In the 13 weeks since the launch of its counteroffensive in areas in southern and eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian forces lost five of its 71 Leopard 2 tanks. At least 10 more tanks have been damaged and are undergoing repairs.
Ukrainian army lost only 5 of its 71 Leopard 2 tanks – Forbes
These figures were reported by the American magazine Forbes.
According to Forbes, all of the Leopard 2 losses occurred in a 25-square-mile (about 65 square kilometres) square bounded by Mala Tokmachka to the north and Robotyne to the south in the Zaporizhzhya region.
Ukrainian armed forces advanced in this area with the liberation of Robotyne and Urozhaine from Russian occupation.
Leopard 2 tanks helped to save crews’ lives
It is likely that almost every crew member of the five destroyed tanks – 20 people in total – managed to leave their Leopard 2 tank before it burned or exploded.
Photos and videos of four of the five Leopard-2 losses show open hatches on the tanks’ turrets and hulls, which the publication interprets as evidence that the crews managed to escape.
Damaged Leopard 2 tanks are repaired and returned to the frontline
Ukrainians are repairing the damaged tanks in Poland and Germany and returning them to the frontline to fight Russian invading forces.
The publication emphasizes that due to the fundamental strength of the 69-ton Leopard-2, this tank can be damaged, stopped for repairs, returned to battle, be damaged again, and sent back for repairs.
“Forbes quotes a Ukrainian soldier, Oleksandr Solonko, as saying that Western combat tanks “save lives” and that “even the most critically damaged equipment can be restored and repaired.”
“Tank coalition” provides Ukraine with more modern Leopard tanks
A coalition of NATO countries, including Canada, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, have pledged to provide Ukraine with 10 Strv 122s – Swedish modifications of the Leopard 2A5, 21 Leopard 2A6 and 74 Leopard 2A4.
All these tanks, except for 14 A4s, have arrived at the frontline.
The A4 tank of the 1980s is the most minor complex of the Leopard 2 tanks. The Strv 122 and A6 tanks of the 1990s have new composite armour, better optics, and – in the case of the A6 – a longer and more powerful 120mm main gun.
The German tank companies KMW and Rheinmetall built the Leopard 2 with special compartments for 120mm ammunition, which explodes outward, away from the crew, upon impact.
Russian tanks, on the other hand, store ammunition under the turret. When the shell explodes, it flies into the sky with the turret and three crew members.
This is why it is much easier to damage a Leopard-2 and scare its crew than to destroy a Leopard-2 and kill its crew. In contrast, a precise hit on a Russian T-72 could catastrophically blow up the tank and crew.
No Strv 122 tanks have been confirmed destroyed
Assuming that each destroyed Leopard-2 left behind visual evidence of its destruction, only five Leopard-2s have been written off since the start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive on June 4. The losses include two of the 50 deployed A4s and three counteroffensive yed A6s. No Strv 122s have been confirmed destroyed.
5 tanks are out of service, and another 10 are undergoing repairs, but Ukrainian brigades still have more than 50 active Leopard 2s out of the 71 units in the initial batch.
Forbes notes that a new batch of 14 Leopard 2A4s due to arrive early next year should more than makeup for these losses.
More western-made tanks are coming, including 31 former U.S. M1 Abrams tanks with even heavier armour than most Leopard 2s.
But the Ukrainians are also getting at least 165 German Leopard 1A5s, which have minimal armour protection, unlike the Leopard 2, Challenger 2, and M1 Abrams.