Saturday, February 4, 2023

A look at Leopard 2 tanks that could soon be sent to Ukraine

GENEVA — Following intense strain from its allies, Germany seems to be inching towards approving deliveries of high-tech Leopard 2 foremost battle tanks that Ukraine and its greatest Western backers hope will enhance Kyiv’s struggle in opposition to Russian invaders.

Over the weekend German Overseas Minister Annalena Baerbock stated Berlin wouldn’t get in the best way if Poland – arguably Ukraine’s most vocal supporter amongst European Union neighbors – needs to ship Leopard 2 tanks from its arsenal throughout the border into Ukraine. And Germany is no longer ruling out supplying such tanks to Ukraine itself, cautioning nevertheless that the implications of such a step want to be fastidiously weighed.

Right here’s a look at what these tanks would possibly imply for Ukraine’s protection in opposition to Russian forces – and hopes for driving them out.


Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, the producer of the Leopard 2, touts it as “the world’s main battle tank” that for over almost a half-century has mixed points of firepower, safety, pace and maneuverability, making it adaptable to many forms of fight conditions.

The 55-ton tank has a crew of 4 and a variety of about 500 kilometers (310 miles), and high speeds of about 68 kilometers per hour (about 42 mph). Now with 4 foremost variants, its earliest model first got here into service in 1979. Its foremost weapon is a 120mm easy bore gun and it has a fully-digital fire-control system.

PHOTOS: A look at Leopard 2 tanks that could soon be sent to Ukraine


One huge enchantment of the German-made tanks are their sheer quantity: Greater than 2,000 have been deployed in over a dozen European nations and Canada. Total, KMW says over 3,500 items have been equipped to 19 nations.

Rheinmetall AG, a German protection contractor that makes the 120mm smoothbore gun on the Leopard 2, says the tank has been deployed by “extra nations that every other.”

In accordance to a current evaluation by the Worldwide Institute for Strategic Research, a London-based world assume tank, some 350 Leopard 2s – in numerous variations – have been sent to Greece, and Poland has about 250 of various varieties. Finland has 200 in operation or in storage.

For Ukraine’s struggle in opposition to Russia, “It’s believed that for the Leopard 2 tanks to have any vital impact on the preventing, round 100 tanks would be required,” the IISS analysts wrote.

Ukraine’s protection minister needs 300 tanks, and a few European Union leaders help him on that.

“We want a fleet of 300 tanks,” Luxembourg’s Overseas Minister Jean Asselborn stated Monday in Brussels, alluding to the huge deployment of Leopards throughout Europe, and the necessity for “synchronous” weaponry – that can function easily collectively.

Getting Leopards into Ukrainian palms isn’t as straightforward as rolling them throughout the border from associates farther West in Europe. IISS estimates that three to six weeks of coaching would be wanted for working crews and help workers to attain primary proficiency.


Yohann Michel, a analysis analyst for protection and army affairs at IISS, stated such tanks could permit Ukraine to go onto the offensive within the 11-month-old battle that has been stalemated for months following two key Ukrainian counteroffensives that recaptured areas occupied by Russian forces for months within the northeast and south.

“In the sort of battle, it’s simply not potential to perform large-scale offensives with out the complete number of armored fight gear and armored automobiles, and tanks are part of that,” he stated by cellphone. As well as to Essential Battle Tanks, or MBTs, just like the Leopard II, others embrace infantry preventing automobiles and armored personnel carriers.

Western deliveries of Leopard 2s could assist equip Ukraine with wanted high-caliber munitions to change its personal Soviet-era stockpiles that have been dwindling – opening a brand new avenue for provides of Western firepower to get to Ukraine.

“In my opinion, that’s the first impression,” Michel stated by cellphone. “The second impression, after all, is to improve the variety of tanks accessible within the Ukrainian arsenal,” which he estimated at “a number of hundred” proper now.


Germany has closing say about whether or not Leopard 2s can be delivered – even from different nations’ arsenals – and has been reticent about anybody transport them to Ukraine.

Extra-hawkish Western allies have been stepping up the strain on Germany, however america has additionally refused to ship its highly effective M1 Abrams tanks.

The US introduced an upcoming new package deal of army help that is anticipated to embrace almost 100 Stryker fight automobiles and at least 50 Bradley armored automobiles – however not the Abrams, which U.S. officers say has complicated upkeep wants and should not be the most effective match.

Allies and army analysts say the Leopard 2 is diesel-powered – not pushed by jet gas that powers the M1 Abrams – and is less complicated to function than the large U.S. tanks, and thus has shorter coaching occasions.

Britain this month introduced it’s going to ship Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, and the Czech Republic and Poland have supplied Soviet-era T-72 tanks to Ukrainian forces. French President Emmanuel Macron stated Sunday that he had requested his protection minister to “work on” the concept of sending a few of France’s Leclerc battle tanks to Ukraine.

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