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The Evolution and Persistence of Armoured Trains in the Last 40 Years

The Evolution and Persistence of Armoured Trains in the Last 40 Years
photo: Martin Hlauka (Pescan) / Wikimedia Commons/The Evolution and Persistence of Armoured Trains in the Last 40 Years
07 / 04 / 2023

In the era of advanced military technology, the relevance of armoured trains might seem questionable. However, these heavily fortified and weaponized vehicles have continued to play a role in conflicts during the last four decades. This article will explore the usage and development of armoured trains in various conflicts since the 1980s.

The Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989)

During the Soviet-Afghan War, the Soviet Union deployed armoured trains to provide logistical support and security to their forces. These trains were primarily used to transport troops, equipment, and supplies through the challenging terrain of Afghanistan. The armoured trains offered protection against ambushes and attacks by the Afghan mujahideen, ensuring the safe passage of vital resources.

Angolan Civil War (1975-2002)

In the Angolan Civil War, armoured trains played a crucial role in the conflict between the Angolan government and various rebel factions. The government used these trains to secure vital transportation routes and transport military supplies. The trains were often equipped with artillery, machine guns, and anti-aircraft weapons, providing a formidable defence against enemy attacks.

The Balkans (1991-1999)

During the Yugoslav Wars in the Balkans, particularly in the Croatian War of Independence and the Bosnian War, armoured trains were used by various factions to transport troops and supplies. The trains were heavily armed and served as mobile fortresses, providing protection and firepower in a region where transportation infrastructure was often targeted or destroyed.

Chechen Wars (1994-1996, 1999-2000)

In the Chechen Wars, the Russian military used armoured trains to secure transportation routes and support ground operations. The trains were equipped with heavy weapons, such as artillery and anti-aircraft guns, allowing them to provide fire support to Russian forces. These trains also played a role in transporting equipment and personnel, ensuring the safe passage of vital resources through the conflict-ridden region.

Recent Wars and Developments

While armoured trains have not played a significant role in recent wars, their legacy persists as nations continue to explore their potential in unconventional warfare. For example, North Korea has reportedly maintained a fleet of armoured trains for use in military operations and as a means to transport high-ranking officials. Similarly, Russia has showcased its modernized armoured trains, such as the "Baikal" and "Ural", in military parades and exercises, highlighting their capabilities for troop transportation and fire support.

Overall, armoured trains have proven their worth in providing secure transportation, logistical support, and fire support in various wars and conflicts. While their usage has diminished in recent years, armoured trains remain an interesting facet of modern military history and a testament to their adaptability and persistence in the ever-evolving landscape of warfare.