U.S. media analysis: Why is Ukraine so eager for a “leopard”?

Reference News Network reported on January 26, “We need tanks-not 10, 20, but hundreds!” Ukrainian President Zelensky’s office director shouted on social media on the 23rd. “Leopard” -2 tanks entered the Ukrainian battlefield, what does it mean to the Ukrainian army? Will it be a game changer? The Associated Press published a report on January 23 for analysis. The full text is excerpted as follows:

“A combination of firepower, protection, speed and mobility”

KraussMaffei, the manufacturer of the German “Leopard”-2 tank, said that it is “the world’s leading main battle tank”, which integrates firepower, protection, speed and mobility, and can adapt to various combat situations.

The “Leopard”-2 tank weighs 55 tons, has four crew members, has a cruising range of about 500 kilometers, and a top speed of about 68 kilometers per hour. The earliest version first entered service in 1979 and there are now several models. Its main weapon is a 120mm smoothbore gun with a fully digital fire control system.

John Mitchell, a research analyst on defense and military issues at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in the United Kingdom, said the tank could allow Ukraine to go on the offensive in the 11-month conflict. The conflict has reached a stalemate after Ukraine recaptured northeastern and southern regions held by Russian forces for months in two major counteroffensives.

He said: “In this type of conflict, it is impossible to launch a large-scale offensive without a full set of armored combat equipment and armored vehicles, and tanks are part of it.” In addition to main battle tanks, such as the “Leopard” -2 tank , other equipment also includes infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers.

He said the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks by the West to Ukraine could help equip Ukraine with the large-caliber ammunition it needs to replace its own dwindling Soviet-era stockpiles, opening up new routes for Western firepower supplies to reach Ukraine.

Ralf Latz, director of the Panzel Museum in Munster, Germany, pointed out that the Leopard 2 and its Western counterparts are more agile than the T-series tanks used by Russia. The latter, for example, cannot make a quick U-turn.

He said: “Imagine a boxer in the ring who can’t move freely, only in one direction. And another boxer who can move in all directions, he has a big advantage.’Leopard’-2 The same is true for tanks.”

Only relying on the “Leopard”-2 to play, the Ukrainian army has no chance of winning

However, Western MBTs are also vulnerable to air attack or anti-tank infantry in wooded and urban areas, Ratz said. This highlights the importance of air defense and reconnaissance support.

With similar numbers of tanks on both sides, the Leopard 2 and similar tanks could give Ukraine the upper hand, especially given Russia’s poor tactical performance in the war, he said.

“The Ukrainians excel in creative, dynamic, and often very crisp combat,” Ratz said. “So, very likely, if the Ukrainians went on the offensive, the Russians would have big trouble responding.”

However, Nicolas Masur, a researcher at the Center for Security Studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, cautioned that simply adding Leopard-2 tanks to the battlefield would not be “a game-changing or war-winning technology, or anything like that.”

“You can’t just deploy a bunch of main battle tanks and think they’re going to win. They’re very valuable, but you still need to use them in the right way, integrating them with all the other military tools at your disposal,” he said. Such as infantry, artillery, air defense forces, engineers and helicopters.