TechUkraine's tank dilemma: Repair part shortages hinder recovery of damaged Leopard 2s

Ukraine's tank dilemma: Repair part shortages hinder recovery of damaged Leopard 2s

Leopard 2 - conceptual image
Leopard 2 - conceptual image
Images source: © Getty Images | Libkos

10:59 AM EST, January 23, 2024

Over the past year, the Ukrainian army is reported to have lost at least 12 of the more than 70 Leopard 2 German tanks they had received. This loss, however painful, is not the only issue Kyiv faces. The major problem, the report highlights, stems from the fact that in the heat of the battles, "many more Leopard 2s were damaged than destroyed" - it is explained. Ukraine struggles significantly with repairing these machines and getting them back into service.

David Axe of Forbes underscores that Leopard 2s are not easily destroyed. Contrarily, they are resilient vehicles, weighing around 154,324 pounds, that can be repaired and returned to the front after each hit. He refers to the Leopard 2 as a "renewable resource".

The challenge, however, lies in the speed at which engineers can refurbish these damaged tanks. The availability of spare parts primarily influences the rate at which this is possible. The acquisition of these parts for Ukrainian Leopards presents considerable difficulty.

Theoretically, Ukrainians would have 59 Leopard 2s available after eliminating the destroyed tanks. However, in reality, this number significantly shrinks. In January 2024, Germany's NTV station visited a platoon of Leopard 2A6s and found that only one of the four tanks was combat-ready, demonstrating the considerable issues in the army.

The delivery of Leopards repaired in Poland and Lithuania to Ukrainians is often delayed due to the repair center's shortage of spare parts – as stated in the report. The scarcity of service parts is so dire that Ukrainians repair their tanks by disassembling parts from the more severely damaged Leopards. This only adds to the problems of service centers, as parts from the most damaged machines are used in damaged tanks. Forbes suggests that the solution to this problem could be providing Ukrainians with service parts on the front line.

As a reminder, the Leopard 2 tanks, particularly in their latest A6 version, are machines that came into production at the beginning of the 21st century. These are technologically superior to all tanks used by the Russians. The Leopard 2A6 features an improved gun compared to its predecessor, optimized for APFSDS-T DM53A1 projectiles that guarantee increased armor penetration.

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