Challenger and Leopard tanks have all the attributes to completely change the course of the Ukraine war, military experts have told Express.co.uk Ukraine has consistently called on its Western allies to provide it with modern tanks to help its army expel Russian forces from its territory. Defence analysts have estimated that Kyiv will need at least 300 tanks, if it is to be successful in its campaign against Putin.
Oleh Zhdanov, a Ukrainian military expert told the Associated Press that Kyiv’s victory over the Kremlin would depend to a large extent on the West’s willingness to supply his country with “modern tanks and planes.”
With HIMARS slowly becoming less effective, as Russia‘s army repositions its military supplies and forces further away from the front lines and out of range, tanks are becoming ever more crucial to helping Kyiv achieve further breakthroughs on the battlefield.
The heavy armoured vehicles will allow Ukraine‘s army to retake fortified positions in key cities along the front line.
Britain has already pledged to supply Ukraine‘s army with 14 of its Challenger 2 tanks.
And now it appears that Germany will green-light Poland’s request to send 14 of its Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
In an interview with the French TV station LCI, Berlin’s Foreign Secretary Annalena Baerbock said her government would “not stand in the way” of Poland, if it were asked for permission to dispatch the Leopards.
Glen Grant, a defence analyst at the Baltic Security Foundation and a former British army officer, told Express.co.uk that both tanks were vital to ensure a Ukrainian victory.
He said the Challenger would be best deployed to punch gaps in Russian defensive lines, allowing the Leopards to then race forward and drive home the attack.
Mr Grant said: “I would compare a fully armoured Challenger to a specialist bulldozer for heavy fighting work on a breakthrough, whilst the Leopard is more a common use tractor and easier to use and flexible.
“So for opening a gap use the Challengers en-masse then drive through and exploit with the Leopards.
“If you hit a nasty defensive spot bring the challengers back to break it open by force.”
The Challenger 2 is the British Army’s main tank and was first pressed into service in 1994.
It boasts a 120mm 55-calibre long L30A1 tank gun, and has a Boeing 7.62 Chain gun as a secondary weapon.
The tank has a range of 547 kilometres with a maximum speed of 59 kilometres per hour.
The Leopard 2 was originally designed in the 1970s for the West German army in response to Soviet threats during the Cold War.
They are built to move quickly over a variety of terrain and are armed with both a 120mm Smoothbore gun, and a 7.62mm machine gun.
It can reach speeds of 70 km per hour, or 50 kmp/h when off-road, making manoeuvrability one of its key assets.
Nicholas Drummond, a UK defence expert, told the Express that the Leopard 2 had a superior main gun and offered better protection from anti-tank guided missiles (AGTMs), which he described as “lethal”.
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He explained: “The Leopard 2 has a 120mm smoothbore gun, which is considered to be superior to the Challenger 2’s 120mm rifled gun, because the smoothbore has benefitted from continuous ammunition developments.
“The British Army plans to ditch its older gun and fit a 120mm smoothbore gun to Challenger 3 when it enters service in 2027, after being upgraded.”
He added: “There is a belief that Challenger 2 is better protected than either Leopard 2 or M1 Abrams.
“However, modern ATGMs are lethal. So Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams are fitted with an active protection system.
“This is a defensive system that is able to defeat incoming anti-tank missiles.
“Challenger does not have this feature yet, but again it is planned.”