More Leopard 2 Tanks: Ukraine needs more main battle tanks to defeat Russia, but it also needs the facilities to keep as many of its tanks operational.
Poland is now stepping up and announced that it will send ten German-made Leopard 2 main battle tanks (MBTs) later this week, adding to the four that have already been deployed to Ukraine.
In addition, Warsaw has said that it will set up a maintenance hub for Ukraine’s Leopard 2s to aid in repairs and refurbishment.
The latter announcement is meant to address issues with ensuring that the MBTs are properly kept in working order – especially as there have been reports that many of the Cold War-era armored fighting machines in the arsenals of various NATO members have been poorly maintained. That fact has led some within the alliance to question its readiness for a modern conflict.
“We are also scheduled for talks with Boris Pistrius, the German defense minister. The basic issue we will talk about is the low availability of spare parts for Leopard tanks,” Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak told reporters on Tuesday.
He added that the problem could be addressed by the German arms industry and that Poland was also ready and able to produce any parts needed for the German-made tanks.
“We are ready to launch a service hub in Poland, which will deal with the repair and service of Leopard tanks delivered to Ukraine,” said Blaszczak.
It was only in January that Berlin finally agreed to supply Ukraine with the Leopard 2 MBT, while it also approved the sending of the tanks from other NATO and partner nations. To date, Poland, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Finland, and Portugal have announced plans to send some of their respective Leopard 2s to Ukraine – while the governments of Denmark and the Netherlands have said they would help fund some of the costs to refurbish older Leopard 1 tanks. Ukraine could receive as many as 178 of the 1970s-era MBTs from various European Union and NATO members.
Though an older model, these are still far newer and likely better suited to modern combat than some of the antiquated hardware that Russia has thrown into the fight – notably its T-62 medium tanks, which are upwards of six decades old.
Coming Very Soon – Leopard 2 Tanks
The Leopard 2 tanks provided by Germany and Portugal could be delivered by the end of the month, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius announced on Wednesday. This could include 18 from Germany and three more from Portugal.
Over the past year, Kyiv’s forces have primarily utilized Soviet-designed tanks, including the T-72, with some coming from former Warsaw Pact states, while Ukraine’s forces have captured significant numbers that were abandoned by their Russian tank crews.
Ukrainian teams, which have been made up of various craftsmen and automotive repairmen, have sought to keep as many of its aging tanks as possible operational.
Some older platforms have also been repurposed as recovery vehicles.
Russia too has been forced to “improvise” by piecing together tanks from leftover parts.
It had been a strategy employed by the Soviet Red Army during the Second World War, where damaged tanks were repaired using parts from those destroyed/disabled vehicles.
These facts are notable as Ukraine is about to have far more capable Western-made MBTs rolling into action, while Russia’s military will be increasingly relying on so-called “Frankenstein” tanks.
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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.