In response to Kyiv’s repeated requests for more firepower to breach Russian defensive lines, Germany has agreed to provide the Leopard 2 tank to Ukraine and has let other nations utilising the tank to re-export them.
Due of its many benefits over competing tanks like the British Challenger 2 and the American M1 Abrams, Kiev has been advocating for the Leopard 2 tank in particular.
WHY DOES UKRAINE WANT THE LEOPARD 2?
The Leopard 2 tank has the benefit of being one of the most commonly utilised tanks in the West’s inventory in addition to being one of the best.
Around 20 countries operate the Leopard 2, therefore several of them may contribute a modest number of their tanks to help Ukraine. Ukraine could train crews and handle maintenance more easily if they operated a lot of one model.
Since manufacture started in 1978, more than 3,500 Leopard 2 tanks have been produced.
The tank weighs more than 60 tonnes, has a 120 mm smooth bore cannon, and can hit targets up to five kilometres away. It is made in Germany by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall RHMG.DE (3.1 miles).
Nations operating the Leopard include Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.
HOW MANY LEOPARD 2 TANKS ARE AVAILABLE?
Even though the Leopard 2 tank is frequently employed, it is difficult to find tanks and other heavy weapons in most of the West because many nations significantly scaled back their forces after the fall of the Soviet Union.
According to German military analyst Carl Schulze, Germany currently has roughly 350 Leopard 2 tanks, compared to about 4,000 combat main tanks at the height of the Cold War.
At the same time, purchasing a significant number of Leopard 2 tanks rapidly is all but impossible.
It is against the law for Germany’s defence sector to produce them for stockpiling. Usually, it takes two to three years for governments to receive new tanks they have ordered.
The first new tanks might not leave the factory for at least two years, experts believe, even if output were increased.
WHAT ALTERNATIVE TANKS ARE THERE?
According to U.S. sources, the US is about to reverse its earlier strategy and is ready to transfer dozens of the General Dynamics-built M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine.
However, despite the fact that the M1 Abrams can also run on diesel, they are considered inappropriate for Ukraine due to their gas turbine engines’ high fuel consumption, which would make it difficult for Ukraine to maintain their supply.
Diesel, which burns more efficiently than kerosene and is also more widely available, powers the Leopard 2’s engine.
The British government declared in January that it would supply 14 Challenger 2 combat tanks, or a squadron. However, it is not as popular as the Leopard 2, which reduces the number that may be made available for Ukraine.
Additionally, the Challenger 2’s rifled gun has distinct ammunition needs from the 120 mm smooth bore guns on the M1 Abrams and Leopard 2, which also have them. This limits interoperability.
France stated that all options are on the table and that it was considering sending its Leclerc tank, which has a 120 mm smooth bore cannon. However, it has also stated that the quantity it could send was constrained by French overseas operations and that the tank’s high maintenance requirements made it unsuitable for Ukraine.