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Ukraine Lost NATO Leopard 2 Tanks (But Putin Shouldn’t Get Excited)

Leopard 2 Tank. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Leopard 2 Tank.

The Ukrainian military will likely be receiving additional Leopard 2 main battle tanks to replace combat casualties it has suffered on the counter-offensive.

In addition, Ukrainian pilots will soon be starting training on the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet as the case for sending Ukraine Western fighter jets gains momentum.

Leopard 2 Main Battle Tanks

The Ukrainian military has almost 100 Leopard 2 tanks in service right now, making the German-made main battle tank the most populous Western tank in service with the Ukrainian forces.

As such, the Leopard 2 is playing an important role in the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the Donbas and southern Ukraine.

But the fleet of Ukrainian Leopard 2s has taken casualties. Last week, during a mechanized push in Zaporizhzhia, the Ukrainian military lost several M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and a couple of Leopard 2A6 tanks. The Ukrainian forces have also lost a few Leopard 2A4s from enemy fire but also from the terrain (stuck in the mud).

The West is now looking to replace Ukrainian losses and send additional tanks on top of that. Earlier this week, the Swiss National Council began a vote to decommission 25 Leopard 2A4 tanks and resell them back to Germany. In return, Berlin is likely to ship those tanks to Ukraine. In addition, Denmark and the Netherlands are buying 14 Leopard 2s from the manufacturer Rheinmetall on behalf of Ukraine. It is thus likely that Ukraine will have an additional 39 Leopard 2s in its arsenal soon.

Compared to Russian tanks, the Leopard 2 has improved night-time fighting capabilities and thermal sensors. That makes the Ukrainian tank much more dangerous in the fields of Ukraine. Indeed, Russian troops that have encountered the Leopard 2 already speak with reverence about its capabilities.

F-16 Fighting Falcons for Ukraine

On top of the additional Leopard 2 tanks, the Ukrainian military might soon be receiving F-16 fighter jets. However, unlike the Leopard 2s, the case around the F-16s is trickier.

On Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced that Ukrainian pilots are already training on the F-16 fighter jet, but it was uncertain when the Ukrainian Air Force might be getting the fourth-generation fighter jet.

“Exactly when decisions will be taken – it’s too early to say, but the fact that training has started provides us with the option to also decide to deliver planes, and then the pilots will be ready to fly them,” Stoltenberg said.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley provided insight on the practical considerations around the effort to equip the Ukrainian Air Force with F-16 fighter jets

“There’s a lot of work to do. You have to do language training. You have to do pilot training. You’ve got to get all the systems set in place. So those wheels are in motion, but we’re away from completion of that project,” Gen. Milley said.

Denmark and the Netherlands have launched a joint training program to train Ukrainian pilots on the F-16 Fighting Falcon. Having trained pilots makes the transfer of aircraft that much more likely. 

A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. He is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Strategy, Cybersecurity, and Intelligence at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

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1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.