Ukraine lost five Leopard 2A1 tanks in a week, Russia claims

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The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation announced that in the period from May 11 to 17, the Armed Forces of Ukraine [AFU] lost five German-made Leopard 2A1 tanks. Over the same period, the Russian Ministry says Ukraine lost an additional 13 armored fighting vehicles, 55 vehicles, a Grad MLRS combat vehicle, and 47 field artillery guns, 22 of which were foreign-made. 

Photo credit: Reddit

Within a week, the Russian military also reported that missile forces, artillery, and military group UAVs destroyed four Mi-24 helicopters at the helipad, as well as 40 unmanned boats at the storage warehouse. 

Of the Western-supplied tanks, which also include the American Abrams and Challenger, Ukraine uses the German-made Leopard tanks the most. This is because Kyiv’s partners delivered the most Leopard tanks. Open sources state that over 100 Leopard version 2 tanks have been delivered to Ukraine. According to other sources, a total of 200 Leopard tanks are expected to be delivered, but version 1.

Photo credit: X

In mid-August last year, Ukraine operated only 71 Leopard 2 tanks. At that time, the Armed Forces of Ukraine launched a counteroffensive against Russian units in the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories along much of the length of the front line. However, it failed. According to Western analysts, as of August 28, the Ukrainian army also lost five tanks, but over a much longer period—13 weeks. At least 10 Leopard 2 tanks were damaged, the sources said. 

The Russian Ministry of Defense did not say whether the crews of the five tanks destroyed in the period May 11-17 [20 people] survived or were killed. But Ukrainian tank crews are better protected in German tanks than in Soviet ones. The reason is the tank’s ammunition storage space.

Arguably the most crucial feature of the Leopard 2’s durability is its specialized turret-mounted compartments for 120mm ammunition. These compartments are designed by German manufacturers KMW and Rheinmetall to direct explosions outward, away from the crew. 

Photo credit: Twitter

On the other hand, Russian tanks store their ammunition beneath their turrets. Once depleted, these compartments can cause the turret—and the three crew members—to be violently ejected. This structural difference makes it significantly easier to damage and unsettle the crew of a Russian tank than to destroy the tank and endanger their lives. In contrast, a direct hit on a Russian T-72 can result in the catastrophic destruction of both the tank and its crew.

The Leopard 2 is a main battle tank developed by Krauss-Maffei in the 1970s for the West German Army. It has since been adopted by various countries and is renowned for its advanced technology and robust performance in combat scenarios. 

The dimensions of the Leopard 2 tank are substantial. It measures approximately 10 meters in length [including the gun], 3.75 meters in width, and 3 meters in height. These dimensions contribute to its imposing presence on the battlefield. 

Photo by Andriy Andriyenko / AP

The Leopard 2 is characterized by its advanced armor protection, which includes composite armor and modular add-on armor packages. This provides enhanced protection against various types of threats, including kinetic energy penetrators and shaped charges. 

Propulsion for the Leopard 2 is provided by an MTU MB 873 Ka-501 liquid-cooled V12 twin-turbo diesel engine. This engine generates 1,500 horsepower, allowing the tank to reach speeds of up to 68 km/h on roads and 31 km/h off-road.

The fire control system of the Leopard 2 is state-of-the-art. It includes the EMES 15 computerized fire control system, which features a laser rangefinder, a thermal imaging system, and a ballistic computer. This system enables the tank to engage targets with high accuracy, even while on the move. 

Photo credit: Reddit

The Leopard 2 is equipped with a variety of advanced systems and components. These include a PERI-R17 panoramic periscope for the commander, a gunner’s primary sight, and a driver’s night vision system. Additionally, it has an NBC [nuclear, biological, chemical] protection system and an automatic fire suppression system. 

The main armament of the Leopard 2 is the Rheinmetall 120 mm smoothbore gun. This gun is capable of firing a variety of ammunition types, making it highly versatile in combat situations.

The types of shells used by the Leopard 2’s main gun include armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot [APFSDS] rounds, high-explosive anti-tank [HEAT] rounds, and high-explosive squash head [HESH] rounds. Each type of shell is designed for specific combat scenarios, enhancing the tank’s effectiveness against different targets. 

Photo by Krister Sørbø

The operational combat range of the shells fired by the Leopard 2’s main gun varies. APFSDS rounds can effectively engage targets at ranges up to 4,000 meters, while HEAT rounds are effective at ranges up to 2,500 meters. The versatility of shell types and ranges allows the Leopard 2 to adapt to a wide range of combat situations.

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

On February 21, 2022, Russia stated that its border facility was attacked by Ukrainian forces, resulting in the deaths of five Ukrainian fighters. However, Ukraine quickly dismissed these allegations, labeling them as ‘false flags’.

Photo credit: Twitter

In a notable move on the same day, Russia announced it officially recognized the self-proclaimed areas of DPR and LPR. Interestingly, according to Russian President Putin, this recognition covered all the Ukrainian regions. Following this declaration, Putin sent a battalion of Russia’s military forces, tanks included, into these areas.

Fast forward to February 24, 2022, global headlines were dominated by a significant incident. Putin commanded a forceful military assault on Ukraine. Led by Russia’s impressive Armed Forces positioned at the Ukrainian border, this assault wasn’t spontaneous but a premeditated action. Despite the circumstances resembling a war, the Russian government refrains from using this term. They’d rather refer to it as a “special military operation”.

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