Posted 12 января 08:55

Published 12 января 08:55

Modified 12 января 09:53

Updated 12 января 09:53

By personal example: how London persuades the West to provide Kiev with tanks

12 января 2023, 08:55
The main task of the day for the UK and its allies in Eastern Europe is to transfer arms supplies to Ukraine to the next level – to provide Kiev with Western-made main battle tanks.

Alexander Sychev

The attempt to encourage its allies to take a decisive step, which the British government intends to take, is evidenced by an organized leak of information about thoughts and consultations with Kiev about sending 10 British Challenger II tanks ("Challenging").

The representative of the government did not confirm, but did not deny this message, thereby further thickening the paint.

Western tanks are approaching Ukraine

Talks about the need to send heavy tanks to Ukraine have been going on for a long time.

Poland regularly raises this topic, Finland recently joined it, declaring its readiness to send German Leopard-2 tanks, but immediately played back: we will put it if everyone does the same. And France was even the first to decide to share its AMX-10RC light wheeled tanks. Paris has tried, as it were, to blur the conventional line of what is permissible, through which the West has not yet decided to cross.

This line, beyond which one can find oneself involved in a military conflict by one's own armed forces, does not seem to be very felt in the West. They are constantly probing the limits of what is permissible, all the time increasing the level of lethality of the supplied weapons. Almost all types of weapons have already been in the hands of the Ukrainian military, and no one has been involved in the war.

In the unfolding discussion around tanks, a number of smaller interests than the defeat of Russia are also visible. To begin with, at least, the resource of Soviet-made tanks has not been exhausted, which you can not get rid of for free in Ukraine. The Czech company Excalibur Army, for example, has almost completed the modernization of 90 Soviet-made T-72B tanks and is ready to remake another 45.

On the other hand, the conflict is dragging on, so it is desirable to send tanks, but German Leopard is better. Germany is still resisting, not agreeing to send its main battle tanks. Without her consent, other Leopard owners have no right to transfer cars to a third party.

The pressure on Berlin is so strong that recently the official German position changed rapidly in one day from "we will not send" to "we will definitely send" and back with a short stop on "as the team decides".

Apparently, the sponsors of the Ukrainian army will decide on January 20, at the next meeting of the Contact Group on Ukraine. "London's decision will be a good precedent for demonstrating to others, first of all, Germany with its Leopard and American Abrams", Sky News quoted an anonymous source as saying about the secret thoughts of the British government. – Strategically, this is a very firm signal to Moscow that nothing is excluded. The appearance of Western tanks on the battlefield may tip the scales in favor of Ukraine".

Armor with almost no weak points

How exactly does London intend to do this?

The main Challenger II battle tank, which has been serving since 1998. Their release was completed in 2009. Then the factory gates of BAE Systems, near Newcastle, closed behind the last "Challenging". A total of 446 machines were produced, of which 206 remained operational by 2020. In 2021, some of them began to be upgraded at a cost of 800 million pounds. If this happens, non-modernized tanks will be sent to Ukraine.

Challenger II is one of the heaviest Western tanks. Its weight reaches 75 tons mainly due to the multi-layered Dorchester combined armor. Information about her is strictly classified. In addition to this armor, ROMOR dynamic protection modules, lattice welded screens and a number of other devices are installed. The use of these tanks in Iraq has shown that the armor protection is reliable, although there is a weak point in it – the lower frontal part. There is steel there with a thickness of only about 90 millimeters. However, it is extremely difficult to get into it.

The tank is armed with a 120-millimeter rifled cannon. The channel of its barrel is chrome-plated, and the outside of the gun is covered with a thermal insulation casing. The gun is stabilized in two planes, and aiming at the target is carried out by an electric drive.

The ammunition is 52 rounds. The shells are stored in armored containers surrounded by a "jacket" with a special liquid. This reduces the likelihood of ignition and detonation of ammunition. But the propellant charges are located below, in the tank body. Loading of two elements of ammunition is carried out in the old-fashioned way – manually.

The effective firing range of the HESH armor-piercing high-explosive projectile reaches eight kilometers. It is noteworthy that the Challenger II can hit the target at such a distance, but stopping. In Iraq, a case was recorded when a T-55 tank was shot down from a distance of five kilometers.

But in general, the accuracy of the gun can hardly be called flawless. In 2002, the Greeks arranged a tender for the purchase of tanks and conducted comparative firing of the German Leopard 2A5, the American M1A2 Abrams, the French AMX-56 Leclerc and Challenger II. From the "standing" position, the British tank shot back the best of all, and in motion – worse. In addition, the gun is characterized by increased wear.

The fire control system is American, digital. At the disposal of the gunner and commander are two thermal imagers and a sight taken from the French Leclerc tank.

In addition to the chrome cannon, the tank is armed with a 7.62 mm machine gun, which is mounted to the left of the cannon, and there is also a remotely controlled machine gun of the same caliber near the commander's hatch on the turret. It is used mainly for air defense. The ammunition of machine guns is four thousand rounds.

On both sides of the tower there are five rechargeable smoke grenades, but there is also a device for setting up a curtain by injecting diesel fuel into the exhaust system of the tank.

The British changed the twelve-cylinder Perkins engine to a more economical German diesel engine with a capacity of 1,500 horsepower. The speed of movement on the highway reaches 60 kilometers per hour, and on rough terrain – 40. The maximum power reserve is 400 kilometers.

The tank does not belong to the best representatives of heavy armored vehicles. Even the British ground forces were reluctant to acquire it. But he has an undoubted advantage – armor, and accuracy of shooting when he is motionless. However, in London he is not given the task of effectively fighting. The determination of the British government should push the West to take the next step – to start supplying German, French and, finally, American tanks.