Steel against steel: Ukrainian M1A2 Abrams, Leopard 2s, Challenger 2s, and Leclercs take on Russian T-72s, T-80s, and T-90s

Leopards and Abrams considered best tanks in history will have to prove their superiority against Russian tanks.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

The delivery of the tanks that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has requested for months is imminent. For the next phase of the confrontation with Russia, the United States and Germany are prepared to send Abrams and Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv. Olaf Scholz ultimately gave up after weeks of pressure. As Der Spiegel and DPA had predicted, the German chancellor answered positively. In a decision that marked a turning point in the country’s history, Germany will supply tanks to Ukraine. In addition, Berlin will allow ‘client’ states to deliver tanks manufactured in Germany to Kyiv.

Certain German and American tank versions are technologically superior to Soviet tanks, which dominated the fight for the first eleven months. In addition to T-72s and T-80s, Ukraine possesses more modern T-90s captured from the Russian troops during the engagements. Leopards and Abrams, considered the best tanks in history, will have to prove their superiority against the oldest, newest, and most advanced Russian tanks. Increased resources allow Ukraine to prepare plans for Donbas and Crimea, with the prospect of reopening the Mariupol front. The world will witness the battle between the heavy tank and the light tank philosophy by the west and Russia.

Additionally, consideration must be given to the number of tanks. Germany has about 300 Leopard 2s, including 225 of the A5/A6 series, 59 of the A7/A7V series, and 55 Leopard 2 A4s in depots. Over the following three years, 104 Leopard 2 A7Vs will be supplied to the Bundeswehr. The oldest tanks, notably the A4 and the Leopard 1, are predicted to be retired or donated to other nations. According to research provided by Europa Today, the German company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann has manufactured around 3,500 Leopards since 1978. Several NATO states own the tank, which can engage targets at a range of 5 kilometres, and might provide them to Kyiv with Berlin’s agreement.

According to estimates, the United States has more than 6,000 Abrams tanks, including 650 M1A1s and 2,000 M1A2s in various configurations and are active. Three thousand four hundred fifty tanks of both variants are known to be in storage.

The typical cost of a Leopard 2 is roughly 5 million euros, according to estimates from the specialised press. Several nations have purchased the Leopard 2, frequently at secret prices. The price range for the American option is between 4 and 6 million euros, which is comparable.

How many western tanks are to be supplied to Ukraine, and when?

At least twelve nations aim to make available their Leopard 2 tanks. According to the sources, Spain, the Netherlands, and Denmark have also expressed an interest in providing the tanks. Previously, Finland and Poland declared their intention to supply the tanks. 

The Leopards that Poland promised will arrive within a few weeks. “As soon as the Ukrainians complete the training, we will be ready to hand over the equipment to the Ukrainian side. I am convinced it is a matter of weeks,” Polish Deputy Defense Minister Wojciech Skurkiewicz told Radio Plus. Warsaw will provide fourteen tanks. Poland has been at the vanguard of efforts to persuade Germany to approve the shipment of the German-made tanks and has offered to train the Ukrainians in their operation even before Berlin has given its approval.

Defense Minister Margarita Robles announced that Spain is willing to send these tanks and train the Ukrainian military in their maintenance, confirming what the press had speculated and explaining that the government is open to discussing anything that may be required in the context of coordination with the allies. Spain possesses 108 Leopard 2A4 and 239 Leopard 2E tanks, a modified version of the locally manufactured 2A6 type.

Finland has decided to provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks. The declaration was made by Finnish Defense Minister Mikko Savola, who referred to Parliament and described Germany’s decision on the subject as a significant step. “The international community’s decision to transfer Leopard to Ukraine is moving forward. She said, “I cannot give you a specific timeline at this time, but the defence forces will begin preparations.”

The local newspaper Correio da Manha reports that Portugal is prepared to supply Leopard tanks, citing its own knowledgeable sources. “Portugal is ready to send four Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine,” the journal cites a source close to the government. 

If necessary, the Netherlands will also send tanks, as Prime Minister Mark Rutte stressed on national TV Rtl. “If a contribution from the Netherlands helps, we are willing to give it,” Rutte said, adding that the Netherlands could elect to purchase the tanks it now leases from Germany and supply them to Ukraine.

Norway is also considering supplying Leopard 2 tanks manufactured in Germany to Ukraine. The Oslo newspapers Aftenposten and Dagens Naeringsliv revealed this information. The media, citing participants in the discussions, say that no final decision has been made regarding the shipment. Norway may contribute between four and eight of its 36 Leopard 2 tanks, said Dagens Naeringsliv.

Sweden, for its part, has no plans to supply Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, although it does not rule out the possibility in the future. Defense Minister Pal Jonson reported this to the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper. On Swedish radio last Friday, the minister emphasised that there are no widespread objections to sending tanks to Ukraine.

Canada will deliver four Leopard 2 tanks manufactured in Germany to Ukraine “in the coming weeks.” Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand stated this, leaving up the potential of sending additional Leopards in the future.

The United States will send 31 advanced M1 A2 Abrams tanks worth $400 million to Ukraine, the equivalent of a battalion. According to Pentagon Deputy Spokesperson Sabrina Singh, these transfers are part of “long-term” capabilities and are not expected to reach Ukraine for months.


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