Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Battle Tank lost

T-55AM2 MBT on 60th Independence Day celebrations

The Sri Lanka Army Armoured Corp lost a T-55 Main Battle Tank (MBT) in fighting that erupted along the LTTE's 2nd Forward Defence Line in Muhamalai around 9.30am today. Four men in the tank were also injured in the attack.

The Army believes an RPG-7 HEAT was fired by the tigers from a nearby cover which caused damages to the tank. The tank is not in a repairable condition, according to highly placed sources close to DefenceWire.

In a previous article dated April 8th 2008, we have discussed the possibilities of such an attack. Read 'Armour Protection Systems' for more details on this.


dhanushka said...

we seem to lose too many tanks and battles in Muhamalai, what's up with that ?

Sun Tzu's disciple said...

Tamilnet is indeed more reliable than many critics says--I was also starting to disbelieve as many posters were making fun of this story in DN!
And DW is also not bad at all:)

But the question is: How come a tank comes within RPG range(800ms)in a non-operational setting??
They should be in a fire-support role from waay behind the FDL while the infantry is in front.I simply dont understand it, unless the LTTE crept up into SLDF areas and pinged it?

Sun Tzu's disciple said...

Contrast this article with:
" We have not lost any battle tanks in the north today and there is no truth in what the LTTE is saying. We use only infantrymen in these areas to fight the Tigers,” Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said by phone."

He just does not know how to handle the media.While it is ok to deny losses(it is part of war)it should be in non-categorical terms to leave an escape route if caught.The above reply leaves him with no escape route and expose him as a liar now.

Rover said...


Do we have Iron Fist installed on at least some of our MBTs? The one that got destroyed, surely didn't. If not, is it logistically possible to get these?

Did the army use the MBTs to penetrate the LTTE defenses instead of in a fire support role?

Rover said...

"The above reply leaves him with no escape route and expose him as a liar now."

Unfortunately yes. But he is a military person, and could well be obeying an order from the top. Lying is an art, and can be often be useful if performed intelligently. But if 100s of soldiers saw the MBT going up in flames, and LTTE got photographs, there is no point in lying about a lost cause.

Sun Tzu's disciple said...


indeed .In war,Lying is a double edged sword. Used intelligently ,discreetly and sparingly (LTTE-propaganda)it can do wonders in convincing target audience.
Whereas used brainlessly, bombastically and frequently(GoSL-propaganda)it tends to severely dent credibility--even when they tell the truth.

Defencewire said...

We don't have Iron Fist. But we can get them if we pay a price.

Upul said...

From my news source, apparently the tank erupted into a fireball and all those inside perished.

A well made tank can mow through a battle, a 50s, 60s cheap crap thats in the SLA inventory is a death trap for its drivers.

Ogre said...






Sun Tzu's disciple said...


The tanks in SLAs inventory are enough for the opponent it faces and the terrain it operates in.As also the cost.There is no point in bringing in M1A1Abrams or a Merkava or Leopard to this war.

By the way, what happened to the few captured SLDF tanks in LTTEs armoury?Are they in usable condition?

Rover said...

"We don't have Iron Fist. But we can get them if we pay a price."

May I know what the price of an IF unit is?

We should get IF, before putting our guys in harms way. If we could get five Mig 29s, we surely must be able to get IF installed on at least the MBTs and personnel carriers that are on active duty in high-risk areas.

Unknown said...

Defencewire, when you say LTTE's 2nd defence line, is this their actual second line as it is now, or what used to be their 2nd line (which is now their 1st line after the army took over their former 1st)

LOL I hope I am being clear.

sldf said...

Defencewire, thanks for the update. As long as we did not loose any men, that's what matters. MBT's can be replaced unlike the valuable lives of men. Correct me if i'm wrong I thought the role of the MBTs to provide fire support to our offensive formations from behind and not to lead the way and fall onto man made LTTE pits and anti - tank "monster" mines. Last year the same victor unit took few AFV, and APC and two MBT's using the same mix of anti-tank RPG-7's, mines and camouflaged LTTE pits. Hope army learn from these mistakes. But they never learn.

MI24s are a better choice for CS.

perein said...

Tanks can be replaced, main thing is we saved our men.
"We wont die for our land, let them die for theirs"
We will learn and get them.

Sen said...

upul at least we have tanks, that we bought with our own money

Gringo said...

["Battle Tank lost"]

Ah ah....

So long as the wounded heroes are safe...no issue there...

And man... this shows that the fight is real... and it reminds us the stark that without a fight there won't any life for us because LTTE terrorists would kill us anyway... when we are asleep....

For Sri Lankans... killing of LTTE pigs must be made a national DUTY... and a daily promise to each other.... at meal times... never forgetting our solemn duty to make sure our troops and their families are close to hearts.

Peter said...

"So long as the wounded heroes are safe...no issue there..."

You have 200 000 soldiers and 60 tanks.

This incident sounds more like an LTTE cadre sneaking up the no-man's land to throw a hit rather than a lone tank gallantly rolling forward to be hit at the LTTE's second trenchline.

Rover said...

Most of the militarily advanced nations, especially the US, are now developing (not just making) more light armored vehicles, instead of tanks. Light armored vehicles are very fast, are not tracked and carry an array of weapon systems. With the advent of guided missiles and advanced helicopters, the tanks will have a poor chance of survival in large scale conventional warfare between nations. The Iraqi war, were we witnessed the almost complete annihilation of the Iraqi tanks is a good example for this. However, since US has the air superiority, they will keep using tanks for a while.

Tanks are very useful as a concentrated breaching force, but for this, many tanks, acting in unison are needed. In WWII, Patton and Rommel used this strategy effectively. Otherwise, they should be used in a fire support role for the infantry. A slightly different role a tank can play is to set up tank traps to get at enemy armored vehicles. Tank traps were extensively used by Rommel when the allied forces made their advance from Normandy toward Germany; but in our war against the LTTE, we will probably never see this.

We do not know if the lone tank that got destroyed was a part of a breaching force or performing a fire control role, or just training.

Some say that loosing a tank is nothing. Yes. It is nothing given that about 450 Allied tanks were lost (against about 80? Panzers) when Erwin advanced towards the Atlantic through France. But for a country like Sri Lanka, which has about 70 MBTs, loosing a tank is not an insignificant loss either.

For Sri Lanka, armored tanks will be useful, if they are used in conjunction with proper armor and safety systems that Def.wire outlined a while ago. If the LTTE has rockets that can penetrate the armor of our tanks, it is not such a good idea to send them off into battle knowing that a single rocket/missile can blow them up. We really need to look into upgrading our armor and investing in anti rocket systems (like Iron Fist).

As much as the presence of a MBT is a moral booster for the troops, seeing the destruction of a formidable tank is a moral dampener.

Rover said...

Morale not moral. Excuse me.

CASC said...

Even if the LTTE have some old T-55relics left behind in the battlefield, they will not be able to use them. Tanks must be carried on tank carriers to the battlefield. Tracks need to be frequently replaced. Hydraulic systems needs to be serviced,etc.

Unknown said...

Rover a major strategy for the Sri Lankan armed forces in comming months is to use an armoured spearhead to break the impass of the Muhumalai battle. Hence even though light armoured is being propogated, it was not sucessful in Iraq. Nothing beats the M1. RPG rounds were bouncing of its armour.

Patton was a nut case. Rommel was a genius. Winston churcil praised Rommel indirectly during a parliment sitting during the second world war. Eishenhower was a good leader and had half a mind to kick Patton out.

Rommel raised through the ranks whereas Patton used his family connections. His family had famous civil war veteran etc.

Unknown said...

Peter , Sri Lanka has more than 60 tanks and arrays of armoured vehicles.


Unknown said...

Sun Tzu's disciple, the tanks maybe sufficient to face the LTTE but they are equally more venurable to the modern missle sytems available in the black market like this case.

Likewise we are not going to get 1950 aircraft to fight the LTTE Zlins.

Unknown said...

Senkadagala Sinhaya, the tanks are not cheap. Hence if the LTTE got them for free, its still aboost especially one that is undamaged and useable.

Unknown said...

"Rover a major strategy for the Sri Lankan armed forces in comming months is to use an armoured spearhead to break the impass of the Muhumalai battle. "

Perhaps this has begun already, Tamilnet is reporting heavy fighting along the National front.

DW any info on this? Thanks.

Unknown said...

The LTTE probaily has incoporated all its captured armour into the Imaran Pandiyan group. They could have enough to found a stand alone regiment. This would include the buffels etc.

Armour is not cheap to maintain. Its not only tracks, fuel, servicing of the turret, drain plugs, filters, donalstrum etc etc. However as the vehicles spares will not be too difficult to procure on the black market and through cannibalising existing vehicles or damaged battlefield ones. Most standing armies do this.

Like ammunition left behind, the Army might have left tracks etc in the stores in places like elephant pass. Likewise the LTTE has dug trenches in Muhumalai before to capture AIFV and tanks as they have did now. This helps their inventory.

The LTTE reportely got a SLA rouge officer to train them.However armour trined personnel are so common, you could pick anyone from most countries to train them. After all the LTTE are maintaining an air wing now.

On hindsight, the SLA has an armoured or mechanised division. It has much more on its back icluding recovery vehicles. A recovery vehicle is as imporant as an armoured tank. They go into the field to recover vehciles and can do some emergency repairs on the field itself.

Sun Tzu's disciple said...


Agreed.But i was talking of cost-benefit ratio, and quality vs numbers.These things matter a lot to a poor nation who has to decide on costly toys while its populace is struggling to feed itself.

There was big hullaballoo re capture of a 'Lima Base3'in the media and DN.After going through Peters post in DN I had a good laugh too like him.You can also have some fun(:

The SLDF is badly-led in the propaganda front methinks.

Moshe Dyan said...

few complexities.

1. MBT's firepower is essential for advancing troops

2. mechanised infantry is supposed to speed-up the movement of troops and act counter to small LTTE teams including anti-tank units

3. mechanised infantry vehicles themselves are vulnerable to RPG attacks!!

4. two RPG grenades at the right sopt is more than enough to destroy a T-55 (and many other tanks in the world)

5. apart from these there are "monster" anti-tank mines, large traps that can trap a MBT, trenches that MBTs, IFVs, etc. got to overcome

6. all this is happeneing amidst shelling in a battlefiled situ. and arti. fire that is rather consistant.

7. ther are only a very few number of paths the SLA can take towards EP.

8. high possibility of LTTE flank attacks

9. LTTE anti-tank guys are scattered making it difficult for a gunship to target effectively. however, gunships must be used simultaneously when advancing.

10. the 2006 debacle lost almost 12 (or 18) AFVs including MBTs. things are not much diffenrent this time considering point 3 above.

11. active protection systems is a must for tanks and IFVs.

12. what is the possibility of setting fire to LTTE FDLs and beyond? do we have flamethrowers, preferably tanks, vehicels capable of doing it?

we had RPO-Shmels capable of igniting above ground fire. the wet season has passed slowly and the next 6 months will be very very dry.

a large and engulfing fire can disturb (if not kill) the anti-tank unit's guys. it may also concentrate them into a few 'safe' locations when they can be targeted.

use of flamethrowers in the battlefiled not using hazardous chemicals is still allowed.

Rover said...


"Hence even though light armoured is being propogated, it was not sucessful in Iraq. Nothing beats the M1. RPG rounds were bouncing of its armour."

Yes, in Iraq, it is not warfare between two conventional armies. My point was whoever have has got air superiority will be able to target the tanks with ease.

Abrams are awesome tanks. No doubt about that. There targetting system is so sophisticated that enemy tanks can be destroyed even before they know that an Abram is is prowling around. Yes, and it can't be taken down by most infantry weapons. Only ONE Abram was destroyed in Iraq, and even this by a mine, not by a rocket. But the downside is is its weight (60 colossal tons). The US's largest military cargo plane can carry only one Abram (when fitted with side armor as well) at a time. So it is cumbersome to deploy these rapidly.

But I know for a fact that US is perusing the development of light armored vehicles as force multipliers.

Yes, Erwin Rommel is the best tank commander ever. But his death was tragic. After all that he did for Germany, he was suspected of playing a part in the General's conspiracy to get rid of Hitler. Hitler gave him a choice. He could commit suicide, or his family would be shot dead. He chose the former. But Hitler showed respected for him by publicly mourning for him (something I can imagine VP doing).

If Rommel was allowed to execute his plan to counter the allied invasion of Normandy, the history could have been altered. Rommel wanted to assault the Allied forces as they landed, using battle tank formations. But other commanders disagreed. Rommel was only allowed to use, as I mentioned earlier, tank traps.

Rover said...

yes, Rommel was only allowed to use tank traps after the allied forces advanced inland.

Unknown said...

For one TANK 100 LTTE MF lives :-)
It has been started on Nothern front...
Peter, STZ start counting dead bodies...

Unknown said...

"andare said...
TANK incident is confirmed by the RAW operated defencewire.

April 23, 2008 9:18 AM

Andare what is this about? Why are you disparaging DW on Defencenet yet you are posting here again?

Are you an LTTEr pretending to be something else trying to stir trouble between the blogs?

You know most of us read and respect both so this will not work.

Unknown said...

Rover, after africa Rommel knew that the war was lost as the american tank production rate and their use of armoured warfare would surely defeat the germans.

He did his best he could for his country. However he should not be forgiven for turning a blind eye to the extermination of people. He did not partake but was aware of it. He himself never killed the enemey if it was unecessary.

moshe dyan good points. The blog should move in this direction rather then people trying to insult each other and using vulgarities. Whether Pro government or Pro LTTE, argue your points out.

Gunship should not be wasted in taking out RPG personnel. This should be carried out by snipers etc (more counter infantry)

Moshe Dyan said...

yea; there is little sense in using gunships to attack RPG teams.

But there will be concentrated RPG team guys, monster bomb laying guys, their transporters, LTTE groups readying for flank/box attacks (like in 2006). Also gunships can target arti. positions when they are in full swing.

Sandun Dasanayake said...

DefenceWire... Any News BAout this...

Army Capture Muhamale FDL

san said...

Heavy Fighting Erupts in Muhamale; Fifteen Brave Soldiers Lay Their Lives army.lk
JAFFNA: TROOPS after a fierce multi-pronged counter attack on the Tiger terrorists in MUHAMALE Wednesday (23) early morning, in response to an LTTE terrorist strike earlier on the day to overrun Army bunkers, thrust themselves into enemy defences capturing an area of about 400 – 500 metres, ahead of the Forward Defence Line (FDL).

Rover said...

Navindran, the US's strategy for tank warfare in WWII was different. US had smaller lighter tanks which can maneuver quickly, hence the plan was to engage several tanks for a single Panzer. US was able to implement this plan as they were wealthier.

Rover said...

I hope SLA does not get emotional over the destruction of a single tank. I hope the attack that we are seeing are not a major offensive in retaliation for the lost tank.

Emotional armies become predictable. LTTE would be waiting for army to make a move, soon after the destruction of the tank, if the LTTE knows that the SLA is emotional.

Rover said...

Listen up for a sec. This may sound silly, but think it through.

Trenches are a problem for most tank formations. So to overcome the trenches, why can't we make a simple device to show the trenches in advance?

We could make something like a heavy cart (even a tracked cart, or dummy tank or a tractor) that is pushed along using an MBT. The cart should be connected to the tank in such a way that it can suddenly fall without dragging the MBt with it. This could even be used as a mine breaching system.

san said...


LKDOOD said...

just logged in & this :(


52 LTTE & 38 soldiers killed

how can that be ?

normally LTTE VS SLA DEATH rate is higher


how far is EP from the current SLA positions ?

tangara said...


It was a major battle...
Looks like the casualities are much higher.

Sun Tzu's disciple said...

The SLA casualties seen in Puthinam are heartrending.These soldiers look like teens or just older, in the prime of life. What a tragedy. How many mothers are crying tonight.

Why dont you guys get down from your high horses and try to settle with some give and take?But only cries of exultation or threats of revenge heard.
The soldiers seem to have died from indirect fire--eg artillery or mortar as their clothes are shred but not their body.The LTTE trenches appear massive(dual purpose of anti-tank and bunker?).The spent AK cartridges attest to the desperate fight by the bunker defenders.

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