The Weight of NATO Tanks Could Pose a Downside in Ukraine

The heavier weight of primary battle tanks equipped to Ukraine by NATO members may pose points for the way Ukraine can use them, specialists have advised Newsweek.

In current weeks, Kyiv’s Western backers have introduced that they’re prepared to produce Ukraine’s military with refined primary battle tanks.

On January 25, President Biden introduced that the U.S. would ship 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. Calling the M1 Abrams the “most succesful tanks on this planet,” Biden stated the U.S. would offer sufficient to equip a Ukrainian tank battalion.

Kyiv’s forces must “counter Russia’s evolving ways and technique on the battlefield within the very close to time period,” Biden stated.

An M-1A1 Abrams tank is seen on the Fort Irwin Military Nationwide Coaching Middle in Fort Irwin, California. The Abrams weigh considerably greater than the Soviet-era tanks Ukraine has been utilizing for the reason that outbreak of the warfare.
Mike Nelson/AFP through Getty Photographs

The promise to produce the Abrams got here within the wake of Berlin’s pledging of 14 Leopard 2A6 tanks to Ukraine. Berlin additionally gave different nations permission to re-export German-manufactured Leopard tanks to Kyiv.

On Friday, Germany additionally permitted an export license for the older Leopard 1 tanks.

The U.Okay. had beforehand promised deliveries of their Challenger 2 primary battle tanks. President Zelensky welcomed the transfer, saying on January 14 that the extra assist “won’t solely strengthen us on the battlefield, but in addition ship the best sign to different companions.”

The brand new tanks are all extra fashionable than the primary battle tanks Kyiv has been utilizing for the reason that warfare started, together with the Soviet-era T-72. Ukraine had beforehand acquired T-72s from a number of nations and in November, the White Home dedicated to financing the refurbishing of 45 T-72B tanks with superior capabilities through the Czech Republic.

However the T-72, which is essentially the most broadly used primary battle tank on this planet, weighs in at about 45 tons, as does the later mannequin T-80. An M1A1 can weigh between 67 and almost 74 tons, in line with the U.S. Military.

“This impacts what bridges a car can safely use, which in flip impacts the place it’s deployed and the way simply it could possibly maneuver on the battlefield,” army and protection skilled Michael Peck advised Newsweek.

Soviet-era bridges have been designed to bear the burden of the tanks of the time and the area, former army officer Frank Ledwidge advised Newsweek.

“Many Ukrainian bridges might not be appropriate” for the far heavier Western primary battle tanks now destined for Ukraine’s entrance strains, he stated.

Bridging tools utilized by the Ukrainian army will even be designed with Soviet-era tanks in thoughts, not Abrams, Challengers or Leopards, he added.

Corresponding bridging tools will probably be offered by Western allies, Ledwidge steered, however Russian army intelligence might nonetheless profit from Ukrainian logistical selections that eradicate unsuitable bridges.

These concerns will “confine” the Ukrainian army, Ledwidge argued, however Ukraine’s army commanders “will probably be very conscious of this, and can discover methods of deploying the tanks to reap the benefits of their capabilities.”

Again in February 2020, the army outlet Breaking Protection wrote that whereas Western European infrastructure “was typically strengthened throughout the Chilly Warfare to deal with the burden of 60-plus-ton NATO tanks, Jap Europe could not afford to construct as robustly and, in any case, solely needed to accommodate a lot lighter Soviet tanks, just like the 45-ton T-72.”