Germany Okays A Dozen Polish Tanks For Ukraine. hundreds extra may comply with. - Forbes

A Polish army Leopard 2.

Wikimedia Commons

In a vital reversal, the German government this weekend signaled it wouldn't try to stop the government of Poland from offering German-built Leopard 2 tanks to the Ukrainian military.

The go-ahead for a Leopard 2 switch, uttered on French television by German overseas minister Annalena Baerbock, might liberate different NATO international locations to donate their personal surplus Leopard 2s. There are tons of of the powerful tanks in storage throughout Europe.

however Poland could go it on my own and still fulfill Ukraine's request for an entire brigade with at least one hundred Leopard 2 tanks. That's as a result of, in the meanwhile, Poland is without doubt one of the world's appropriate patrons of latest tanks.

With more than a thousand of the latest American and South Korean tanks scheduled to arrive in Poland over the subsequent decade, the roughly 250 Leopard 2s within the Polish army's stock soon may still be extra to want. Poland might beginning giving them away right now and suffer, at worst, a fleeting potential hole.

The Ukrainian military has wanted Leopard 2s for the superior part of a year, however Ukraine's overseas allies prioritized presenting the Ukrainians first with artillery and air-defenses, then with armored personnel carriers and infantry combating automobiles.

Germany holds the export license for the Leopard 2, and the nation's reluctance to supply explicitly offensive weaponry to Ukraine turned into a drawback to a big effort by means of NATO to re-equip the Ukrainian military's 4 tank brigades and dozens of tank battalions.

the UK and Poland challenged Germany's recalcitrance past this month, when both countries respectively provided Ukraine round a dozen each of their Challenger 2 and Leopard 2 tanks.

The Challenger 2 is made in the united kingdom, so its export license isn't a problem. however there are best around 400 Challenger 2s in existence—and a hundred and fifty of them belong to the British army's depleted tank regiments.

If Ukraine had been to begin re-arming its tank corps, realistically it will want Leopard 2s. Finland, Spain, Denmark and The Netherlands even have signaled their willingness to donate surplus Leopard 2s to Ukraine. lots of the equal nations possibly would offer up ammunition, spare ingredients and technical and practising assistance so as to form and preserve a Ukrainian Leopard 2 brigade.

A U.S. army M-1A2 tank.

U.S. army

as a consequence Poland's January present represented a turning element. The Leopard 2 with its one hundred twenty-millimeter gun, thick armor and forty five-mile-per-hour true velocity is among the most efficient and most balanced tanks on earth. A Ukrainian brigade geared up with Leopard 2s and NATO-trend fighting motors and artillery may still be greater than a suit for even the most beneficial Russian tank brigade—and could spearhead a clean Ukrainian counteroffensive in 2023.

And now it's all but certain that, in coming months, the Ukrainian military will be capable of arise its Leopard 2 brigade. even though every different skills Leopard 2 donor anyway Poland finally ends up demuring.

Poland already has pledged a dozen or so Leopard 2s to Ukraine and easily could pledge one more hundred—or extra. And the donations barely would make a dent in the Polish military's tank holdings over the medium term.

Two years in the past the Polish armor corps, which offers tanks and crews to four tank brigades and six mechanized brigades, possessed round 250 Leopard 2s in several variations as well as 230 or so in the neighborhood-made PT-91 tanks and some 320 ex-Soviet T-72s. The PT-ninety one itself is an upgraded T-72.

That's 800 tanks. As Russia grew extra aggressive in the years main as much as its wider invasion of Ukraine starting ultimate February, Poland launched probably the most intensive tank-acquisition efforts in modern heritage.

First, it all started updating its Leopard 2s. Then it dropped a excellent $four.7 billion on 250 of the newest American M-1A2 SEPv3 tanks, with enormous-scale deliveries commencing in early 2025.

finally, late ultimate yr, Polish officials went on a searching spree in South Korea, the place native trade produces a tank referred to as the ok-2 that's extensively considered the equal of the Leopard 2 and M-1.

South Korean military okay-2 tanks.

Wikimedia Commons

The Poles paid $5.eight billion for a thousand k-2s plus some of South Korea's one of the best k-9 howitzers and FA-50 mild fighter jets. the primary one hundred eighty okay-2s will come from South Korean factories; Polish plants will build the other 820 starting in 2026.

"We simply took our suitcases with cash and [are] going like Hell worldwide and making an attempt to buy," Gen. Rajmund Andrzejczak, chief of group of workers of the Polish militia, advised Breaking protection. "We know the strategic purpose is [to] help Ukraine."

The big tank buys have freed up the Polish military to begin donating its older tanks. T-72s went to Ukraine first, back in the spring. PT-91s followed over the summer season. The Leopard 2 pledge boosted to round 275 the number of Polish tanks destined for Ukrainian carrier.

but with 1,250 of the area's most recent tanks on their approach to Poland from the united states and South Korea—that's 450 extra tanks than Poland had just two years in the past—all of Poland's last older tanks arguably are on the verge of being redundant. That's 240 or so Leopard 2s and round 280 PT-91s and T-72s.

the first few M-1A2s and ok-2s already are in Poland, helping Polish crews educate on the new tanks. tons of greater will arrive over the following couple of years, with an incredible raise in deliveries as soon as Poland's ok-2 assembly line stands up in 2026.

Poland over the next couple of years could birth giving away all of its older tanks—a hundred right here, 100 there—and suffer only a moderate and brief dip in its universal armor stock. Even with out its older Leopard 2s and Soviet-trend tanks, through the end of the last decade the Polish army could have one of the greatest and top-quality tank forces in Europe.

All that's to assert, Germany hasn't simply given Poland permission to send a dozen Leopard 2s to Ukraine. it may possibly have signed off on a Polish-led, NATO effort that ultimately could send tons of of tanks to Ukraine.

The simplest query is how many of the tanks will come from Poland.

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