Update on Russian equipment losses: Oryx numbers
TLDR: analysis of Oryx figures suggest Ukrainian figures are accurate, at least since the start of March. This is bad news for Russia. I hazard a prediction that if this rate of equipment loss up for another 60 days the Russians will probably need to get out, and if this keeps up for 90 days the Russians will very probably have to get out.
This article is a continuation of this article.
Using the Wayback machine I got numbers for total Russian equipment destroyed each day in Ukraine from the Oryx website.
The methodology of the Oryx website is to count each loss only when evidenced by photographs or videos on the internet. As such, it is almost certainly an undercount though apparently it does contain a few double and triple counts, due to different photographs of the same equipment from different angles, though the website curators do their best.
Unfortunately the methodology means a piece of destroyed or captured equipment could be documented on the website any day after it was destroyed, not necessarily the day of its destruction or capture. This will be important later.
I started with tanks. In our previous post we noted that the figures from the Ukrainian army indicate that the Russians have been losing 15 tanks per day in Ukraine in March. Meanwhile the Oryx numbers suggest they’ve been losing 12.5 per day in March.
It’s interesting that the Oryx and the Ukrainian numbers are so close on tanks [in March], because I would expect that destroyed tanks would be the most likely type of equipment to make it online. This is consistent with the view that Ukraine’s equipment destruction numbers are accurate. The small disparity (2.5 tanks per day) could easily be due to the odd bit of equipment destruction not being but online, or being online but missed by the Oryx curators.
Tentatively, this makes me think we can place some weight on the Ukrainian ministry of defence’s numbers at least after the start of March.
These numbers are bad news for Russia if they keep up. They can’t continue to sustain this level of equipment loss for months.
Now let’s move on to general equipment. “Equipment” in this context roughly corresponds to vehicles of various sorts (tanks, APCS, self-propelled artillery, helicopters etc.), but there are a few other things like towed artillery. Man portable systems, like ATGM’s and MANPADS are not included in the grand total, although they are recorded by Oryx, if you want to look them up.
The picture here tends to suggest that Ukraine retains its capacity to destroy and capture Russian equipment, without much degradation.
Looking at March the daily number fell between about the 6th and the 9th. However I would not read too much into this as a sign of reduced Ukrainian military capacity because:
Oryx wasn’t well known in the first days of the war, and thus it would have been receiving a smaller portion of casualty reports. As Oryx was first becoming a popular website in early March, there would have been a flood of documentation for equipment losses for earlier days.
Compounding the figures trickling in from earlier in the war, the Russian offensive in the first few days would have been more aggressive, with a larger exchange of casualties on both sides as the Russians tried to sweep through Ukraine quickly.
Though I am not an expert, I would say that, if anything the Ukrainian ability to inflict casualties has been pretty consistent on these numbers. For me this is at least moderate evidence that Russia is in a lot of trouble.
I am going to hazard a prediction. If this level of equipment destruction keeps up, at least approximately (10 tanks per day according to Oryx, and 40 or more pieces of equipment a day). Russia will not be able to last another 60 days (80% confidence) or 90 days (90% confidence).
Of course this is a conditional prediction. If Russia can wrap up the war relatively quickly, this doesn’t apply.
Edit: A commenter asked why these sorts of losses would matter, given it is often reputed that Russians have 12400 tanks. Answer:
1. A more realistic estimate for the number of tanks that are actually battle-worthy is something closer to about 3000.
2. Based on the distribution of Brigade tactical groups one would be shocked if they had more than 1500 tanks in Ukraine.
Second edit: I am unhappy with how I phrased my prediction. It sounds like a conditional prediction applying to a condition that is very unlikely to arise, which doesn’t really capture what I meant. Here’s a better framework. I am 50% sure Russia will not tolerate the loss of another 300 tanks. I am 80% sure Russia will not tolerate the loss of another 600 tanks. I am 90% sure Russia will not tolerate the loss of another 900 tanks.