Germany Ready to Send Tanks to Ukraine – If America Does So First: The German Leopard 2 main battle tank (MBT) is considered among the very best in the world, which is why Kyiv has repeatedly pleaded with Berlin to allow the tanks to be sent to aid its war effort.
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Germany has remained cautious about how the delivery of MBTs could further escalate the war.
At the same time, the sending of largely offensive weapons to Ukraine could serve as a reminder of Germany’s Nazi past, where Germany was engaged in some of the largest tank battles of the Second World War.
According to the BBC, recent domestic opinion polls in Germany found that 41% of the public believed Germany was supplying the right amount of weapons. By contrast, 26% thought its support went too far, while 25% felt Germany wasn’t sending enough military aid to Ukraine.
Germany Open to a Deal
On Thursday, German officials including Chancellor Olaf Scholz suggested that they would be open to sending the Leopard 2 provided the United States also sent its M1 Abrams MBT as well.
Clearly, Berlin doesn’t want to be seen as leading the way on any escalation – and instead is seeking to coordinate any efforts with its NATO allies.
The UK has already pledged to send a number of Challenger 2 MBTs. However, Colin Kahl, the Pentagon’s top security advisor said the U.S. isn’t prepared to supply any M1 Abrams MBTs.
“I just don’t think we’re there yet. The Abrams tank is a very complicated piece of equipment. It’s expensive,” said Kahl. “It’s hard to train on. It has a jet engine.”
Most military experts believe the Leopard 2 is the better choice, even as Poland is adopting the M1 Abrams, while a number of soldiers are already training with it. At issue is that the M1 Abrams is powered by a gas-turbine engine, which was designed to burn jet fuel; something it doesn’t do especially efficiently. It makes for a speedy tank, but almost every other armored vehicle – including the Leopard 2 – runs on diesel fuel. That could present logistical challenges for the Ukrainian military, which would need a steady supply of JP-8 aviation fuel delivered to the front.
Or maybe not.
As David Axe, writing for Forbes.com, noted the Abrams’ AGT1500 Honeywell gas-turbine engine in theory can run any fuel that is thin enough to move through the lines. The Australian Army’s M1s have run on diesel without problems, but the tanks still burn a lot of it!
Lots of Leopard Tanks
There are currently more than 2,000 Leopard 2s in service with NATO – and those tanks were designed during the Cold War to counter the best the Soviet Union had at the time. Even decades later, the Leopards 2 are better than anything Moscow is employing in Ukraine.
Germany has set up barriers to the Leopards 2 deployment in the war, but it finally appears that Berlin is at least open to the idea of allowing the MBTs to prove they are, in fact, the best.
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.