Explainer-Why has Ukraine sought Leopard 2 battle tanks? By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Members of the army stand subsequent to a tank, as Germany delivers its first Leopard tanks to Slovakia as a part of a deal after Slovakia donated preventing automobiles to Ukraine, in Bratislava, Slovakia, December 19, 2022. REUTERS/Radovan Stoklasa

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(Reuters) – Germany has agreed to ship its Leopard 2 tank to Ukraine and allowed different international locations utilizing the German-built tank to re-export them, responding to months of pleading from Kyiv for further firepower to interrupt by Russian defensive strains.

Kyiv has been pushing for the Leopard 2 tank specifically as a result of it has a number of benefits over the alternate options, equivalent to Britain’s Challenger 2 and the U.S. M1 Abrams tanks.

WHY DOES UKRAINE WANT THE LEOPARD 2?

One benefit of the Leopard 2 tank is that, in addition to being among the finest tanks within the West’s arsenal, it is usually one of the vital extensively used.

With some 20 nations working the Leopard 2, a number of nations might every chip in a small portion of their tanks to help Ukraine. Working numerous one mannequin would make it simpler for Ukraine to coach crew and handle upkeep.

Greater than 3,500 Leopard 2 tanks have been constructed since manufacturing started in 1978.

The tank, produced collectively by German corporations Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall, weighs greater than 60 tonnes, has a 120 mm clean bore gun and may hit targets at a distance of as much as 5 km (3.1 miles).

Nations working the Leopard embody Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.

HOW MANY LEOPARD 2 TANKS ARE AVAILABLE?

Though the Leopard 2 tank is extensively used, tanks and different heavy weapons are in scarce provide in many of the West as a result of many international locations drastically decreased the dimensions of their militaries after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Germany has about 350 Leopard 2 tanks at this time, in comparison with some 4,000 battle essential tanks on the top of the Chilly Battle, based on German army professional Carl Schulze.

On the similar time, it’s all however inconceivable to purchase a considerable amount of Leopard 2 tanks shortly.

Germany’s defence business is banned by legislation from producing them for stock-keeping. Usually, international locations ordering new tanks should be ready to attend two to 3 years for supply.

Even when manufacturing have been ramped up, specialists say it might take not less than two years for the primary new tanks to depart the manufacturing facility.

WHAT ALTERNATIVE TANKS ARE THERE?

America operates hundreds of M1 Abrams tanks constructed by Common Dynamics (NYSE:) and is poised to ship dozens to Ukraine in a reversal of its earlier coverage, U.S. officers say.

However the M1 Abrams are seen as unsuitable for Ukraine as they’re pushed by gasoline turbine engines with excessive gasoline consumption that may create a problem for Ukraine to maintain them equipped regardless that they run can even run on diesel.

The Leopard 2 runs on a extra economical engine that burns diesel, which can be simpler to acquire than kerosene.

The British authorities introduced in January it will ship a squadron, or 14, of its Challenger 2 battle tanks. Nonetheless, in contrast to the Leopard 2, it isn’t extensively used, which limits what number of could be made out there for Ukraine.

As well as, in contrast to the M1 Abrams and the Leopard 2 which each have a 120 mm clean bore gun, the Challenger 2 has a rifled gun with completely different ammunition necessities, proscribing interoperability.

France has stated it was contemplating sending its Leclerc tank, which has a 120 mm clean bore gun, saying all choices are on the desk. But it surely has additionally stated French abroad missions restricted the quantity it had out there to ship and has stated the tank’s heavy-maintenance calls for meant it was not superb for Ukraine.

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