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AP EXPLAIN: A look at German Leopard 2 tanks | The USA Print

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FILE - A Leopard 2 tank moves forward during a press demonstration event Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011, in Münster, Germany.  (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)

FILE – A Leopard 2 tank moves forward during a press demonstration event Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011, in Münster, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)

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After facing intense pressure from its allies, Germany appears to be slowly leaning toward approving the delivery of high-tech Leopard 2 tanks that Ukraine and its main Western backers hope will bolster kyiv’s fight against the Russian invaders.

At the weekend, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Berlin would not stand in the way if Poland — arguably the most outspoken country among its European Union neighbors — wants to send the Ukrainian government tanks. Leopard 2 from his arsenal. And Germany is not ruling out supplying those tanks to Ukraine itself, though she has warned that the implications of such a move have to be carefully weighed.

Here’s a look at what those tanks could mean for Ukraine’s defense against Russian forces, and hopes of driving them out.

WHAT ARE THE LEOPARD 2 LIKE?

Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, the German manufacturer of the Leopard 2, claims in its advertising that it is “the best main battle tank in the world”, which for almost half a century has combined aspects of firepower, protection, speed and maneuverability, which allows it to adapt to many types of combat situations.

The 55-tonne tank has a crew of four, a range of about 500 kilometers (310 miles) and a top speed of about 68 kilometers per hour (about 42 miles per hour). Now on sale in four main variants, its initial version was first offered in 1979. Its main weapon is a 120mm smoothbore cannon, and it has a fully digitized fire control system.

HOW MANY COULD BE SENT TO UKRAINE?

A big plus point for the German-made tanks is their sheer numbers: More than 2,000 have been deployed in more than a dozen European countries and Canada. In all, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann says that more than 3,500 units have been shipped to 19 countries.

Rheinmetall AG, a German defense contractor that makes the 120mm smoothbore gun for the Leopard 2, says the tank has been fielded by “more nations than any other.”

According to a recent analysis by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based global think tank, some 350 Leopard 2s — in various versions — have been shipped to Greece, and Poland has some 250 of various types. Finland has 200 in operation or in storage.

For Ukraine’s war against Russia, “it is believed that for Leopard 2 tanks to have a significant effect on fighting, about 100 tanks would be required,” analysts at the International Institute for Strategic Studies wrote.

Ukraine’s defense minister wants to take delivery of 300 tanks, and some European Union rulers are backing him on that.

“We need a flotilla of 300 tanks,” Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said in Brussels on Monday, citing the extensive deployment of Leopard tanks in Europe and the need for “synchronous” weaponry, which can operate seamlessly together.

Getting the Leopards into Ukrainian hands for friends of Ukraine further west in Europe is not as easy as rolling them across the border. The International Institute for Strategic Studies estimates that three to six weeks of training will be required for operating crews and support personnel to achieve a basic command of these tanks.

Ralf Raths, director of the German Tank Museum in Münster, Germany, said experienced Ukrainian crews would likely learn to use the Leopard 2 fairly quickly, and training could be shortened to focus on essential knowledge.

“Do you really have to use 100% of the potential or is it enough to use 80% in half the time? Certainly the Ukrainians will vote for option B, ”she noted.

WHAT DIFFERENCE WOULD IT MAKE TO WAR?

Yohann Michel, a research analyst for defense and military affairs at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said these tanks could allow Ukraine to go on the offensive in the 11-month conflict, which has long been stalemate after two Ukrainian counteroffensives. crucial weapons that recaptured areas held by Russian forces for months in the northeast and south.

“In this type of conflict, it is simply not possible to carry out large-scale offensives without all the variety of armored fighting equipment and armored vehicles, and tanks are part of that,” he said. In addition to Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) such as the Leopard 2, others include infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers.

Western deliveries of Leopard 2 tanks could help equip Ukraine with necessary high-caliber ammunition to replace its dwindling Soviet-era stockpiles, opening a new avenue for Western arms supplies to reach the country, it said.

Raths noted that the Leopard 2 and similar Western tanks are more agile than the T-models used by Russia, which cannot reverse when moving fast, for example.

“Imagine a boxer who can’t move freely in the ring, but only in one direction,” he said. “The other fighter, who can move in all directions, has a huge advantage and that’s the case with the Leopards.”

Despite this, even western MBTs are vulnerable to air attack, or anti-tank infantry when in forests or urban areas, which highlights the importance of having anti-air and reconnaissance support, Raths noted.

Since both sides have similar tank numbers, the Leopard 2 and similar tanks could give Ukraine the advantage, especially considering the poor tactical performance of Russian soldiers during the war, he said.

“Ukrainians shine through creative, dynamic and often highly effective military operations,” Raths 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 Masuhr, a researcher at the Center for Security Studies at the Zurich-based Swiss federal polytechnic university ETHZ, cautioned that adding Leopards to the battlefield alone would not be “a game changer, nor a technology let the war win, nothing of the sort.”

“You can’t just field a bunch of main battle tanks and assume they’ll win,” he noted. “They are very valuable, but you still need to use them the right way and integrate them with all the other military tools you have at your disposal,” such as infantry, artillery, air defense, combat engineers, and helicopters.

WHY DON’T UKRAINE HAVE LEOPARDS ALREADY?

Germany has the final say on whether Leopard 2s can be delivered – even from other countries’ arsenals – and has been reluctant to let anyone send them to Ukraine.

Harder-line Western allies have been increasing their pressure on Berlin, but Washington has also refused to send its powerful M1 Abrams tanks.

The United States announced an upcoming new military aid package that is expected to include nearly 100 Stryker fighting vehicles and at least 50 Bradley armored vehicles, but not the Abrams, which US officials say has complex maintenance needs and may not be the best fit.

Allies and military analysts say the Leopard uses diesel — unlike the Abrams, which requires aviation fuel — and is easier to operate than bulky US tanks, and therefore requires less training time.

Britain announced this month that it will send Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, and the Czech Republic and Poland have provided Soviet-era T-72 tanks to Ukrainian forces. French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday that he had asked his defense minister to “work” on the idea of ​​sending some French Leclerc tanks to Ukraine.

Even if modern Western MBTs are superior to their Russian counterparts, donor countries supplying them need to prepare for losses, Raths noted.

The Leopard 2 “is an offensive weapon that will get into high-intensity combat,” he said. Some “vehicles will be destroyed, and there will be people who will die inside these tanks.”

___

Jordans reported from Berlin.

This story was originally published on January 23, 2023 11:24 p.m.





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Mark NT
Mark NT
Mark NT was born and raised in the India. He worked at a literary development company as a publisher. He is a creative website writer for teens and a good book reviewer.

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