Ukraine shouldn’t repair Leopard tanks as it damages them – Germany

Germany warns that Ukraine’s problems with the Leopard 2 tanks delivered from Berlin to Kyiv continue. It is about those tanks that are not on the battlefield, but in the repair shops.

Lack of spare parts, or quality spare parts, as well as repairs carried out by the Ukrainians, delay the repair of battle-damaged tanks, or double the time previously estimated for a given repair. This is what the butler of the Green Party, Sebastian Schäfer, was quoted by several German media.

Berlin sent 18 Leopard 2 tanks to Kiev. At the end of the year, according to Schaefer, very few of these tanks can be used. As it becomes clear, not only a shortage of spare parts is the problem in repairs. The fact that the Ukrainian mechanics are trying to repair the Leopard 2 caused more damage, which either delays the repair twice as much or does not lead to the repair of the tank at all.

Ukraine shouldn't repair Leopard tanks as it damages them - Germany
Photo credit: Reuters / Kuba Stezycki

This was intended but not heard

In fact, such a thing was expected. Already in 2023, when the so-called “tank coalition” amid the fanfare and cheers, there were some experts who warned that this problem would arise. They warned that there was a shortage of spare parts.

Also, “the daredevils in their commentary” then allowed themselves to suggest that a possible Ukrainian intervention in the repair activities would be bad for Ukrainian military actions. The reasons are several, but the most important: the tank coalition has never found a way to produce and supply spare parts to this day, and Ukrainian mechanics have mostly worked on Soviet systems in their lifetime, not Western ones.

Ukraine shouldn't repair Leopard tanks as it damages them - Germany
Photo by Andriy Andriyenko / AP

Where is the problem?

It should be noted that the lack of spare parts is the more common problem compared to the Ukrainian attempts to renovate the tanks. However, a swift examination of the Leopard 2 repair facility in Lithuania provides deeper insight – battle-inflicted damage is not the only concern, substantial mechanical degradation due to operational use and combat firing is a prevalent challenge to tackle.

Of course repair time is also an issue that was considered before the donation of the western tanks, but again ignored. Already in 2023, it became clear that it was impossible to repair the tanks in Ukraine, because of the war. Their transportation to the nearest repair shops in Ukraine takes time.

Ukraine shouldn't repair Leopard tanks as it damages them - Germany
Photo credit: Twitter

Apparently, the Ukrainians have decided to solve this problem by undertaking a makeshift repair near the battle line. This will save them a lot of time, but as it turns out, their repair doesn’t fix the tank, it damages it even more.

Will there be training?

In Germany, they noticed this problem [the Ukrainian repair]. In fact, the question is why now, when he was known long before the first Leopard 2 set foot on Ukrainian soil.

Let’s recall – Ukraine operated only with Soviet equipment. Any replacement of it is possible, but requires a lot of time to go through the compliance processes. Ukraine does not have that time. Take the F-16 as an example – at the moment, first language training for the pilots is conducted, then familiarization with the aircraft and dry training on the ground, and only then the first test flights in the air.

“Clearly, there’s an issue about occasional attempts by the Ukrainian army to maintain their tanks, which ironically result in additional harm to the main battle tanks. An in-depth analysis is necessary to ascertain how this can be averted, either through enhancing mechanic training or furnishing comprehensive instructions,” commented Schaefer.

Confessions

In recent times, Lithuania has established itself as a trusted political and military associate of Germany. However, Poland and Slovakia have encountered some challenges with projects aimed at repairing weapon systems for Ukraine. The process of conducting repairs in the Baltic states also involves an extensive transport route through Poland. 

Green politician, Schaefer, asserts that assistance to Ukraine should not be scaled down, but rather, there should be readiness for increasing the aid. He shared with DPA that the situation in Ukraine is extremely challenging. He also expressed concerns about potential cutbacks in support from the United States. Regrettably, Germany only appears to be the leading supporter after the US in name. When evaluated on economic productivity, Germany is underperforming significantly. 

According to Schaefer, this situation must transform. Also, he highlighted the need for the potential delivery of Bundeswehr’s long-range Taurus cruise missiles. This strategy is pivotal to fortify Ukraine’s position against Putin’s forces.

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