After losing multiple Leopard-2 tanks in the counter-offensive launched against Russia, Ukraine wants to get more German-made tanks to aid the country’s military operations.
Ukraine’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, Andrii Melnyk, requested more Leopard-2 tanks on top of what has already been delivered to the Ukrainian military.
Months after its long-drawn campaign for Leopard-2 tanks that finally made Berlin cave in and pledge its cutting-edge Leopard-2A6 tanks to Ukraine, Kyiv is requesting further support.
Ukraine has received 18 Leopard-2 tanks of the A6 variant from Germany.
Melnyk said emphatically that the Ukrainian army urgently needed more Western tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and other armored vehicles.
“Each Leopard 2 is worth its weight in gold for a decisive offensive,” added the former ambassador of Ukraine in Berlin.
Making a case for additional tanks, Melnyk said he believed that the Bundeswehr’s 300+ piece stockpile allows it to provide more than the 18 previously delivered pieces. The present figure may be “tripled without jeopardizing Germany’s ability to defend itself.”
Melnyk’s demand was backed by CDU security politician Roderich Kiesewetter who said, “Allies should immediately replace all destroyed equipment, including Leopard battle tanks and armored personnel carriers, and deliver additional equipment.”
According to some unverified reports doing rounds on social media, Ukraine has allegedly lost about 20-30% of its Leopard-2 tanks across different variants. EurAsian Times reported on the first loss last week, noting that a Leopard 2 tank was destroyed on June 7 during a Ukrainian assault near Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
— ?? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) June 8, 2023
However, as per videos constantly surfacing on social media, several Leopard-2s have perished since the counter-offensive began. On June 9, German media company BILD said Ukraine lost at least 2 Leopard-2 MBTs and 13 Bradley IFVs.
On June 10, a video that depicted a Russian Lancet loitering munition hitting a Leopard-2 tank of the AFU went viral on Twitter, with Russian military bloggers celebrating the tank kill.
A user wrote, “These tanks burn like everything else.”
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) June 10, 2023
Military experts have noted that the Ukrainian army lost Bradley combat vehicles and Leopard 2 tanks in unsuccessful attempts to break through Russian defenses in the southern Ukraine region.
According to Forbes, the Leopard 2s and M-2s lost by the 33rd and 47th brigades represent 10% of their respective strengths. These two brigades were one of the many reconstituted for launching the counter-offensive.
Although Ukraine has not officially confirmed the number of Leopard-2 tanks lost on the battlefield, there is an urgent need to replenish the stock for the offensive not to lose momentum.
Besides the Leopard-2 tanks, Ukraine also wants more Patriot missile defense systems. And there is a final indication that it might get them.
Raytheon Promises More Patriots To Ukraine
The manufacturer of the formidable Patriot air defense systems, Raytheon Technologies, is boosting production and has committed to providing Ukraine with five additional systems by the end of 2024, Wall Street Journal reported on June 11.
The manufacturer further stated that as their performance in Ukraine exceeds estimates, the production pace should increase to 12 systems per year. According to Raytheon’s Chief Executive Greg Hayes, the Patriots and other air defense systems used by Kyiv could intercept about 90% of incoming Russian assaults on Ukraine.
In fact, according to Hayes, Ukraine had tweaked the software of the Patriot missile defense system to enable it to track and shoot down Russia’s hypersonic missiles, flying twice at the speed it is designed for.
The Patriots outdid their previously stated capacity when they intercepted Russian hypersonic Kinzhal missiles, which had been projected as “invincible” by Russia. The cutting-edge capability of this defense system is such that Moscow’s missiles have reportedly been aimed at obliterating the system, but with little success.
Earlier this month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine needed at least 50 Patriot air defense systems since they are the only ones that can thwart some of Russia’s most advanced missile attacks.
Zelenskyy expressed gratitude to Western nations for providing weapon equipment, but he suggested that supplies be made more quickly and in larger quantities.
He emphasized that Ukraine needs more Patriot missile batteries to protect its towns and front-line troops. President Zelenskyy also demanded the formation of a Patriot alliance on June 1 after arriving at the European Political Community summit in Moldova. The Netherlands backed the idea.
It was first in December 2022 that the United States unveiled a $1.85 billion security assistance deal for Ukraine, which included a Patriot air defense system. The delivery was made sometime in April this year. Following suit, Germany and the Netherlands also delivered their Patriots to Ukraine.
With Russia relentlessly unleashing a barrage of cruise and ballistic missiles, its combat UAVs, and loitering munitions on Ukraine, the need for more air defense has become more urgent.
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