The vast majority of German constructed Leopard 2 tanks operated by the Ukrainian Army have been rendered inoperable in fight with Russian forces, with over one quarter completely destroyed and the rest broken past the Army’s skill to restore them. Overseas Affairs, the journal of the US’ most influential overseas coverage suppose tank the Council on Overseas Relations, highlighted that the tanks had confirmed to be “hardly invulnerable superweapons.” “Of the less than 100 Leopard 2s in Ukrainian service, no less than 26 have been knocked out; others can’t be used because of restore and upkeep points,” the evaluation added, highlighting that the efficiency of Ukrainian forces provided “little proof that higher tanks would have been decisive.” Whereas Leopard 2s have been provided by a number of European states, Overseas Affairs added that M1 Abrams tanks provided by the US had been held again removed from the frontlines, which it defined by noting that the Ukrainian Army was “up-armouring them to withstand assaults by Russia’s explosive-laden first-person-view drones.” It has been extensively speculated that after delaying deliveries till after Ukraine’s summer season offensives misplaced steam, Washington has additionally sought to make sure that the Abrams is not going to be deployed for prime depth fight because the Leopard was in an effort to keep away from reputational injury to its defence sector from the lack of certainly one of its most iconic merchandise.
A reference by Overseas Affairs to Ukraine’s lack of the required assist infrastructure to keep up its fleet follows a report earlier within the month by a parliamentarian from Germany’s ruling Inexperienced Occasion, Sebastian Schafer, that solely a fraction of Leopard 2A6 tanks, essentially the most succesful variants delivered, have been accessible for service. “Sadly, it must be famous that solely a really small variety of the battle tanks delivered can now be utilized by Ukraine,” he noticed on the time. Beforehand in November Forbes had reported that the Ukrainian Army had already misplaced “1 / 4 of its finest German-made tanks.” The Leopard 2 was lengthy anticipated to take very heavy losses towards Russian forces based mostly on the category’ prior efficiency when deployed by the Turkish Army towards Islamic State and Kurdish insurgents in Syria and Iraq. Senior Turkish officers on the time referred to their forces as experiencing “trauma” because of the excessive losses taken towards comparatively flippantly armed militias.
The Leopard 2A6 was first seen taking a number of losses in Ukraine in early June simply days after it was confirmed to be collaborating in offensives towards Russian positions. Footage of Russian forces capturing deserted American and German constructed armour first emerged at round that point, with extra having emerged since on a number of events. Footage has since proven the destruction of Leopard 2s on a number of events, with profitable kills gained utilizing a variety of weapons from mines and man-portable Kornet missiles to new Vikr-1 missiles launched by Russian assault helicopters. Alongside the Leopard 2, and far larger losses affecting ageing Leopard 1 models, the British Challenger 2 tank additionally noticed two of the twelve automobiles provided destroyed by Russian forces in the course of the class’ very temporary deployment close to the frontlines in August. Past points with their armour safety ranges and upkeep wants, Leopard tanks have additionally fared poorly in Ukraine’s winter mud – a difficulty their predecessors famously confronted within the Second World Struggle. Russian T-80 tanks with fuel turbine engines, the identical engine sort utilized by the American M1 Abrams, have confirmed rather more able to working in such terrain. Western sources have notably extensively sought to downplay claims that German tank designs undergo from efficiency points and lack survivability, incessantly claiming that Ukrainian forces’ techniques and their incapacity to undertake NATO normal strategies of operation have been the first trigger for the losses suffered.