Destination Of Russian T-90 Tank Left At Truck Stop Comes Into Focus
The Russian T-90A tank taken off the battlefield in Ukraine appears to be headed to the Aberdeen Test Center.
Thanks to a shipping label on the barrel of the main gun of a Russian T-90A tank that wound up at a Louisiana truck stop, we now have an idea where it came from and where it may have been headed before the truck hauling it broke down Tuesday night, leaving it sitting at Peto's Travel Center and Casino.
You can read our original story on the mysterious tank in question here.
The shipping label, photographs of which were shared with us by Louisiana resident John Phelps, shows it was sent from an organization called the “multinational assessment field team” with the port of embarkation listed as Gdynia, Poland. Its port of destination was Beaumont, Texas, about 90 miles west of where the tank wound up. The "ultimate consignee" on the label is Building 358, 6850 Lanyard Rd., Aberdeen Proving Ground. That's the home of the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center (ATC).
According to its website, ATC’s mission is to:
- Provide test, and test support, services for authorized customers within and outside of DoD, including Government and non-Government organizations, domestic, and foreign.
- Perform comprehensive test and training, both real and simulated.
- Exploit emerging technologies.
- Develop leading-edge instrumentation and test methodologies.
Today, "ATC is the Defense Department’s lead agency for land-combat, direct-fire, and live-fire vulnerability testing," according to ATC. "ATC is a multi-purpose test center with diverse capabilities. It has become a world-class testing, training, modeling, simulation, and experimentation facility that gives American Warfighters superior materiel and technology."
As an example of what ATC does, in 2019, we wrote about how the Army was going to blow up an old 747 there to test the vulnerabilities of commercial aircraft to explosives.
Given all that, it makes sense the T-90A, which open-source intelligence investigators say was captured by Ukraine from Russia last September and appears to be the one seen in this video below, would wind up at ATC.
But how much can be learned from the tank is unclear.
The T-90A, which had damaged front and rear fenders, is fairly modern by Russian standards, having been produced in 2004, according to the Warspotting.net OSINT group. However, as we reported yesterday, the pictures shared with us by Reddit user Mutantlight and Cody Sellers, a manager at Peto’s Travel Center and Casino in Roanoke, Louisiana, show that the tank is clearly not fully kitted out. But it did have some explosive reactive armor (ERA) containers on the turret. It also had the "dazzlers" at least still fitted from the Shtora-1 self-protection system. Its various machine guns have been removed.
It also notably lacks some Western fire control components, which some T-90As have been equipped with in the past.
We had several questions for ATC as well as Army headquarters in the Pentagon. Among them what the tank will be used for, how it got into the U.S., where it was headed, details about the tank’s battle history, whether there were security concerns about it being left for days at a truck stop and whether the ERA containers were inert or contained explosives.
Friday afternoon, an ATC spokesperson deferred our questions to Army headquarters and Army officials we reached out to yesterday and today have not yet provided any information.
Also unclear is which company was delivering the tank when its truck broke down, leading to the layover at Peto's. Officials at AAA Logistics of Dayton, Ohio, the name of the company on the cab of the truck that picked it up last night at about 8:00 P.M. local time, did not return messages seeking comment. Sellers, the truck stop manager, told us one of the drivers told him the truck was headed for Maryland. This is the state where the Aberdeen Test Center is located in.
Phelps said when he asked the truck driver if it was headed to Aberdeen based on the label, the driver said, "yeah, how did you know that?" and told him it was headed to Maryland.
So while we have some answers about where the tank appears to be headed, many more questions remain unanswered. Whether this vehicle will be used for destructive testing — such as testing weaponry against it — or to familiarize troops with foreign equipment, or some other sort of foreign materiel exploitation (FME) use, we just can't say at this time.
We will update this story if and when those answers are provided.
Contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org