Machine-Building Design Bureau, which carried out the development of the modern tank. Under the control of the SBU operatives, the agent received samples of technical materials from the employee and handed over the photocopies to the representative of Russia’s GRU military intelligence using the spent channels.

Now the spy has been informed of suspicion of committing a crime under Part 1 of Art. 111 (high treason) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, and the issue of choosing a preventive measure is being decided.

As noted by the SBU, investigative actions continue.

Photo by SBU
Photo by SBU

The Oplot is Ukraine’s latest main battle tank. It is fitted with next-generation Duplet Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA), which protects against tandem warheads. It is claimed to be superior to the Russian Kontakt 5 ERA armor. Protection of hull sides was also improved. The tank is fitted with a Shtora countermeasures system, which reduced the hit probability of enemy ATGW with semi-automatic guidance. It has been reported that this MBT can also be fitted with Zaslon active protection system.

This tank is operated by a crew of 3, including a commander, gunner and driver. There is no need for the loader, as the tank has an automatic ammunition loading system. The smaller crew allowed to reduce the overall dimensions of the vehicle, making it a smaller target on the battlefield.

Tanks of this type were ordered by the Royal Thai Army in 2011 and the U.S. Government has reached an agreement with the Ukrainian state arms export agency to supply several Oplot main battle tanks in 2020.

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Dylan Malyasov
Defense journalist and commentator. Aviation photographer. Dylan leads Defence Blog's coverage of global military news, focusing on engineering and technology across the U.S. defense industry.