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Leopard 2 tanks for the Ukraine: "Whoever sees the enemy first, aims, shoots and hits, also kills"


Almost 70 km/h fast, around 60 tons heavy and accurate: Germany wants to deliver Leopard 2 main battle tanks to the Ukraine. How can this tank help Kyiv? expert opinions.

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The Leopard 2 main battle tank during an exercise.

After a long back and forth it is clear: Germany will soon deliver this weapon of war to the Ukraine.

Kyiv hopes to be able to recapture Russian-occupied areas with the modern battle tank.

The head of the German Tank Museum at the Bundeswehr base in Munster explains how the Leopard-2 could help Ukraine and what makes it special.

Ralf Raths, Head of the German Tank Museum:

»The main battle tank is actually, in the image of the armored fist, the vehicle that drives forward and forces a breakthrough through firepower.

He pulls up, he shoots, he fights other main battle tanks, that's his main job.

But he also fights other armored vehicles, bunkers, field fortifications, positions, everything there is.

So he is the vehicle that breaks through by force with firepower.«

Now that Germany has given the green light, twelve European countries want to make a total of 80 Leopard-2s available to Ukraine.

Cost per piece: around 12 to 20 million euros.

Germany itself wants to deliver 14 Leopards of the A6 type - a modern variant of the German main battle tank.

Ralf Raths, Head of the German Tank Museum:

»The Leopard's quartet data doesn't change that much.

It's always a tank that weighs around 60 tons, sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on the version.

He has installed a 1500 hp diesel drive at the rear.

That makes it very mobile, it gets very fast - up to 70 km/h under the right conditions.

It has a 120mm smoothbore as its main gun, which has become kind of the gold standard in NATO.

As I said, there are four people in the vehicle and that's it."

For some, the Leopard 2 is considered the best main battle tank in the world.

The heavy device made in Germany is actually a compromise - but a very good one.

Ralf Raths, Head of the German Tank Museum:

»The uniqueness of the Leopard is that it brings the things that a main battle tank has to deliver, this mobility, the protection provided by the armor and the firepower, in a very balanced package.

That said, the cannon isn't the best in the world now, but it's excellent.

The armor isn't particularly new or particularly good, but it's very good.

And the mobility of the vehicle is also simply very good off-road - both top speed and, above all, acceleration and driving through the area when going forwards and backwards.

He's not particularly good at anything, but he doesn't do anything bad either.

And that's what you want on the battlefield."

Ralf Raths shows the interior of the Leopard on the tower.

Unlike the Russian T-tanks, not just three, but four soldiers have to find space here.

Working in the tightest of spaces – and under the highest pressure.

Ralf Raths, Head of the German Tank Museum:

'The crew of the Leopard consists of four people.

One person, the driver, sits in the front of the tub, in the car itself, at the bottom, so to speak, in the front of the vehicle.

The other three people are all in this tower.

On the side where we are right now, the loader is working.

This is the person who has the physically demanding job during the battle.

The job then is simply to take the ammunition, i.e. the large cartridges, and balance them into the breech of the cannon, then close it and report readiness.

This is extremely tiring because these cartridges weigh about 20 to 23 kilos.

On the other side of the cannon, the gunner sits a bit lower in front.

That's the person who really aims and pulls the trigger, that is, who does the firefighting.

But otherwise the commander behind the gunner is in charge, whose job it is to guide the entire vehicle.

Everything has to happen extremely quickly here, because whoever sees the opponent first and takes aim and shoots and hits also kills.«

Perhaps the powerful weapon can actually bring the hoped-for turnaround for Ukraine: get on the offensive from the defensive.

Because the Leopard-2 is actually superior to the Russian main battle tanks - at least in a direct duel.

Ralf Raths, Head of the German Tank Museum:

"That's because the western tanks were built according to this concept during the Cold War.

The individual vehicle was very expensive, very complicated, very large, but it was also powerful and had to be kept alive for a long time.

Whereas the Ostpanzers, those famous T-72s and so on, were built to be none of those things.

But you could build more of it for that.

But now there aren't as many Russian tanks in Ukraine as there would have been during the Cold War.

And that’s where the western tanks can play to their strengths.«

Expert Ralf Raths doesn't see any problems in the Ukrainian armed forces' getting used to moving from east to west tanks.

It will be more important to let the Leopard work in conjunction with other state-of-the-art systems.

Ralf Raths, Head of the German Tank Museum:

"Well, it's difficult to use the vehicle in perfection, in the highest quality.

But the basic functions can be learned relatively quickly and the vehicle can then be used in such a way that its potential is exploited.

Of course, that depends on the one hand on technical operation, but above all on tactical thinking and understanding of the battlefield.

And the Ukrainians have that - more than most other nations in Europe at the moment.

So I'm not too worried that they'll get to grips with the device quickly.«

Everything is at stake for Ukraine.

And that's why Kyiv is not reticent about further weapon systems: On Thursday, Ukraine's Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk demanded that Germany deliver Tornado and Eurofighter fighter jets, warships and submarines.

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2023-01-29

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