Wednesday, December 6, 2023

The Leopard 2 proves effective and resistant in Ukraine

Many questions remained unanswered regarding the real effectiveness of the Leopard 2 tank in combat, particularly after the poor performance of Turkish forces against Kurdish fighters in 2019.

In fact, the German tank's engagement in the Ukrainian conflict was a baptism of fire for this armored vehicle, long presented as the best tank in the world. The first results are now available, and reveal that the Leopard 2 lived up to its reputation on the Ukrainian battlefield.

Indeed, of the 71 Leopard 2 tanks delivered to the Ukrainian forces to date, only five have actually been destroyed, and ten damaged, even though the armored vehicle is intensively used by the armies of Kyiv on several difficult fronts.

According to information collected by Forbes , this is an excellent result, in comparison with other heavy tanks in service in Ukraine, although no factual comparison data has been given on this subject.

Very good survival rate of Leopard 2 crews

What is, however, is the very good capacity of the German tank to protect its crews. Indeed, of the 5 tanks destroyed, and the 10 damaged, the Ukrainian armies recorded no deaths among crew members.

Bradley Leopard 2A6 destroyed ukraine e1687878972158
This photo, dating from the start of the Ukrainian counter-offensive, was widely distributed and commented on, in particular to debate the quality of Western equipment delivered to Ukraine. It now appears that the vast majority of the crews of this offensive, probably poorly planned, survived, and that the armored vehicles themselves were able to be recovered and then sent for repairs by the Ukrainian forces.

This constitutes a remarkable result, according to comments from the Kyiv command, much better than the models of Soviet or Russian origin still in the bulk of the Ukrainian armored corps.

This observation does not only apply to the Leopard 2, but to many Western armored vehicles. This is particularly the case for the American Bradleys and the German Marders, which also have survival rates for the crews and personnel transported that are significantly higher than those of the Soviet-designed BMPs and BMDs.

The threat of the Russian Lancet-3 lurking munition

Interestingly, but not really flattering for the German tank, two of the five tanks destroyed were said to have been destroyed by Russian Lancet lurking munitions. In this case, it would be a Leopard 2A4 and an A6, while the Lancet-3 lurking ammunition only carries a military charge of three kilos of explosive, revealing a real weakness of the tank on its horizontal surfaces.

This Twitter thread lists the 5 Ukrainian Leopard 2 tanks destroyed in combat

It is true that the Leopard 2, like all armored vehicles of its generation, had not been designed to resist vertical strikes (low probability in the 1980s), which explains the success of the Lancet-3 against other tanks. Ukrainian heavyweights T-72, T-64 and T-80.

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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