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Number and types of Leopard tanks Ukraine will receive: analyzing versions and counting battalions

17 March, 2023 Friday

The first long-awaited Leopard tanks have already arrived in Ukraine, so it's time to find out what kind of tanks they are and which countries have agreed to provide us with their main battle tanks

More than a month ago, on January 25, the German government decided to transfer 14 Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks to Ukraine, a long-awaited event that unlocked the possibility of supplying these combat vehicles from other countries. At the same time, Germany formulated a rather specific task: to find at least two Leopard 2 tank battalions for the Ukrainian Armed Forces as soon as possible. In addition, Ukraine's allies also have a lot of Leopard 1s in stock, which could be transferred to Ukraine after repair and restoration work. Read more about the German main battle tank versions and how many of these vehicles can already be counted for the Ukrainian Armed Forces in this article.

What are the versions of Leopard 2 tanks and what you need to know about them?

The German company Krauss-Maffei (now Krauss-Maffei Wegmann) began developing the Leopard 2 tank in the 1970s - the first prototype was built in 1972, and in October 1979 the German army received the first serial vehicle. Today, more than two thousand of these main battle tanks are in service with more than two dozen countries.

Since then, the vehicle has been constantly modernized and updated, and we will start with the Leopard 2A4 version, which was mass-produced from 1985 to 1992 and is currently in service with a number of countries. This tank can rightly be called modern, it has a digital fire control system and other modern components - it can be safely said that Russia managed to reach the level of the Leopard 2A4 only in the 2010s, and only in terms of certain characteristics, not in general.

Leopard 2A4, photo: gettyimages

Next up is the Leopard 2A5, the first modernized vehicles to enter service with the German army in 1995. One of the coolest updates is the new fire control system. In addition, hydraulic drives were replaced by electric ones. The tank's turret received additional armor. Finally, with this in mind, the weight of the vehicle increased by 7.5 tons - from 55 tons for the Leopard 2A4 to 62.5 tons for the Leopard 2A5.

Leopard 2A5, photo: gettyimages

In the Leopard 2A6 version (2001), the vehicle received a new elongated Rh-120 L/55 gun, which increased the speed of the shells and, accordingly, the armor penetration. At the same time, the combat weight of this tank is not very different from the previous modernization and is about 63 tons.

Leopard 2A6, photo: gettyimages

The Leopard 2A7 (the first modernized vehicle received by the German Army in 2014) received an auxiliary power plant, updated AAH and thermal imaging devices. Reinforced armor increased the weight of the tank by another 1.5 tons to 64.5 tons.

Leopard 2A7, photo: gettyimages

It is also worth mentioning the existence of the Leopard 2A7+ version, as well as the fact that a number of countries have created their own modernizations of the tank, such as the Swedish Strv 122 or the Polish Leopard 2PL.

What are the capabilities of the Leopard 1 tank?

In the context of talking about the Leopard 2's predecessor, the Leopard 1 tank, it is worth mentioning its 1A5 version if we are talking about the vehicle's use on the modern battlefield. Work on this modernization began in 1980, and the German army received its first vehicle in 1987. One of the main upgrades of the Leopard 1A5 is the new Krupp-Atlas Elektronik EMES 18 computerized fire control system, which was created on the basis of the EMES 15 system that was used to equip Leopard 2 tanks. The EMES 18 fire control system received two new sights located in the upper part of the tank's turret.

Leopard 1A5, photo: armyrecognition

The tank retained the 105-mm gun, although there was an "option" to install a newer 120-mm gun from the Leopard 2 in the turret. At the same time, the updated Leopard 1A5 received more powerful ammunition. With a sub-caliber projectile, this vehicle can break through 450-500 mm of armor at a distance of 2 km. 

How many Leopard tanks will Ukraine receive?

According to Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine expects to receive at least two battalions of Leopard 2 tanks and six to seven battalions of Leopard 1 tanks. First of all, it is worth noting that if we are talking about a tank battalion of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, it has 31 tanks in total (a tank brigade consists of three battalions and contains 93 tanks, respectively, while according to NATO standards, a tank brigade consists of 84 tanks).

So, if we count the Leopard 2 tanks that various countries have already agreed to supply us with, we can confidently say that we can already count two tank battalions according to the Armed Forces of Ukraine's standard and are even approaching a brigade. So, let's try to count all the Leopard 2s that various countries have already agreed to supply us with:

  • 21 Leopard 2A6s (18 from Germany and 3 from Portugal);
  • 10 Leopard 2A5 tanks (more precisely, Stridsvagn 122 tanks from Sweden);
  • 40 Leopard 2A4 tanks (14 from Poland, 10 from Spain, 8 from Canada and 8 from Norway).

Thus, in total, we already have 71 Leopard 2 tanks, or more than two full-fledged tank battalions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. In addition, it is worth mentioning that Poland, in addition to the 14 tanks that have already arrived in Ukraine, has agreed to supply 16 more in the long term, bringing the number of Leopard 2s to Ukraine to 87 units - the Ukrainian Armed Forces tank brigade is short six vehicles.

As for the Leopard 1 tanks (six or seven battalions, as Reznikov said, or 186 to 217 vehicles), we currently have the following information: the German government has previously approved the supply of 187 Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine, which is enough for six battalions or two tank brigades.

Oleksiy Levkov, Defense Express - exclusively for Espreso.

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