For Ukraine, what’s so special about Germany’s Leopard 2 tanks?

Note

As the war in Ukraine approaches its one-year anniversary, Kyiv is pushing Western allies to provide advanced tanks to fight Russian forces. There is a model that Ukrainians want. German-made Leopard 2.

Other countries have offered different tanks, such as Britain, which pledged 14 Challenger 2 models earlier this month. But the Leopard 2’s speed and ease of use, as well as the fact that there are already a large number of them in Europe, made them more attractive to Kyiv.

In a statement last week, Ukraine’s foreign and defense ministers welcomed Britain’s bold and timely decision to send a fleet of Challenger 2 tanks, but said it was insufficient to meet operational objectives. They continued to ask “countries in service of Leopard 2 tanks” to deliver them to Ukraine.

The focus on tanks has become a geopolitical headache for Berlin, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government has refused requests to ship the Leopard 2. This week, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in an interview with French television. Her government “will not stand in the way” if Poland insists on sending its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

After Germany’s chancellor said it would allow Leopard 2 tanks to be sent to Ukraine on January 23, Berlin said it would not prevent them. (video-recorder)

Here’s what you need to know about the Leopard 2 and why Ukraine needs them.

Why Ukraine prefers Leopard 2?

The Leopard 2 was first introduced in 1979 and has since been upgraded several times, earning it a reputation as one of the best main battle tanks in the world.

It was designed to replace the original Leopard tank introduced in 1965 by West German arms manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. The Leopard 2 is more advanced than the Soviet-era tanks fielded by Russian and Ukrainian forces.

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Even older versions of the tank have modern optics, including thermal imaging, which allow them to operate day and night, and have a zoom and laser range finder to track targets. The tanks weigh 55 tons, but are built to move quickly with a top speed of 44 miles per hour, according to the manufacturer.

The Leopard 2 has a variety of features designed to protect the crew. Compartmentalized ammunition storage avoids the high explosive charge seen with Russia’s T-72 tanks, and ammunition is stored under the crew.

The tank is powered by a diesel engine and is relatively easy to fill up, extending the vehicle to about 210 miles on the road. It also uses standard NATO 120 mm ammunition, which will give Ukraine’s suppliers access to larger tanks than its current tanks, which require 125 mm.

How many Leopard 2s are there? Where are they located?

Researchers estimate that there are more than 2,000 Leopard 2 tanks in Europe. More than half, including more than 200 in Germany’s stockpile, are believed to be older 2A4 and 2A5 variants, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

A spokesman for German arms group Rheinmetall said the company could send 139 Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine if needed. Some won’t arrive until the end of this year or early 2024, Reuters reported.

Most of Germany’s exports have already been sent to European countries or NATO member states such as Canada and Turkey. Other countries that have purchased Leopard 2 tanks are Singapore; Chile and Qatar.

Ukraine is partially focused on the Leopard 2, and Europe has several, so they can easily get them onto the battlefield. But under agreements with buying countries, the German government must sign off on any transfer.

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In a note released in September, the European Council on Foreign Relations called on Western countries to support a plan to send Leopard 2s to Ukraine, saying, “The more countries donate tanks, the easier it is to give them.” away.”

What about other options, including the US M1 Abrams?

When it comes to main battle tanks, the Leopard 2 has a major rival to the American-made M1 Abrams.


A competitive battlefield

Heavyweight

Germany’s Leopard 2 main battle tank and the American M1 Abrams boast similar measurements and capabilities. Some of the similarities are deliberate to ensure that the tanks can cooperate on NATO’s battlefields.

Sources: Federation of American Scientists;

Military-Today.com

William NEFF / The Washington Post

Comparable battlefield heavyweights

Germany’s Leopard 2 main battle tank and the American M1 Abrams boast similar measurements and capabilities. Some of the similarities are deliberate to ensure that the tanks can cooperate on NATO’s battlefields.

Sources: Federation of American Scientists; Military-Today.com

William NEFF / The Washington Post

Comparable battlefield heavyweights

Germany’s Leopard 2 main battle tank and the American M1 Abrams boast similar measurements and capabilities. Some of the similarities are deliberate to ensure that the tanks can cooperate on NATO’s battlefields.

120mm cannon

120mm cannon

About 70 tons.

About 55 tons

Sources: Federation of American Scientists; Military-Today.com

William NEFF / The Washington Post

Comparable battlefield heavyweights

Germany’s Leopard 2 main battle tank and the American M1 Abrams boast similar measurements and capabilities. Some of the similarities are deliberate to ensure that the tanks can cooperate on NATO’s battlefields.

120mm cannon

120mm cannon

Sources: Federation of American Scientists; Military-Today.com

William NEFF / The Washington Post

In service since 1980; The M1 Abrams has similar specs to the Leopard 2, but has some clear advantages. Modern versions have depleted uranium armor protection layers that provide significant advantages to the crew.

In a phone call earlier this month, Scholz suggested to President Biden that Germany should send M1 Abrams to unlock Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine.

However, the Biden administration has argued that American-made tanks are too weak to field in Ukraine.

They use tougher jet fuel compared to the diesel used by the Leopard 2. The tank once weighed 60 tons, but over the years the weight has ballooned. Newer versions can weigh nearly 75 tons, adding to transportation difficulties. For example, driving over a bridge carries a lot of weight.

They also have complex maintenance requirements; U.S. officials told reporters that specialized training was required.

The War in Ukraine: What You Need to Know

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Russian gambling Senior U.S., U.S. President Donald Trump has criticized Western efforts to thwart the Kremlin’s plans for war in Ukraine. Ukraine Extensive interviews were conducted with more than three dozen European and NATO officials.

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