The US Army just put out an invitation for bids on building a modification for Humvees to make them look like Russian T-72 tanks.
The invitation for bids states that the mods will help the Army simulate realistic battle scenarios in training. The solicitation also mentions MILES/TESS quite a few times, suggesting the fake tanks will be likely used for Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System/Tactical Engagement Simulation System — the military’s version of laser tag.
The T-72, originally built by the Soviet Union, is one of the world’s more common tanks with 20,000 or so units built since the 1970s, according to Russian state-run media.
T-72s have been used by Russia, Ukraine, Syria, and even ISIS, so it’s possible that US forces could meet them on the battlefield at some point. Since their inception in the 1970s, the T-72s have suffered grievous losses in battle to US-made Abrams tanks.
In 1991, for example, current National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster led a group of Abrams tanks in Iraq that destroyed 25 Iraqi tanks (many T-72s among them), 16 personnel carriers, and 30 trucks without a single US loss.
However, since that battle, T-72s have greatly improved. They’re often seen with explosive reactive tiles of armor quilting their exterior. These bricks of explosive charges counter incoming rounds, making them more resistant to enemy tank fire.
An updated version of the T-72, known as the T-90, bears a resemblance to the original and may be approaching parity with the US’s Abrams, according to Army Lt. Gen. John M. Murray’s recent testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.