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European tanks slated for Ukraine inferior to Russian armor’s firepower, says expert

The Leopard-2A4 tank lacks reactive armor that shields against strikes by high-explosive munitions

MOSCOW, January 19. /TASS/. The British Challenger 2 and German Leopard 2 tanks that the Kiev regime may soon receive in Western military aid have some weaknesses compared to Russian armor and are inferior by their fire rate and mobility, Sergey Suvorov, armor expert, Candidate of Military Sciences and retired colonel, told TASS on Thursday.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Office announced on January 14 that London would hand over 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks to the Kiev regime. On January 11, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said that his country was ready to supply Ukraine with a company of German Leopard tanks operational in the Polish army.

Speaking to TASS, the armor expert pointed to the Challenger 2 tank’s heavy protection but medium firepower.

"The Challenger has splendid protection and medium firepower as it carries a rifled 120mm cannon with separate-loading ammunition and, therefore, its rate of fire is lower than that of our tanks with automated loading," he explained.

In tanks with separate loading, a crew member needs to insert a shell and a casing into the breechloader and push them further into the bore before making a shot, he elaborated.

"The vehicle makes the first three shots at a normal rate but then … The loader’s operation can be compared with the operation of an automated loading system like the way a runner climbing up a staircase can be compared to an elevator. They will reach the second floor simultaneously and the runner may even come first, but the elevator normally emerges first at the 10th floor, to say nothing about the 16th floor," the expert pointed out.

The British main battle tank also has a large mass, which may affect its mobility on Ukrainian terrain, he said.

"The mobility is lower because the mass is large. This poses a limitation: it won’t be able to move across all bridges and will get stuck," the expert explained, saying that the Challenger has a weight of 75 metric tons with extra armor.

Leopard without protection

Touching upon Germany’s Leopard tank, the expert pointed to the vehicle’s fairly good fire control system coupled with the commander’s sight capability and also its thermal imaging sight.

The Leopard-2A4 tank slated for deliveries to the Kiev regime lacks reactive armor that shields against strikes by high-explosive munitions, he said.

"Any grenade launcher, any ATGW [anti-tank guided weapon] can easily hit it," he said, explaining that several Leopards operational in the Turkish army were wiped out with the help of grenade launchers when Turkey carried out its operation against Kurdish formations in Syria.

The crew of a Leopard 2 tank, like the crew of any Challenger 2, consists of four individuals due to the separate loading requirement compared to three crew members in Russian and Soviet tanks, the expert pointed out.

"The arrival of these Leopards for the Ukrainian army won’t change anything," he emphasized.

Challenger 2 and Leopard 2 tanks

According to the data posted on the UK Defense Ministry’s website, the Challenger 2 main battle tank has been in service with the British army since 1994. The vehicle is outfitted with the Dorchester Level 2 multi-layered combined armor with ceramic elements. The tank carries a 120mm rifled cannon as its basic weapon and two 7.62mm machine guns as extra armament. The tank’s 1,200 hp engine accelerates the vehicle to 59 km/h on the road and 40 km/h on cross country terrain. It has an operational on-road range of 550 km and an off-road range of 250 km on internal fuel.

The German Leopard 2 main battle tank was produced in several modifications, of which the A7+ is the latest version. Poland, which is ready to transfer these tanks to Ukraine, operates 142 Leopard 2A4 and 105 Leopard 2A5 armored vehicles. According to the manufacturer’s information and open sources, these tank modifications have a mass of about 60 metric tons, a 120mm smoothbore cannon, a 7.62mm machine gun and a 1,500 hp engine. The tank is outfitted with multi-layered combined armor, revs to a top speed of over 70 km/h and has an operational range of 450 km.