Ukraine Has Misplaced Half Of Its Distinctive Leopard 2R Breaching Automobiles

Ukraine Has Lost Half Of Its Unique Leopard 2R Breaching Vehicles

The engineer battalions of the thirty third Mechanized and forty seventh Assault Brigades, the lead formations in Ukraine’s 2023 counteroffensive, suffered heavy gear losses of their assault simply south of Mala Tokmachka final week.

The losses embrace at the very least 5 of the battalions’ specialised engineering automobiles. Fitted with mineplows and minerollers, these automobiles lead tanks and infantry combating automobiles via minefields, plowing and rolling a path so the tanks and IFVs can break via enemy defenses.

That the engineers misplaced so many automobiles on or round Thursday doesn’t imply the assault on Russian positions close to Mala Tokmachka has failed. But. A frontal assault on enemy fortifications—a “breach”—is among the many most tough and doubtlessly costliest operations in floor warfare.

Even the best-equipped, best-trained armies anticipate to lose as a lot as half of the assault drive throughout a profitable breach. Because it occurs, the Ukrainian forty seventh Assault Brigade in only a week of laborious combating has deserted three of its six greatest breaching automobiles—its Finnish-made Leopard 2Rs. Different confirmed Ukrainian losses embrace a Soviet-style IMR-2 engineering automobile and an ex-German Bergepanzer.

The Leopard 2R is a 69-ton, diesel-powered Leopard 2A4 tank that Finnish agency Patria remodeled right into a specialised breaching automobile.

Patria popped off the tanks’ turrets and fitted their hulls with full-width mineplows manufactured by Pearson in the UK. The three-person Leopard 2R places its 1,500 horsepower behind the plow and pushes. The churn ought to safely detonate any mines and clear a path all the way in which to the trenches and berms that armies have a tendency to construct behind minefields.

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Maintaining its momentum, a Leopard 2R that has simply cleared a minefield can shove filth into the trenches, cross over the ensuing earthen bridge then push proper via the adjoining berms. Voila—the fortification is breached, and tanks and infantry can rush via.

The Leopard 2R is the Finnish equal of the U.S. Military’s Assault Breacher, arguably the world’s greatest breaching automobile. However the Finns had been sad with the Leopard 2R. Finnish soil reportedly is just too rocky for the automobile’s mineplow, even with 1,500 horsepower behind it.

So Helsinki didn’t hesitate to provide to Kyiv all six of its Leopard 2Rs. The Finns and Ukrainians clearly hoped Ukraine’s soil can be much less problematic for the breaching automobiles.

The filth doesn’t appear to be the primary purpose the forty seventh Brigade misplaced at the very least three of its Leopard 2Rs, presumably throughout a single assault throughout a Russian minefield south of Mala Tokmachka on Thursday morning. The mines clearly had been extraordinarily dense.

The Russian air drive furthermore has management of the air over the southern entrance line and has been capable of fly back-to-back sorties with assault helicopters and fighter-bombers—a vital benefit that Ukraine’s ground-based air-defenses haven’t been capable of blunt.

Whereas it is likely to be disturbing for advocates of a free Ukraine to look at as Ukrainian brigades lose a lot of their greatest and rarest gear, it shouldn’t be shocking. Breaching a minefield is difficult even once you’re not beneath relentless air assault.

However a breach is a prerequisite to an armored breakthrough. Ukraine stood up 9 new brigades with American and European gear and assigned all of them to the 2023 counteroffensive. To this point simply three—the thirty third Mechanized Brigade, forty seventh Assault Brigade and thirty seventh Marine Brigade—have joined the combat.

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The six different new brigades—together with models with ex-Polish PT-91 tanks, ex-British Challenger 2 tanks and ex-American Stryker IFVs—apparently are ready for the lead brigades to open gaps in Russian traces. At which level they’ll assault and exploit the gaps.

The sector south of Mala Tokmachka is particularly essential for Ukrainian technique. Mala Tokmachka anchors the entrance line in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, 20 miles north of the strategic city of Tokmak, which itself lies astride the primary hall to Russian-occupied Melitopol on the Sea of Azov.

If Ukrainian forces can punch via the minefields south of Mala Tokmachka and make a run at Tokmak after which Melitopol, they’ve an opportunity to sever the Russian drive in Ukraine in two.

All that’s to say, the destroyed or broken Leopard 2 tanks, M-2 IFVs and Leopard 2R, IMR-2 and Bergepanzer engineering automobiles the thirty third and forty seventh Brigades deserted close to Mala Tokmachka final week are the unlucky however most likely unavoidable price of essentially the most tough section of a mandatory operation.

Given the paucity of stories from the entrance, it’s potential however maybe unlikely the Ukrainians have already got discovered a method via or across the Mala Tokmachka minefields. If not, anticipate them to attempt once more to advance towards Tokmak—both instantly alongside the T0408 highway or not directly from the east or west.

And don’t anticipate the lack of many, or all, of the uncommon Leopard 2Rs to cease the Ukrainian assault. Ukraine’s allies have pledged scores of specialised engineering automobiles to the conflict effort, every with the flexibility to mount a mineplow and try a breach.

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The Leopard 2Rs may go extinct quickly. However there are many IMR-2s, Bergenpanzers, M-88s and NM189s to exchange them.

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