The Guardian interviewed experts to determine the minimum number of Western-made tanks needed for the Armed Forces of Ukraine to launch a counteroffensive announced for the spring of 2023.
The IISS (International Institute for Strategic Studies) experts interviewed by journalists believe that the Armed Forces of Ukraine need to receive at least 100 Western tanks in the nearest future to conduct a counteroffensive, as the article states. But on the other hand, 100 vehicles is the maximum that the West will be able to squeeze out only on the condition that Berlin does give its official permission. At least to re-export Leopard 2 to Ukraine. It is worth remembering that Poland and Finland, as the initiators of the transfer of such tanks, bought their Leopards from the Bundeswehr as "surplus military property".
This is how the IISS experts got the figure of 100 tanks. According to their estimates, although the Western countries now have "on paper" more than 1,300 Leopard 2 tanks in service and almost 300 such vehicles in storage, in fact only about 100 of them are in a condition where they can be transferred instantly. 12 countries keep Leopard 2 in service now, accordingly, if there is a collective will, it will be quite possible to collect a hundred tanks for Ukraine. In addition, we should not forget about the set of 14 Challenger 2 tanks, which Great Britain is also transferring to Ukraine. So, in general, a set of about 100 MBTs of Western production is being collected, which in theory may soon be obtained by Ukraine’s Armed Forces in the near future.
Thus, this will cover only a third of the minimum request of 300 tanks, which was announced to the Western media by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi. But here it is worth adding that there is an even worse option in terms of transfer of Leopards. For example, the head of Rheinmetall, Armin Papperger, stated that there are only 22 Leopard 2 tanks in the warehouses of the concern, and it may take almost 1 year to fully restore them.
The Guardian also quotes the ex-Chief of Defense Intelligence of Great Britain, Phil Osborne, who pointed out that the success of Leopard 2 and Challenger appearing on the battlefield in Ukraine will depend not only on the number of tanks, but also on their logistical support, the level of training of the crews , and most importantly the idea and plan of the operation for which these MBTs will be used.
The dynamics of the next 8 weeks will show how justified these estimates and assumptions will be, the British publication believes.
Defense Express reminds that in 2023, as part of military aid from the USA, Ukraine should also receive 120 T-72 tanks, modernized in the Czech Republic, so tank deliveries will continue in any format.
But in terms of assistance for the transition of Ukraine’s army to the latest Western MBTs, it is worth asking questions not only about the transfer of tanks straight away, but also about actions for a longer-term perspective. Since there is data in open access that Germany's Rheinmetall needs 2 years after the contract to produce the new Leopard 2, 3 years after the contract for the KF51.
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