All news

Ukrainian personnel need years to train on Leopard tanks, warn experts

According to the expert, the program of training in Germany or Great Britain takes more than 12 months and the Polish servicemen trained for two to three years to operate Leopard tanks

MOSCOW, January 25. /TASS/. It may take years for Ukrainian military personnel to learn how to operate German Leopard 2 and British Challenger 2 tanks, so foreign crews will most likely operate them on the battlefield, military experts polled by TASS said on Wednesday.

Besides, upkeep of these tanks may prove to be complicated for the Ukrainian army, plus they have some features that allow Russian weapons to wipe them out, the experts stressed.

As Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine reported on Tuesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made the decision after months of debating on the delivery of a company of Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine. It was earlier reported that Poland officially requested that Berlin authorize the re-export of a company of these combat vehicles to the Kiev regime. In addition, the United Kingdom intends to hand over 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine in the coming weeks.

No time to train Ukrainian personnel to operate tanks

It won’t be possible to quickly train Ukrainian crews, who until recently have handled only Soviet armor, to learn how to operate these Western tanks, editor of the Arsenal of the Fatherland magazine Alexey Leonkov said.

"If we look at the program of training in Germany or Great Britain, it will take more than 12 months. The Poles who once received Leopards trained for two to three years to operate them. Moreover, these were contract-enlisted personnel, that is, military professionals," the expert explained.

It is not enough for a tank crew to learn to ride an armored vehicle and fire its guns in accomplishing combat missions: it has to turn into "a well-coordinated team capable of operating both on its own and as part of platoons, companies and battalions," he pointed out, adding that this process would take more than 12 months.

"For example, this training took two years in the Soviet army. By the end of the second year of training, a tank crew consisting of conscripted personnel was already prepared for accomplishing any combat assignments. But Leopard and Challenger tanks are more complex to operate because they are full of various electronics and any ‘bungling’ may cause breakdowns," he cautioned.

It may take about a month for Ukrainian military personnel to learn how to operate but a major problem is that the tank control tools have signs in a foreign language. During a battle, the crew has no time to guess where the required handle is and needs to act instantly, TASS military analyst Viktor Litovkin pointed out.

"You have to keep in mind that there is a crew of four instead of three there [in Leopard and Challenger tanks]: it is not easy for a loader in a swinging vehicle to take a shell from a stack and pull it into the breech-loader," the expert explained.

"The loader’s role in these Western tanks is very high but a Ukrainian serviceman won’t be able to cope with it, Litovkin noted.

"The rate of fire by Leopard, Challenger and Abrams tanks mentioned in manuals is achieved through the loader’s smooth work. In Russian tanks, however, this work is carried out by an automated system. Just imagine how much you need to train the loader to enable him to make a shot quickly," the TASS expert said.

In tank battles, the vehicle’s rate of fire is a factor that ensures the tank’s survivability: the one who fires first, survives," he stressed.

"More time is needed to train Ukrainian personnel to operate tanks and this time is not available. Tanks were needed long ago and they need to arrive with skilled crews to smoothly fulfill the objectives, know when to assume firing positions and when to leave them," the military expert elaborated.

All the crew members in knocked-out Krab self-propelled artillery systems that Poland had transferred to Ukraine were Poles, which suggests that foreign tanks will also be operated by foreigners, expert Leonkov said.

Russian reality to debunk Western tank hype

The Leopard tank can be easily engaged by Russian anti-tank missiles as proved during the Turkish army’s operation against Kurdish formations in Syria, Leonkov said.

"The Kurds set these tanks on fire with the first-generation Malyutka anti-tank missile systems produced in the 1960-1970s," he said.

"They torched these tanks so successfully that the Turks gave up their ground operation with tank support and switched to simply remotely bombarding Kurdish positions by aircraft, artillery and multiple launch rocket systems," the expert pointed out.

Russia’s anti-tank systems can obliterate not only Leopards and Challengers but also America’s Abrams tanks if they arrive for Ukraine, Litovkin said.

"The hype about these tanks as the best in the world will instantly go bust when confronted with Russian reality - Russia’s Kornet, Fagot and any other anti-tank missile systems - and, all the more so, with Russian tanks, the expert said, specifying that even Soviet-era T-80 and T-72B3 tanks would wipe out Western armor.

Expert Leonkov also highlighted the Russian T-72’s efficiency in destroying German and British armored vehicles. "It is very effective against tanks, especially its B3 modification, which features a new fire control system and new APFSDS [Armor-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabots]. So, it can pierce a Leopard at any angle," he pointed out.

Height is the weak point of these tanks, Litovkin noted. "Our tank is 2.23 meters high whereas their armor is almost three meters high: 2.70-2.90 meters, to say nothing of the fact that the Abrams is a meter longer than any of our tanks. The larger the armor, the easier target it is," he stressed.

The weakness of Leopard 2A4 tanks expected to be delivered to the Kiev regime is that they can fire only when they come to a halt, Leonkov added.

"Our tanks are capable of accurately hitting the target while on the move by rotating the turret while their armor will have to grind to a halt. This takes precious time and, moreover, nothing else can be a better target than an immovable tank since it is easier to take aim at it," he explained.

If Western tanks sustain damage on the battlefield in Ukraine, the Ukrainian military may find it difficult to repair them, the expert noted. "For example, if a caterpillar tread is knocked out, how can it be changed and in what sequence? If an engine runs idle, the causes of the problem need to be established," the expert explained, pointing out that a tank crew must address these problems "instantly, without a manual." However, the Ukrainian military will have no problems with tank filling: as Litovkin explained, they are multi-fuel vehicles.

Forty Western tanks for entire front

The West can supply a total of about 40 tanks to the Kiev regime, with 14 vehicles arriving from Great Britain, 12 from Poland and another 12 from Germany. This amount will in no way affect the balance of power in the conflict whose front line stretches over almost 1,000 km. Litovkin said.

"If we look at the Russian Defense Ministry’s statistics, we can see that we have wiped out 7,600 armored targets, including about 850 tanks, since the beginning of the special military operation. The Poles earlier already supplied about 200 T-72 tanks to Ukraine. All of them have used up their resources or have been destroyed by Russian forces. A battalion more or a battalion less, this will have no impact on the front line," the expert emphasized.