Coming Soon to a War Near You

Why should you want to know more about the AT-4 anti-armor weapons systems we are sending to Ukraine? Well, for one thing, we are sending over 6,000 of them. So that’s a lot of destructive power headed their way. And it’s just the beginning.

A Ukrainian serviceman walks past destroyed Russian tanks not far from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on April 3, 2022.  Photo Credit: Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images

Cleaning Out Our Closet

As a matter of fact, the West has been giving Ukraine so many of this type of weapon some feel the donor nations might end up shorthanded as a result.

James Black, a research leader at RAND Europe, said in a recent interview that the European anti-tank industrial base was “not insignificant,” but “even if production lines can be increased with effort and money, there is an issue with people and skills because it takes time to grow that.”

He remarked that “anti-tank technology has not seen a huge amount of investment since the end of the Cold War” because it seemed unnecessary and therefore did not attract engineers. So “today there’s not a robust pipeline of people in the sector.” And that’s an excellent point; the Cold War would likely have been an armor-intensive conflict if it had gone hot. Therefore, many anti-armor pieces were produced in anticipation and held in storage for a number of years.

Russia’s war in Ukraine is depleting these stores rather quickly. It’s something to consider because it’s not like we can just start an assembly line again and start banging these things out, especially more sophisticated weapons systems like the Javelin.

The AT-4, on the other hand, is a relatively simple but effective anti-tank/light armored vehicle weapon. It’s likely the first anti-tank weapon that a new US Army recruit will learn to use during their initial training. These simple weapons will prove to be particularly helpful to Ukrainian reserve territorial defense units. Volunteers with no prior experience can act as force multipliers when armed with these weapons. Currently, they may be carrying no more firepower than an AK-47.

Combat footage of an AT-4 being used on a fixed target. Video courtesy of YouTube and Funker 530.