After intense pressure exerted by his allies, Germany seems to be about to approve the delivery of battle tanks Leopard 2 high tech you Ukraine and their main Western allies hope they will push forward the fight for kyiv against the Russian invaders.
Over the weekend, the German Foreign Minister, annalena baerbockI declare that berlin Wouldn’t get in the way if Poland -possibly the biggest supporter of Ukraine among the neighbors of the European Union– I would like to send tanks Leopard 2 from his arsenal to Ukraine across the border. Germany nor does he rule out supplying this type of car to Ukrainealthough he warns that the implications of this measure must be carefully weighed.
Here’s a look at what those tanks could mean for the defense of Ukraine against Russian forces – and hopes of driving them out.
What is Leopard 2
the german company Krauss-Maffei Wegmannmanufacturer of Leopard 2introduces it as “the world’s leading main battle tank”, which for almost half a century has combined aspects of firepower, protection, speed and maneuverability, making it adaptable to many types of combat situations.
This tank 55 tons has a crew of four peoplean autonomy of about 500 kilometers and a top speed of 68 kilometers per hour. It currently has four main variants, the first of which entered service in 1979. Its main weapon is a 120mm gun and has a fully digital fire control system.
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One of the great attractions of German-built main battle tanks is their sheer numbers: more than 2,000 have been deployed in more than a dozen European countries and in Canada. Total, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann has supplied more than 3,500 units to 19 countries.
Rheinmetal AGa German defense contractor that manufactures the cannon of the Leopard 2claims the tank has been deployed by “more nations than any other.”
According to a recent analysis by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a think tank headquartered in Londonabout 350 have been sent Leopard 2 -in different versions- to GreeceY Poland it has about 250 of various types. Finland it has 200 in operation or in storage.
for the war of Ukraine against Russia“it is believed that for the Leopard 2 tanks to have any significant effect in the fighting, about 100 tanks would be needed”, wrote analysts at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
The Ukrainian Defense Minister wants 300 tanks, and some leaders of the European Union They support you in it.
“We need a fleet of 300 tanks”, declared in Brussels on Monday the Luxembourg Foreign Minister, Jean Asselbornalluding to the wide deployment of leopards for all Europe and the need for “synchronous” weapons, which can operate together without problems.
get them leopard into Ukrainian hands is not as easy as getting them across the border from friends further west of Europe. The International Institute for Strategic Studies estimates that three to six weeks of training would be needed for operational crews and support personnel to achieve basic proficiency.
Ralf Rathsdirector of the Panzer Museum in Munster, Germany, said that experienced Ukrainian tank crews could learn to use the Leopard 2 fairly quickly, and that training could be shortened to focus on essential knowledge.
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“Do you really have to exploit 100% of the potential or is it enough to use 80% in half the time? Ukrainians will certainly vote for option B, ”he stated.
What difference could they make
johann michela defense research and military affairs analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said those tanks could allow Ukraine go on the offensive in the 11-month conflict that has been stalemate for months after two key Ukrainian counter-offensives that recaptured areas held by Russian forces for months in the north-east and south.
“In this type of conflict, it is simply not possible to carry out large-scale offensives without the full range of armored fighting equipment and armored vehicles, and tanks are a part of that,” he said. In addition to main battle tanks, or MBTs, like the Leopard 2, others include infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers.
Western deliveries of Leopard 2 could help equip Ukraine with high-calibre ammunition needed to replace its own dwindling Soviet-era stockpiles, opening a new avenue for supplies of Western firepower to reach Ukrainesaid.
raths pointed out that the Leopard 2 and similar Western tanks are more agile than the Model Ts used by Russia, which cannot reverse at high speed, for example.
“Imagine a boxer who cannot move freely in the ring, but only in one direction.“, said. “The other fighter, who can move in all directions, has a huge advantage and that’s the case with the Leopards.”
Still, even Western MBTs are vulnerable to air or anti-tank infantry attacks when in forests and urban areas, highlighting the importance of anti-air and reconnaissance support, he said. raths.
With a similar number of tanks on both sides, the Leopard 2 and similar tanks could give advantage to Ukraineespecially considering the poor tactical performance of Russian troops during the war, he said.
“The Ukrainians shine for a creative, dynamic and often very clean warRaths said. “So it could very well be that if the Ukrainian operational offensive were to start, the Russians would have real trouble countering it.”
Niklas Masuhrresearcher of Security Studies Center Swiss Federal Polytechnic University ETZbased in Zurichwarned that bringing Leopards onto the battlefield alone would not be “a game changer or war-winning technology, anything like that.”
“You can’t deploy a bunch of main battle tanks and assume they’re going to win,” he said. “They are very valuable, but you have to use them in the right way and integrate them with all the other military tools that you have,” such as infantry, artillery, air defense, combat engineers and helicopters.
Germany has the final say on whether they can be delivered Leopard 2 – even from the arsenals of other countries – and has been reluctant to have anyone send them to Ukraine.
The more hawkish Western allies have increased the pressure on Germanybut USA it has also refused to send its powerful tanks M1 Abrams.
USA announced a new military aid package that is expected to include nearly 100 combat vehicles stryker and at least 50 armored vehicles Bradleybut not the Abramswhich, according to US officials, has complex maintenance needs and may not be the best fit.
Allies and military analysts say the Leopard 2 is powered by diesel – not the jet fuel that powers the M1 Abrams– and it’s easier to handle than the big US tanks, so it takes less training time.
Britain announced this month that it will send tanks challenger 2 a Ukraineand the Rczech republic Y Poland have provided tanks T-72 from the Soviet era to the Ukrainian forces. The French President, Emmanuel Macronsaid on Sunday that he had asked his defense minister to “work on” the idea of sending some of the tanks leclerc of France a Ukraine.
Even if the modern mbt Western countries are superior to their Russian counterparts, donor countries supplying them should prepare for losses, he said. raths.
The Leopard 2 “It is an offensive weapon that will be launched in high-intensity battles,” he said. “Vehicles will be destroyed and people will die in these tanks.”
(C) The Associated Press.-