As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drags on, a number of unusual pieces of Russian military equipment have found their way into Ukrainian — and as a result, Western — hands. Some speak to previously undisclosed efforts to field advanced military capabilities, while others pose more questions than answers, like the presence of American microchips in Russian missiles.
This article was inspired, in part, by a recent upload from the YouTube channel Dark5 on the same topic — though our list differs from theirs. If you’re interested in this topic, their video is well worth a watch as well.
With overwhelming numbers and technological superiority, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was expected by many to usher in swift victory for Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime. But after eight months into the fighting, Russian forces find themselves out-maneuvered, losing ground, and seemingly stuck on their back foot. This fumbled “special military operation” has created a litany of problems for Putin and for the Russian people — from far-reaching sanctions further strangling the nation’s stagnant economy to a growing sense that it’s not just Putin’s legacy now in jeopardy, but the legitimacy of his leadership itself.
But even if Putin were removed from power today, Russia’s woes would still be just beginning.
“On any given Sunday…”
Here at Sandboxx News, our own Stavros Atlamazoglou has been publishing daily updates on the situation in Ukraine for months now, bolstered by both open-source reporting and direct communications with the Mozart Group, operating within the embattled nation. As of November 8, Putin’s forces are said to have lost over 77,000 troops (with significantly more wounded or captured), nearly 2,800 tanks, and more than 500 air and rotorcraft.
It’s important to note that before the invasion, many considered Russia to be among the most dominant military forces on the planet. In fact, the 2022 Global Firepower Index ranks Russia as the second most powerful military, ranked just above China.
Yet, Ukraine’s defiant stand in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds has proven to be a case study in both the apparent effectiveness of Russia’s perception-management campaigns regarding military strength in years past, as well as the longstanding football axiom (attributed to De Benneville “Bert” Bell), “On Any Given Sunday, any team can beat any other team.”
But Russia’s loss of personnel, equipment, and global prestige aren’t the only challenges facing the Russian military regardless of the outcome of this war… the financially strained nation will also be facing a technological deficit thanks to a number of seemingly advanced weapon systems and other pieces of gear left behind by fleeing Russian troops. This grants the West unprecedented access to Russia’s latest and greatest weapons of war.
Related: How Ukrainian soldiers are using drones to fight Russians on the ground
The strangest pieces of Russian military equipment recovered in Ukraine so far
5. T-80UM2 Black Eagle: A one-of-a-kind prototype tank
The T-80UM2 was a prototype main battle tank developed and built in the late 1990s. It’s so similar to the now-defunct Russian “Black Eagle” tank concept that many believe it to be the program’s sole prototype. It was first revealed to the public during a brief demonstration in Omsk, Russia in 1997, though at the time it was equipped with a non-functional mock-up of the forthcoming “Black Eagle” turret, which was expected to be completed in 1999.
The tank was based on the long-serve Russian T-80 and bore a striking resemblance to its predecessor externally, though internally, it was quite different. Most notably, the crew positions were reversed, with the gunner on the right and the commander on the left and with hatches for each. Another incredibly important change came in the form of ammunition storage — moving it from just below the turret to a bustle, or external storage bin, mounted on the rear of the turret.
Had the tank gone into production, this could have alleviated the “jack in the box” design flaw shown in combat footage from Ukraine, with Russian tanks having their turrets blown off when the munitions stored just below detonate. The T-80UM2 was also equipped with Russia’s Drozd-2 active protection system, which is supposed to use onboard radar to detect incoming missiles or rockets and then automatically intercept them with high-explosive fragmentation munitions.
As far as we know, only a single prototype T-80UM2 was ever built, so it came as a real surprise when its wreckage was discovered among a number of other Russian tanks and vehicles destroyed on March 17 in Northeastern Ukraine.
Related: Russia has lost more than 2,000 tanks in Ukraine
4. Krasukha-4 command module: Russia’s Electronic Warfare boogeyman
From the onset of the invasion through April, Russian forces poured over the Ukrainian border from both Russia and Belarus in an ill-fated attempt to capture the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. This campaign, known to some as the Kyiv Offensive, was shortlived — with Russian forces suffering heavy losses amid what became a miles-long traffic jam of military armor and equipment.
As Russian troops made their hasty withdrawal from the area surrounding Kyiv, Ukrainian troops recovered countless Russian tanks and other vehicles, weapons, ammunition… and one very unusual shipping container.
The outside of the mostly non-descript steel box looked like it could have been found on any cargo ship or train car, but once Ukrainian troops stepped inside, they found a treasure trove of Russian electronic warfare (EW) equipment. The shipping container, it turned out, housed the command module for Russia’s most modern and advanced electronic warfare system, the Krasukha-4.
Related: How Ukrainian soldiers are using drones to fight Russians on the ground
This system is so powerful, it was designed to neutralize intelligence-gathering Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) spy satellites, ground-based radars, and airborne radars (AWACS) at ranges of 150 to 300 kilometers (about 90-185 miles). In fact, it’s believed to be so powerful that it can not only jam, but physically damage enemy EW and communications systems. Just how capable this system is has been the subject of some speculation since 2014, as it’s played a prominent role in discussions about advanced Russian EW capabilities.
A complete system includes both a command module and a jammer module — only the former was recovered in Ukraine, but it will provide Western militaries with a treasure trove of intelligence regarding Russian electronic warfare technology, capabilities, and tactics.
Related: How effective is Russia’s Nebo-M counter-stealth radar?
3. Previously unknown Iskander missile decoys
Russia’s 9K720 Iskander is a road-mobile short-range ballistic missile. It’s a nuclear-capable weapon that serves as the basis for Russia’s Kh47M2 Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missile that drew headlines around the world following Putin’s claims of putting the world’s first hypersonic missile into service.
While not technically an actual hypersonic missile in the modern sense, the Iskander and its Kinzhal-sibling are thought to be extremely difficult to intercept thanks to their combination of high speed, a depressed ballistic flight path, and Russia’s claims that they can sustain 30 G maneuvers in flight. Of course, like many Russian claims regarding defense technology, there is a discussion about just how capable these missiles truly are. In fact, there are reports that an Iskander missile fired in 2020 by Armenia at Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, was intercepted by the Israeli-made Barak-8 air defense system that was first fielded in 2016.
Not long after the Iskander began seeing use in Ukraine, reports surfaced of dart-like munitions found embedded in earth and pavement around the country. Inspection of these apparent weapons revealed no explosives inside, proving that they hadn’t simply failed to detonate and suggesting they had a different purpose than destroying targets.
Further inspection revealed onboard electronics capable of broadcasting radio signals means to jam or spoof the radar leveraged by opposing air defense systems, as well as a heat source seemingly meant to distract infrared-guided interceptors.
Commonly known as “penetration aids,” these unusual Russian equipment have been around since the ’70s, intended for use aboard ICBMs to prevent them from being intercepted during a nuclear war.
“The minute people came up with missiles, people started trying to shoot them down, and the minute people started trying to shoot them down, people started thinking about penetration aids,” Jeffrey Lewis, a professor of nonproliferation at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, Calif., told the New York Times.
“But we never see them because they’re highly secret — if you know how they work, you can counteract them.”
These Iskander penetration aids had been a tightly-held Russian secret, seemingly not even sold with the export versions of the weapon. The decision to use them in Ukraine has been seen as a highly questionable one — either indicating a level of carelessness among Russian forces or even desperation — as their use would invariably result in them ending up in NATO’s hands.
“They’re digging deep, and maybe they no longer care, but I would care if I were them,” explained Lewis. “I think that there are some very excited people in the U.S. intelligence community right now.”
Related: How Russia fooled the world about its ‘hypersonic’ Kinzhal
2. PFM-1: Kid-killing “Butterfly Mines”
The PFM-1 is a weapon described by the British Imperial War Museum not as an anti-infantry mine, but rather as a minelet, for good reason. These small and often colorful explosive devices look a lot like a discarded toy, measuring just about four and a half inches long, less than two and a half inches wide, and a bit more than a half-inch thick. Inside the unusually shaped weapon, you’ll find about 40 grams of liquid explosive and a pressure-activated mini-fuse. The sensitive fuse can detonate the weapon as a result of any deformation of its soft plastic skin, whether being stepped on or just picked up and played with.
But while most mines can kill, these small mines are intended primarily to maim. In Afghanistan, where they were frequently used by the Soviet Union during its decade-spanning conflict in the nation, children frequently mistook these small mines for toys — resulting in countless killed and severely injured civilians.
The mines are distributed via Russia’s Uragan (“Hurricane”) 220mm multiple rocket launcher, with 312 of these mines carried and distributed by each rocket. A standard salvo of 16 rockets is capable of scattering nearly 5,000 PFM-1 mines over a half-mile area, leaving one of these small mines every 30 feet or so.
It’s important to note that these weapons weren’t designed to target children, but history has shown that children tend to be the unintended target of them due to the weapons’ toy-like appearance. Though, at this point, because it’s widely known that these weapons injure or kill a disproportionate number of children, they may be used intentionally by Russian forces to wear away at Ukrainian morale.
“The shape of the PFM-1 is dictated by function, but the fact remains that it is attractive to children,” explained Dr. Gino Strada, a surgeon with the International Committee of the Red Cross who has treated mine victims in Afghanistan, in a 2002 piece for PBS.
It’s worth noting that Russia has also accused Ukraine of using these mines in the ongoing conflict, though the U.K. Ministry of Defence has contested that claim.
The United States used similar mines in Vietnam known as the BLU-43 Dragontooth, but production of these weapons ended in 1970.
Related: On the sharp edge of empire: Russia, Ukraine, and the world to come
1. American technology powering Russian weapons
In August, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) released a 60-page report entitled, “Silicon Lifeline: Western Electronics at the Heart of Russia’s War Machine.” The report shines a light on the troubling amount of American and other countries’ technology found inside Russian weapon systems used in Ukraine. Components from Japan, South Korea, Britain, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands were also found aside from American components.
“RUSI discovered at least 450 different kinds of unique foreign-made components across these 27 systems, the majority of which were manufactured by US companies with a longstanding reputation for designing and building sophisticated microelectronics for the US military.”“Silicon Lifeline: Western Electronics at the Heart of Russia’s War Machine” by James Byrne, Gary Somerville, Joe Byrne, Dr Jack Watling , Nick Reynolds and Jane Baker. Published by RUSI on Aug. 18, 2022
Related: Russians scheming to steal US military technology arrested
At least 80 of the 450 Western components found in these weapon systems are subject to U.S. export controls, which indicates that Russia’s Defense apparatus has found a means to successfully circumnavigate these limitations in recent years.
Among the Russian weapons and other systems discovered in Ukraine that are reliant on Western technology are the aforementioned Iskander-M ballistic missile, the 9M727 ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM), the Kh-101 Strategic Air-Launched cruise missile (ALCM), the 9K331M Tor-M2 air-defence system and a variety of UAVs. Investigators also uncovered Western tech inside Russian communications and even electronic warfare systems.
It’s important to note that RUSI concluded that most of the American and other Western components found in Russian military equipment were sourced through the use of false end-user certificates, front companies, and transshipment, meaning many of the companies selling the components had no idea they were supporting Russian military endeavors with their exports.
Feature image created by Alex Hollings using assets State Border Guard Service of Ukraine and Oleksandr Ratushniak via Wikimedia Commons
Read more from Sandboxx News
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- Russia claims to fire warning shots at UK destroyer… But did they?
- How Russia’s warfare doctrine is failing in Ukraine
- The S-400 myth: Why Russia’s air defense prowess is exaggerated
dan lacourse says
Photos to energise those 25110 Franklin Terr
resisting the machinations South Lyon, MI 48178-1011
of that murderous paedophile-
in-public, V. V. (Ras-) Putin. email@example.com < COMPLETE OSTRACIZATION.
VIDEO : mind.yarn/video/20242642-kissed-by-vladimir- ***
This is something that I’d gotten up years ago for a few
educated friends that looks to show Putin off, as it were.
Do note Dr. Mace Knapp’s (NV prisons) identifying serial
killers’ and paedophiles’ personalities at the left of
photo (1), below
Other than the ‘title’ line atop the picture (Putin
puckering …), all excerpts and and quotes/statements in
“Putin-two” are my ‘creation’ or montage_! — from record
media, Council of Catholic Bishops, other scholars.
Putin : stunted, stunt-man. Russia, a failed state,
could not defend herself against a major invasion (as
per an article in ‘The Economist’, UK, in 2014).
| I don’t wish to be publicly identified with this as I’ve
| been spied on by a Filipino group (in Davao ?) working as
| a crude front end (phone calls, …) for Chinese
| intelligence in 2015 and again, recently (erased negative
| info on China & Russia on my pc’s). Shuttered my pc’s !!!
In “Vedit.com”, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, still_?, I always
use ‘detab’ within the Edit-convert options.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Attached just before : the below is ‘Putin_References.txt’;
Musts.txt (other, if ancient, epic phonies), and topical
references to biblical research;
just after : terse Fatima warnings of 1917, and a Sister
Faustina’s workings of hell (1930’s tour-of — not unique
to any religious or non-religious affiliation).
Recently : (i) Electromagnetic emission from humans
during focused intent — biolab at Rhine Res. Ctr.;
(ii) other research : electroencephalograms (EEG)
used upon persons in cardiac arrest, etc., who
experience moral valuations of their life’s events
— such experiences different from hallucinations.
Suggested old Warsaw Pact Emigree Associations in new
English Speaking Countries.txt. Nukes-Deterioration.
INDEX OF THE FOUR main ATTACHED photo FILES :
(1) ‘Putin_two.pdf’ which is a collation of the two files
‘Putin_p6.jpg’ and ‘Putin_tx.jpg’ — ‘_p6’ [These being
two 5″ by 7″ the top one of Putin lifting Nikita Konkin’s
polo shirt and undershirt above one of Putin’s kissing the
5-year old on his tummy, with comments in the margins; and
‘_tx’ a page of comments on paedophilia and phony degrees
on the reverse side (joined to keep them un-separated)].;
(2) ‘Putin-meets-Nikita.jpg’ is also some attendee’s clear
full size photo of the Kremlin audiance scene — helps
solidify scenes’ veracity; also, see Russian media, then.
(3) ‘Nikita_in-2012.pdf’, another over-and-under
double-photo, repeating (2); do NOT publicise the half of
Nikita astride his caring father at age 11 in a Moskow
crowd in 2012. You might scan the web for that and
other pictures. Beware of ‘.pdf files’ overwriting
those downloaded in ‘Firefox .pdf’, though different.
Do UNcheck any litle box default ‘fit picture to frame or
picture length-&-width’, else omit-some_? margin remarks.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Slogan : Don’t let Ukraine reverT to that perverT,
V. V. (Ras-) Putin !!
Recycling old dictators, mafia dons, like Lenin [his
viciousness so rattled Bertrand Russell (co-author of
Principia Mathematica) that he couldn’t function for
two days after meeting him in the London Library] :
Just as Lenin, Stalin, Mao were displayed, half-sized,
in clear plastic cases, likewise stretch-out such
monsters in full-sise, clear, form-fitting plastic
cases, deposit them on the edge of a bowling alley
super frozen (properly embalmed and connected to
refridgerating units). Charge big bucks.
Who ever would succeed in bowling one of them over
will have toppled a dictator. As game-pieces, anyway.
They’d need be equipped with AI and sensors to detect
bowling-ball dynamics to enable them to dodge these
threats just as they’d dodged assassination attempts
on themselves in their earthly lives.
Dan LaCourse, age 84.
Kenny Monoxide says
So far, this has been child’s play. Watch what happen over the next 30-60 days, beginning in a week to 10 days.
Sad thing is Americans are going to start being killed. But we shouldn’t be there in the first place. Biden/obama is going keep Fing around and they’re going to find out. Especially once China gets involved. And they will. You’ll see.
Charles Hoyenski says
The technology you’all have shown that the Russians “stole” is very old, some of the TI chips you show (like the digital signal processor) were from the 90’es, THESE CHIPS ARE EASY TO DUPLICATE !!
The only tech the Russkies cannot match is chip designs under 5nm.
The chips you show are ancient by tech standards, most likely made with six inch, MAYBE 200mm wafers at best.
Also, you mistakenly mention Spansion as being in California, they are in fact here in my home town of Austin Texas USA, and again, this is an archaic plant (they were still using 200mm wafer tech, with no plan’s to upgrade to 300mm, AMD rightly spun off this piece of crap around fifteen years ago).
ANY CHIP Russia want’s they can get from China, who in fact have a massive semiconductor mfg. capability, just not at the really small chip sizes (under 5nm). The tech for a cruise missle does NOT have to be as advanced as that of cell phones which are very small, compact and limited in terms of circuit board space to accomodate IC’es.
Just my view on this,
Former American Military defense contractor, jet & helicopter aircraft, machine tools, mainframes, semiconductors and heavy guns are what I worked on.
P.S. I also worked here in Austin Texas on a program for sending refurbished 200mm tools to china to make chips, it was for a firm called Applied materials, those tools could have easily made their way into Russian hands via china, but no export restrictions were put in place on them at the time we were doing the work !
Mike H says
This wasn’t a T 80UM2 Black Eagle but a simple T80UM2 with Drozd APS, black eagle has ammo rack at the rear and was never seen in Ukraine, as far as i know the black eagle is an only prototype and it never left the border as still being used for experimental purposes.
Mike H says
by the rear i mean at the rear of the turret. T 80UM2 and T 80UM2 Black eagle are two different prototypes. Still we don’t know much about the faith of how the one in ukraine got destroyed but still a loss for russia.
Doug Mayfield says
Thank you for an interesting article. I admit that I know nothing about chip design but if the Russians are stealing our tech, why not design the chips with a ‘back door”? That is, we build in a way to access the chip once it’s in place and use that to screw up the weapon in question? Probably too complex but hey, I have read that we are concerned about Chinese tech. Maybe we should make our chips into a ‘two edged sword’ for those who would illegally employ them.
Johnathan Galt says
Who says they didn’t?
Jeff Lebowski says
maybe Russia is using this war to test their army, navy, air forces, which really has not been tested in some time?
folks might want to start playing chess (which the Russians are good at) instead of checkers
”We’re not corrupt and incompetent, we’re playing chess.”
“We didn’t have our Black Sea Fleet flagship sunk, we were just testing the salt water smothering system while we were playing chess.”
“We didn’t lose so many modern tanks we had to start using T-62s, we’re playing chess. “
We didn’t send untrained conscripts to the front, we’re playing chess.
“We didn’t get trapped on the wrong side of the Dnieper river, we’re playing chess.”
Yeah, not thinking so but feel free to believe that if you are having a hard time with reality.
Kenny Monoxide says
You’re so cute…. but not very bright.