Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks Have Arrived in Ukraine – In a social media post on Tuesday morning, Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s minister of defense, took a British Challenger 2 main battle tank (MBTs) out for “a spin.”
It was a pleasure to take the first Ukrainian Challenger 2 MBT for a spin.
Such tanks, supplied by the United Kingdom, have recently arrived in our country.
These fantastic machines will soon begin their combat missions.
Thank you, @RishiSunak, @BWallaceMP, and the ???????? people. pic.twitter.com/zoCRmKdBnN
— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) March 28, 2023
At least eight of the British armored vehicles could be seen in the 50-second-long video, with Ukrainian flags flying from the turrets.
The Ukrainian official expressed thanks to the UK people as well as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Minister of Defence Ben Wallace.
“It was a pleasure to take the first Ukrainian Challenger 2 MBT for a spin. Such tanks, supplied by the United Kingdom, have recently arrived in our country. These fantastic machines will soon begin their combat missions. Thank you, @RishiSunak, @BWallaceMP, and the (British) people,” wrote Reznikov from his official Twitter account (@oleksiireznikov).
Both Sunak and Wallace championed sending Kyiv the British tanks.
“It is truly inspiring to witness the determination of Ukrainian soldiers having completed their training on British Challenger 2 tanks on British soil,” said Wallace. “They return to their homeland better equipped, but to no less danger. We will continue to stand by them and do all we can to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
Ready for Action
It is unclear exactly where the video was recorded, but it appeared that the Ukrainian tank crews are now ready to roll into action with their modern war machines.
The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed on Monday that the Ukrainian tank crews have completed their training on the British platform.
“It has been a privilege for the Combat Manoeuvre Centre team to deliver this training to our Ukrainian partners,” said Lieutenant Colonel John Stone of the British Army, who oversaw the training program. “We have all been hugely impressed with the level of competence displayed and have no doubt that that our friends will use the Challenger 2 tanks most effectively in the battles to come as they fight to defend their homeland.”
Tank Show Down Looming
As previously reported this week, a train-load of Russian T-62 medium tanks appeared to be headed to Ukraine.
While it is unknown when those armored vehicles could arrive on the front lines, it also appears increasingly likely that they could face off against modern MBTS, including the British Challenger 2 but also the German Leopard 2.
It was also reported on Tuesday morning that the first eighteen cutting-edge Leopard 2s, considered the most capable MBT in service in the world today, have been delivered to Ukrainian crews who are now being trained on the platform. Berlin had originally promised fourteen MBTs, but increased the number to eighteen while Portugal is contributing three tanks and Sweden another ten. That will allow Ukraine to operate a full tank battalion of the Leopard 2s.
The German tanks were handed over to Ukrainian personnel at the border at the end of last week.
“As promised, our tanks have arrived on time in the hands of our Ukrainian friends,” Boris Pistorius, Germany’s defense minister, said on Monday night, per The Guardian. “I am sure that they can make the difference on the front.”
Poland has also supplied Ukraine with a battalion of older Leopard 2A4 models. While not as advanced as the variant of Leopard 2 being sent from German arsenals, those former Polish tanks are vastly more capable than the T-62s rolling towards the front lines on the Russian trains.
The United States has also pledged to send thirty-one M1A2 Abrams MBTs, which should be operational in Ukraine by the end of this year.
Western military analysts have suggested the modern tank force could be a crucial step in allowing Kyiv to mount a counteroffensive against Russia – however, most agree that Ukraine will still need considerably more MBTs to actually drive out the Kremlin’s forces entirely.
Russia has condemned the UK’s and Germany’s move to send the tanks, and Kremlin officials have vowed that the Western MBTs will “burn” on the battlefields of Ukraine. It is now only a matter of time to see how the Challenger 2 and Leopard 2 – each of which was developed at the end of the Cold War to counter Soviet tanks – fare against the “best” Russia has to offer.
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.