Turtle Tanks and Drone Intelligence-Russia Might be Winning-What’s the Frequency Kenneth?


De Faakto Intelligence Research Observatory


Turtle Tanks and Drone Intelligence-Russia Might be Winning-What’s the Frequency Kenneth?


Research & Analysis- S.A. Cavanagh


Methodology-Open Source Research 



Drones versus Heavy Tanks in Ukraine-A numerically superior Fleet of Russian Armour is proving heavy Tanks may allow Russia to establish battlefield dominance in the war in Ukraine. Ukrainian Drones while hindering Russian forward momentum may not be able to stop Russia from taking significant territories from Ukraine.


Background & Analysis

Russia has shown that heavy Armor is not outdated, and remains key to winning the war in Ukraine. Russia’s massive fleet of tanks, even with the high attrition rate has taken and held more ground then Ukraine, despite Ukraine’s prolific and lethal drone use. Donated NATO armour, operated by Ukraine has fared no better against Russia’s drone forces. Ukraine has demonstrated it cannot repair, refurbish and return damaged tanks back to the battlefield as quickly as Russians do.  On top of Russian ability to return tanks to the battlefield, Russia continues to find and restore mothballed tanks to send to the frontlines. Russia is currently refurbishing and building over 100 new tanks each month with 86% refurbished models, this is a significant industrial military strength. Remarkably as of 2024, Russia may have as many as 4000 tanks in storage, which can be upgraded and sent to Ukraine. What Russia’s military industry is missing though; is the capacity to field explosive reactive armour and more anti drone technology.  Ukraine in fear of loosing all its armoured fleet to fighting; at the direction of US advisors, has withdrawn Abrams and Leopard tanks from the battlefield and placed them in reserve, until Ukraine can find and deploy drone countermeasures that reduce losses to Russian drone attacks. “When you think about the way the fight has evolved,” says US Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Adm. Christopher Grady, “massed armour in an environment where unmanned aerial systems are ubiquitous can be at risk.” Primarily designed to punch a way through defensive positions held by infantry in trenches, even state-of-the-art battle tanks like the Abrams and Leopard 2 have suffered considerable losses against Russian drones. This has led to a kind of arms race, with each side attempting to modify and augment their tanks’ defences. The Russians have largely focused on installing slat armour, chain link fencing, and even makeshift ‘cope cages’ made from bed frames and other scrap metal to deflect or detonate drone munitions before they hit the actual tank armour. Both sides are also changing their operational doctrines, using more dispersed formations, concealing tanks under overhead cover, and deploying drone detection systems and electronic countermeasures. While tanks are still vital for combined arms operations, their previously near-invulnerable status on the battlefield has been diminished by drone warfare. The key to winning the war in Ukraine appears to be which side can build, & refurbish heavy armour while keeping their tanks operating in the forefront of the battlefield, something Russia seems to be doing remarkably well.


Are Russia's explosive-laden first-person-view drones the biggest threat to tanks on both sides of the 600-mile front line of Russia's 23-month wider war on Ukraine? - Quora

Image of PG-7V Grenade Payload on a Drone-Unknown Source


The Drone Threat

  • Small battlefield First Person drones that carry light explosives, such as grenade and the RPG rounds are not effective penetrating frontal and side armour of Russian tanks, and armoured fighting vehicles. The venerable PG-7V, introduced in 1961 and normally fired from the veteran RPG-7 launcher, the anti-tank weapon of choice for insurgent groups from the Vietnam War, Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, weighs around 3 pounds, close to the limit of what a small FP drone can carry and still fly. Experienced & well trained drone operators can locate and fly explosive drone payloads into the rear of the turret or other weak spots on the vehicle to penetrate the hull.  Penetrations into the hull of Russian T-series tank can affect a complete crew-vehicle kill. The reality on the battlefields of Ukraine is that drone attacks on heavy armour do not always result in a complete kill.  Inexpensive commercial drones which carry a payload of grenades, mortar bombs or other explosives are remarkably effective on soft skinned vehicles, all terrain vehicles and infantry in the open.


View from a 500 USD drone with a RPG-7 warhead (another 50 USD). This is all you need to smash more than a dozen Russians, their gear and their truck. Another Russian

Image of a First Person View Drone with PG-7V Grenade Payload moments before striking Russian Infantry riding on armour-Courtesy of Reddit


Drone Countermeasures

Drone countermeasures for heavy armour and light infantry vehicles include passive and active systems; some are high tech options while others are low tech solutions


Russian T-90M tanks with bizarre-looking ad hoc armor fit

Russian T-90 Tanks with factory grade Slat Armour Coping Cage-Courtesy of Bulgarian Military


Russia has begun a full-scale invasion in Ukraine [READ STAFF POSTS] News | Page 629 | ResetEra

Image of Field Adapted Armour Russian Logistics-Courtesy of the Web


Russian Tank With 'Cope Cage,' Explosive Reactive Armor, 60% OFF

Image Russian T-72 with Chicken Wire Netting Drone Countermeasures-Courtesy of ACGS


Russian Tank With 'Cope Cage' Covered In Explosive Reactive Armor Emerges

Image of Russian Tank Thought to be a T-72 with Coping Cage and Explosive Reactive Armour-Courtesy of Yahoo


Passive Systems-Drone Countermeasures

  • Are options such as shields, barriers (Turret Coping Cages, Metal link Fencing, Chains, Chicken Wire, Logs & lumber
  • Russian tanks are often spotted with improvised metal roofs layered with metal grills
  • Ukrainian social media channels have nicknamed these vehicles turtle tanks, while Russian telegram accounts have referred to them as “Tsar Mangal” or tsar’s BBQ
  • The Ukrainians, with their more limited resources, have improvised reactive armour from sandbags, rubber mats, and even wood planking


New Russian Mobile Anti-Drone System – UAS VISION

Image of Russian Drone Jamming Systems-Courtesy of UAS Vision


Russia Unveils Portable Tank-Mounted Drone Jammer to Counter Ukrainian  Attacks

Image Thought to be Drone Jammers Mounted on Russian T-90 Tank-Courtesy of Army Recognition


Ukraine Situation Report: Russian Anti-Drone Electronic Warfare Tank  Captured

Image of Russian T-72 with hastily fitted Drone Jamming Gear on Turret-Courtesy of The War Zone


Russia and Ukraine rapidly accelerate C-UAS capabilities in face of new  drone threats - Unmanned airspace

Image of Anti Drone Jamming Gun-Courtesy of Unmanned Airspace



Active Systems-Drone Countermeasures Kinetic & Non-Kinetic


  • Active systems Non-Kinetic are designed to interrupt or jam the drone’s control signals, some may transmit false GPS signals, or engage cyber warfare (hacking), confusing the drone’s systems and disrupting any pre-loaded flight plans. It is worth noting that it is difficult to jam the drone’s transmission signals since this signal is considerably stronger than the command signals (Forbes, 2023)
  • Ukrainian soldiers have been seen carrying “anti-drone rifles” which are a non-kinetic system that sends a directed radio pulse to disrupt a drone



Ukraine Gets Unique Slinger Anti-Drone Weapon Station From Australian EOS |  Defense ExpressImage of Kinetic Slinger Anti Drone System Deployed in Ukraine-Courtesy of Defense Express




  • Kinetic active systems are expensive air defense systems that track incoming drones, and shoot them down with kinetic energy- bullets, rockets or laser energy weapons
  • Most kinetic counter-drone systems incorporate a sensor, such as radar, to detect the drone and a motorized platform to aim and fire the weapon (Forbes, 2023)


Orlan-10 UAVs From Russia to Armenia - The Cyber Shafarat - Membership only  site

Image of Russian Orlan 10-Courtesy of Russian Government



Russia is Countering Drone Countermeasures-This is Hurting Ukraine

  • Russia uses the Orlan-10 drone which have advanced autonomous flight capabilities that limit the effectiveness of jamming
  • Should the Ukrainians deploy a kinetic counter-drone systems against these drones, the Russian electronic warfare teams pick up the radar signals and target those locations with precision artillery
  • As such, it is difficult to counter these drones, which in turn has slowed down the Ukrainian counteroffensive


Secrets of the Peresvet complex: how does the Russian laser sword work?

Image of What Russia Claims to be the Peresvet Operational Anti Drone Laser said to be deployed in Ukraine, thought to be Non Operational and Psychological Warfare Misinformation-Courtesy of Forces.Net


Russia Braggs about its Lasers

  • Yury Borisov, the deputy prime minister in charge of military development boasted in a news conference that, “it was using a new generation of powerful lasers in Ukraine to burn up drones, deploying some of Moscow’s secret weapons to counter a flood of Western arms”
  • Borisov specifically cited a test where “he said lasers had burned up a Ukrainian drone 5 km away within five seconds.” He also supported Putin’s 2018 claim that the Russians had developed a laser weapon called Peresvet which could “blind satellites up to 1,500 km above Earth” (Reuters, 2024)


Ukraine Adopts Turkish BTS 12 Shotgun for Anti-Drone Warfare

Image of Turkish BTS Shotgun for Anti Drone Warfare-Courtesy of Army Recognition


Shotguns for Countering Drones

Defaakto classifies the shotgun as a passive kinetic system

  • Shotguns are limited, but remain a practical solution for drone threats
  • The shot gunner must have visual contact with the drone, therefore is less suitable countering high flying or stealth drones which are generally advanced reconnaissance and attack systems (Forbes, 2023)
  • The shotgun is easy to use inexpensive and effective against fast moving targets, and hovering objects
  • Shotguns, being relatively simple to operate and maintain, allow for rapid deployment and response to drone threats without the need for extensive training or specialized equipment. This accessibility ensures that a broader range of forces can engage aerial threats, not just specialized units (Army Recognition, 2024)


Tanks – The Armourers Bench

Image Russian Turtle Tank Courtesy of- The Armorers Bench


The Main Battle Tank Has A Future | by James Marinero, MSc, MBA | The Dock  on the Bay | Apr, 2024 | Medium

Image of a Disabled Russian Turtle Tank/Mine Roller Courtesy of -Medium


Coping Cages & Turtle Tanks-What’s the Intelligence Kenneth?

Turtle Tanks

  • Andriy Yusov, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate
  • According to Yusov, these bulky constructions on the Turtle Tanks, are normally made from improvised materials, need to be supported by the crew from other armoured vehicles, because the Turtle is peripherally blind
  • The Turtle Shells do limit the effectiveness and complicate the use of Ukraine’s drones against them [Translated] (Kyiv Post, 2024)


11840 ∙ T-62MV ∙ Kherson oblast ∙ WarSpotting — documented material losses  in Russo-Ukrainian war

Image of early Coping Cage Protection Mounted on a T-62 Tank -Courtesy Russo Ukraine Warspotting


Coping Cages

  • In October (2023), Russia’s Uralvagonzavod unveiled new production T-72B3 tanks already fitted with its own design of standardized anti-drone canopy
  • Russia’s RIA Novosti reported that “the standardized canopy was developed taking into account the artisanal structures that tankers of the Russian Armed Forces created on their own to protect the key parts of the tank from drones, as well as analyzing the effectiveness of these artisanal canopies in combat situations”
  • The Rostec state corporation said that the factory-made canopy was created to protect the roofs of T-72B3 tanks, adding that “this simple but effective solution was suggested by the experience gained during the SVO [special military operation].”
  • The design protects the vehicles and crews well from kamikaze drones and ammunition dropped from drones. Previously, troops used to make such canopies in a handicraft way. Now, new tanks are being equipped with the protective grid as standard equipment”


Video Courtesy of Forces.Net & YouTube




Federico Borsari-Washington-based Center for European Policy Analysis think tank

  • Ukrainian and Russian forces are scrambling to field countermeasures for protecting tanks against one-way attack drones, which experts say are a growing challenge
  • In the category of unmanned aerial vehicles, first-person-view drones, essentially steerable miniature warheads, have emerged as a ubiquitous threat
  • One-way attack drones such as FPV or loitering munitions provide a beyond-line-of-sight capability that enables the operator to follow tanks to their concealed staging areas or departure points and strike them 24/7
  • These systems can also chase and strike moving tanks in their most vulnerable points
  • In the case of the turtle tank, “add-on log armour and metal plates, installed to create a full-fledged metal shell completely covering three sides and the top of the tank, make it impossible to rotate the turret and significantly limit the vehicle’s visibility,”
  • Russian and Ukrainian forces have also made extensive use of different electronic warfare capabilities, including mounting multi-frequency jammers on the roof of tanks to disrupt or jam the radio-frequencies of adversary drones
  • Analysts consider electronic warfare to be the most promising defense against small drone variants, creating a “constant cat and mouse game (Defense News, 2024)


Samuel Bendett-research analyst at the U.S.-based Center for Naval Analyses think tank

  • The threat posed by drone munitions has reportedly led U.S. officials to request that donated Abrams main battle tanks no longer be used on the front lines until commanders come up with tactics to protect the armour
  • Tanks used as “breaching vehicles in frontal attacks” have proven to be especially vulnerable
  • Recently a number of Russian tanks were spotted sporting unusual types of armour, including improvised metal roofs layered with metal grills
  • The purpose of these countermeasures is to set off drones’ explosive charge early in order to decrease the chance of projectiles penetrating the hull
  • Results are mixed
  • Footage has emerged on Telegram showing FPV drones damaging and immobilizing combat vehicles in Ukraine, but experts highlight that destroying a tank requires the deployment of several of these weapons by experienced pilots.
  • “At this point, successful FPV attacks against tanks are contingent on pilot experience – it takes a lot to destroy a tank, and only the best and most experienced ones can manoeuvre their drone at exactly the right spot to strike (Defense News, 2024)



Video Courtesy of WION YouTube







Ukraine, Russia race to shield battle tanks from exploding drones-Defense News-Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo(2024) https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2024/05/14/ukraine-russia-race-to-shield-battle-tanks-from-exploding-drones/

The Challenges Of Counter-Drone Technology As Seen In Recent Conflicts-Forbes-Vikram Mittal (2023) https://www.forbes.com/sites/vikrammittal/2023/10/18/the-challenges-of-counter-drone-technology-as-seen-in-recent-conflicts/?sh=5353c4e27013

Analysis: Shotguns Emerge as a Frontline Defense Against Drones in Evolving Military and Security Tactics-Army Recognition Staff Analysts (2024) https://armyrecognition.com/news/army-news/2024/analysis-shotguns-emerge-as-a-frontline-defense-against-drones-in-evolving-military-and-security-tactics

Russian ‘Barn Tanks’ Deployed to Counter Ukrainian Drone Strikes-Kyiv Post-Kateryna Zakharchenko (2024) https://www.kyivpost.com/post/33022

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: the role of counter-drone technologies-Air Force Technology-Staff (2024) https://www.airforce-technology.com/analyst-comment/russia-invasion-ukraine-counter-drone-technologies/?cf-view

How Precision FPV Drone Strikes Turn Russian Tanks Into Fireballs-Forbes-David Hambling (2024) https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidhambling/2023/12/28/how-precision-fpv-drone-strikes-turn-russian-tanks-into-fireballs/?sh=339153374398

Ukraine Situation Report: Russian Anti-Drone Electronic Warfare Tank Captured-The Warzone-THOMAS NEWDICK (2024) https://www.twz.com/news-features/ukraine-situation-report-russian-anti-drone-electronic-warfare-tank-captured

The Dash for Defense: Protecting Tanks from Drone Attacks-Polymer Nano Centrum-Simon Hilton (2024) https://blog.polymernanocentrum.cz/the-dash-for-defence-protecting-tanks-from-drone-attacks/