Hunting Russian Tanks: Special Ops UTV Buggies Prowl Ukraine

They are called “stug buggies.” They’re also either MRZR Alpha or Polaris Ranger, but whatever you want to call them, they’re lethal. Officially tactical all-terrain vehicles, the Polaris UTVs are being spotted in and around Ukraine with a single mission. That mission involves blowing up Russian tanks with the Stugna-P anti-tank guided missile launcher mounted high for everyone to see. That’s where the name stug buggy comes from. 

How many Russian tanks have Ukrainian UTVs destroyed?

Stug Buggy
Ukrainian Stug Buggy | Ukraine Weapons Tracker

And together, they’re doing a good job. Based on reputable sites that chart these types of things, the Ukrainians have destroyed 312 Russian tanks. There have been another 17 damaged, 49 abandoned, and 222 captured. 

This wouldn’t be too much of a problem for the Russians except that its tank supplier Uralvagonzavod doesn’t have parts to build anymore. That includes parts needed to fix damaged tanks. So each tank loss becomes another headache for Vladimir Putin and his cockeyed invasion of Ukraine. 

U.S.-made Javelins and British NLAWS, along with their German Panzerfaust 3 counterparts, are the anti-tank weapons of choice. The Ukrainians produce their own Stugna-P ATGM launchers. The Javelin has special recognition as it has become known as “St. Javelin.” It has even received “sainthood” status because of Ukrainian Special Ops images showing up of Mary Magdalene with a Javelin in tow. Being mostly Christian, Ukrainians combine their faith with ATGMs to thwart their unholy war. 

What is a Polaris MRZR UTV anyway?

MRZR UTVs
MRZR UTVs in Iraq | Getty

They’re a military version of the Polaris RZR side by side UTV, like the one you can buy at your local Polaris dealer. But while it offers the same advantages for recreational use as it does for warzones, the MRZR has other advantages unrelated to its end-use.

First, the MRZR is air-transportable in large numbers due to its weight and size. Being light and small, it is also deployable. That means it can easily be dropped into a situation, then just as easily moved to another location. And those only enhance its primary function, to be a highly mobile off-road vehicle. 

What are the Polaris MRZR specs?

Tracked Polaris MRZR
Tracked Polaris MRZR for Arctic exploration | Polaris

The Polaris MRZR Alpha can travel 225 miles on a tank of gas. It can carry a 1,400 lb payload, too. And it comes as either a 2WD or 4WD UTV. Sofrep did a quick calculation and determined that for the $12,000 MRZR and a $20,000 Stugna-P launcher, you’ve got a bonafide tank destroyer for only $32,000. That’s another advantage of using these MRZRs. 

And what about the cost of the Russian tanks? They’re estimated to cost $2 million each when Uralvagonzavod has the parts to make them. Which it currently can’t produce. 

How do Ukrainian Special Forces use the Polaris UTV?

Stugna-P ATGM
Stugna-P ATGM in Kyiv | Wikimedia Commons

The Ukrainian Special Forces drive their UTVs into heavily wooded areas to set up. Then, they could pick off a few tanks in a convoy before speeding away. These hit-and-run situations worked for a while until Russian troops entered populated areas. Then, the cover of dense brush was gone, making it much easier for them to be spotted. 

But then the UTV was used for other capabilities. It can scout areas because it is quiet to operate. Also, it can evacuate soldiers and civilians, and be a gofer for supplies. The days of aerial bombs and Navy fleets aren’t over, but with more and more conflicts being close-quarter guerilla fighting, these Polaris UTVs have become the perfect vehicles.

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