With the war in Ukraine approaching the end of its first year, Kyiv is pushing the Western allies to provide modern combat tanks to confront the Russian forces, as there has been talk for some time about a specific model that the Ukrainians want specifically, which is the German-made Leopard 2 tanks.
But why does Ukraine prefer this type of tank in particular? What distinguishes it, for example, from its American-made “Abrams” or other tanks?
Other countries have offered different tanks, such as Britain, which promised 14 Challenger 2 models earlier this month.
But the Leopard 2’s speed and ease of use, plus the fact there are already so many of them in Europe, made it more attractive to Kiev.
The most advanced in the Soviet era
The Leopard 2 was first introduced in 1979 and has been upgraded several times since then, earning a reputation as one of the best main battle tanks in the world.
It was designed by West German arms producer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann to replace the original Leopard tank, which entered service in 1965.
The Leopard II is also more advanced than many of the Soviet-era tanks fielded by both Russian and Ukrainian forces.
Even older versions of the tank have modern optics, including a thermal imager, which allows it to operate day and night, as well as zoom and a laser rangefinder to track targets.
Leopard tank (AFP)--
Fast despite its weight
The tank is designed to move at a maximum speed of about 44 miles per hour despite its 55-tonne weight, according to the manufacturer.-
The Leopard 2 also features a variety of features designed to protect the crew.
It is powered by a diesel engine, which is relatively easy to refuel and gives it an extended range of about 210 miles on the road.
It also uses standard NATO 120mm ammunition, which will give Ukraine access to a wider range of suppliers than current tanks, which require 125mm.
Leopard tank (AFP)
How many Leopard 2’s and where are they located?
In addition, researchers estimate that there are more than 2,000 Leopard 2 tanks in Europe.
More than half are believed to be older 2A4s and 2A5s, including more than 200 stored in Germany itself, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Ukraine focused on this type of tank precisely because there are plenty of them in Europe, and they can be taken to the battlefield with relative ease. But under agreements with buying countries, the German government must sign and approve them before they can be exported.