Do Cope Cages on Tanks in Ukraine Actually Work?

Wes O'Donnell
6 min readJun 12, 2024

Let’s look at the evidence

A Ukrainian T-72 tank with a cope cage in December 2023. Courtesy of Rinat Ahkmetov’s Steel Front

When the M1 Abrams tank was first built to fight the Soviets, its designers had no idea that the vehicle would be thrown into a swarming hellscape filled with thousands of small, painfully precise, explosive drones.

Instead, the Abrams was made to “close with and destroy” Soviet armor with cutting-edge optics and computer-assisted fire control.

But this presents an interesting question: If tank armor was made to survive engagements against other tanks, with their large guns and penetrating ammo, why do they seem so susceptible to small, explosive drones?

Let’s discuss…

Originally, tanks were built to break the stalemate of trench warfare during World War I. But as the 20th Century progressed, the introduction of anti-tank guided missiles led some military leaders to declare the effective end of tank warfare.

But apparently, rumors of the tanks’ death were greatly exaggerated.

Instead, the tank joined the endless cat-and-mouse game between projectiles and armor that has been going on since ancient Mycenaean plate armor was conceived to protect against arrows and spears.

And as the armor evolved, so did the doctrine of tank warfare.



Wes O'Donnell

US Army & US Air Force Veteran | Global Security guy at War is Boring, GEN, OneZero | Intel Forecaster | Law Student | TEDx Speaker | +Democracy | +Human Rights