Two German-made Leopard 2 main battle tanks (MBTs) that had been damaged in the fighting in Ukraine aren’t rusting hulks on the battlefield like the thousands of Russian T-72s. Rather, Kyiv’s forces successfully recovered the MBTs, and afterward, the vehicles were sent to neighboring Poland.
The pair of tanks was then repaired at the Polish defense enterprise Bumar-Labedy in Gliwice in southern Poland. Much like a wounded soldier sent back to the front after healing up, the tanks are now on their way back to Ukraine.
The Leopard tank repair hub, which started operating in Poland on July 23, has been repairing other Leopard tanks for the Ukrainian military.
“Poland has repaired the first two Leopard 2 tanks and has already handed them over to the Ukrainian side,” Beata Perkowska, the spokesperson for the Polish Armaments Group (PGZ), told the Ukrinform news outlet.
The tanks had been revamped in just two months, stated to be “record time,” and were handed over to the Ukrainian military last Friday. Both Leopard 2A4 MBTs were restored to their full combat readiness and successfully passed post-repair tests at the training grounds of the defense enterprise.
Images of the Leopard 2s being repaired and then undergoing post-repair tests were shared on social media by the Polish facility.
Back in the Fight
Much had been made earlier this summer when the first Leopard 2 MBTs were damaged and then destroyed in the fighting. However, as experts were quick to point out there will be losses in war. Moreover, as David Axe of Forbes.com reported on Monday, Western-made MBTs are designed around crew survivability.
The crew inside Cold War-era Soviet tanks – including the T-72 – isn’t going to fare well if the tank takes a direct hit. By contrast, European and American tanks are designed with blow-out panels and water sleeves to help forestall ammunition from cooking off. Western tanks simply don’t take catastrophic damage when they take a hit, which means the crew can bail out. Moreover, as we’ve seen, engineers can recover the tank and it can be repaired and sent back into the fight.
In addition, the Ukrainians are taking it a bit further and there have been videos and photos that show some of the tanks – described as Leopard 2A4Vs – with reactive explosive armor. This add-on armor reportedly explodes outward when hit, which further blunts the destructive power of an incoming round. As Axe further noted, that little extra armor could reduce the chance that a damaged Leopard 2 becomes a destroyed Leopard 2.
A number of NATO nations had pledged earlier this year to send the German-made MBTs to aid Kyiv in its war with Russia. The first of the tanks arrived this spring.
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.