Why Is Ukraine Still Using the Obsolete Cold War Era T-64 Tank on the Front Lines

Ukraine has no modern tanks in service and relies on old Soviet-built tanks such as the T-64 - one of the oldest tanks deployed in the war.
T-64 Tank Training

Ukraine is using Cold War era tanks to counter Russian forces. The country has deployed T-64 tanks in the east in an effort to push back against the advances of Russian forces.

These tanks entered service in 1966 in the Soviet Union to replace the T-62 (also seen in the war in Ukraine). They are a far cry from modern equipment. However, Ukraine’s military officials believe that these old tanks can still be effective in this conflict.

Ukrainian military tech is not that advanced

JMTG-U T-64 Tank
JMTG-U T-64 Tank by Alexander Rector. Public Domain.

When most people think of tanks, they picture massive, cutting-edge vehicles equipped with the latest in military technology. However, Ukraine has been forced to rely on a very different type of tank: the T-64. It is a Cold War relic that was once used by the Soviet Union as its main tank.


The Soviet T-64 tank was a cutting-edge weapon when it was first introduced in the 1960s. It featured a number of innovative design elements, including an autoloader that reduced the crew size from four to three and a 125mm smoothbore gun that could fire both anti-tank missiles and conventional ammunition.

Today, it is vastly outclassed by more modern tanks, but it remains in service due to its low maintenance cost and easy availability due to the large numbers produced.

It was modernized though

T-64B1 - Patriot Museum
T-64B1 – Patriot Museum by Alan Wilson. Licensed under CC by 2.0

Over the years, the T-64 has undergone several rounds of modernization. The latest version of the T-64, the T-64BV, was introduced in the early 2000s and featured a number of improvements over earlier versions of the tank. These include a more powerful engine, increased armor protection, and updated electronics.


But, even with its upgrades, the T-64 was plagued by reliability problems… and the more reliable T-72 eventually replaced it T-72.

The T-64 tanks are being used in conjunction with other Soviet-era equipment, including surface-to-air missiles and anti-tank weapons.

This old hardware is used in an effort to stop the advances of Russian forces. But, it is overpowered by more advanced tanks such as the T-72 or T-80.


In fact, the T-64 is one of the most destroyed tanks during the war with about 200 losses.

The reality is that despite all the weapons that the US has supplied Ukraine with, the war is usually fought with weapons produced decades ago and inherited by Ukraine from the Soviet Union.

From T-62, T-64, and T-72 tanks to AK-47 assault rifles, Ukraine is deploying outdated weapons… And this trend is unlikely to change in the short term.


Weapons such as the Javelin, Stinger, HIMARS, or Bayraktar played a major role in the war. However, they are far from being the most abundant weapons in Ukraine.

Without NATO support, Ukraine wouldn’t be able to cope with the Russian invasion

Javelin in the Fight
Javelin in the Fight by John Yountz. Public Domain.

Despite the advances of Ukrainian troops, Russian forces have been pushing into Ukrainian territory, and the situation shows no signs of stopping.

Now, a major piece of Ukrainian territory is changing hands and now belongs to Russia.


So, without the support of the US and the other NATO countries, it would be impossible for Ukraine to cope with the Russian Invasion. For example, Ukraine has destroyed about 121 Russian T-64s, mainly with the Javelin provided by the US.

Most of the Ukrainian equipment is outdated and the T-64 is a clear example of this

Ukraine and Russia have pretty similar weapons inherited from the Soviet Union. But, Ukraine has had the advantage of NATO support to carry on the war. Otherwise, it would have been impossible to continue fighting with its unsophisticated armament.

Featured image credit: T–64 Tank Training by Alexander Rector. Public Domain.