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The announcement comes a few days after Poland stated that it would be sending a company of 14 Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine. The U.S. and Germany have also announced that they will be sending dozens of infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine.
The Challenger 2 tank will be an important addition to a Ukrainian military in dire need of more advanced weapon systems.
Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank
The Challenger 2 tank isn’t new. Built in the last years of the previous century, the weapon system is approaching 30 years of service. But the Challenger 2 would be the most advanced tank in the Ukrainian arsenal.
The Challenger 2 tank has a 4-man crew, an L30E4 120mm main gun and two 7.62 machine guns, and can reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. One of Challenger 2’s biggest strengths is its armor. The tank is outfitted with Chobham composite armor that offers a great level of protection against shaped charges and kinetic energy rounds.
Ony the Challenger 2, its predecessor, the Challenger 1, and the U.S. M1 Abrams have been outfitted with Chobham composite armor.
But even a small number could be important if it pushes other European countries—especially Germany—to send Kyiv tanks.
Indeed, Germany holds the keys to Ukraine’s tank aspirations. As the manufacturer of the Leopard 2 main battle tank, Berlin must grant re-export permission to any country that is looking to send its Leopard 2s to Ukraine.
To be sure, neither the Challenger 2 nor the Leopard 2 nor the M1 Abrams would be game changers on the battlefield. They would certainly help the Ukrainian military be more effective on the ground and also save lives as they are better armed and protected.
But they won’t be as influential as other weapon systems sent to Ukraine, such as the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) or M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). But they are still necessary for what Kyiv is planning.
Main Battle Tanks Are Necessary for Ukraine
Approximately 18 percent of the internationally recognized territory of Ukraine—including the Crimean Peninsula—is still under Russian control.
As the fighting season approaches, the Ukrainian military is planning the new phase of its counteroffensives. Following an impressive autumn, in which the Ukrainian forces liberated hundreds of square miles of territory in the east and the south, inflicting thousands of casualties on the Russian military, Kyiv is getting ready to liberate more territory.
But to do so, especially since the Russian forces have had several weeks to bolster their defenses in extensive anti-tank and trench fortifications, Ukraine will need as much military assistance from the West as it can get.
Sending Kyiv Challenger 2, Leopard 2, and M1 Abrams main battle tanks would help the Ukrainian forces to bring the war to a swifter end.
Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. He is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Strategy and Cybersecurity at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.