Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Ukraine War: German Leopard-2 Tanks For Ukrainian Army Are Combat Ready But Puma IFVs Flounder – Reports

A key military drill conducted by the German Bundeswehr has revealed that the Puma Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) has successively lost its combat readiness. In contrast, the Leopard-2 tanks, reportedly being considered for transfer to Ukraine, demonstrated very high combat capability.

German Army [Bundeswehr] forces conducted important ground drills in Münster, Lower Saxony. The exercises saw participation by two divisions – one with Leopard 2 Main Battle tanks (MBTs) and the other with Puma infantry fighting vehicles (IFV), German publication Der Spiegel reported.

The publication cited a letter written by the Commander of the 10th armored brigade Major General Ruprecht von Butler, to the German Army, expressing his concern about the performance of Puma IFVs.

The General noted that 18 of the 20 Pumas had 0% combat readiness on the eighth day of the drill. In addition, the last two vehicles also displayed significant turret issues on the day field firings were scheduled.

Schützenpanzer Puma der Bundeswehr (49919110048).jpg
Puma Infantry Fighting Vehicle- Wikipedia

The vehicles are slated to participate in NATO’s leading Very High Readiness Joint Task Force next year, which has rattled the Defense Ministry.

Although troops were aware of the Puma’s reputation for unreliability, Von Butler stated in his letter to the Defense Ministry that such technical issues had “never occurred with such frequency,” as shown in the recent test.

Not just that, one tank in the most recent round of mishaps had even experienced a cable fire in the driver’s compartment. Germany boasts a fleet of 350 Puma IFVs and has obtained finance for 229 more in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

According to the report, the General asked the German Defense Ministry to replace the Pumas assigned to the task force with the more seasoned but effective Marder infantry fighting vehicle “until further notice.”

However, the tank that the Ukrainians have set their eyes on, i.e., the Leopard-2 MBT, showed excellent performance. The General wrote that the Leopard-2 tanks were well-prepared for battle.

During the drills, the tanks reached a combat readiness level of 80 to 90 percent. The General noted there had been issues, but service teams work at night to address them.

Ukraine Wants German Tanks To Fight Russia

As it attempts to retake territory in the nation’s south and east, Ukraine has numerous times called for modern battle tanks. Berlin has thus far turned down these demands, claiming that no other ally has yet supplied battle tanks produced in the West.

German Army Leopard

Germany has delivered Ukraine 30 decommissioned Gepard anti-aircraft tanks, 10 Panzerhaubitze 2000 howitzers, and three MARS multiple rocket launchers since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Berlin has also participated in arms deals with non-NATO nations. For instance, Germany sent the first six of 40 Marders to Greece, after which Greece sent additional tanks to Ukraine.

Recently, officials in Ukraine have intensified the pitch for Germany’s Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) and Leopard-2 tanks to bolster its combat capability.

Earlier, reports had indicated that Rheinmetall was ready to ship the Marder to Ukraine. However, with Puma’s underwhelming performance, the transfer of the Marder could further meet an administrative obstacle.

Marder (infantry fighting vehicle) - Wikipedia
Marder (infantry fighting vehicle) – Wikipedia

Earlier this month, the head of the Defense Committee of the German Parliament Bundestag confirmed in a tweet that the US had given the country the green light to go ahead with the transfer of the MBTs. “This was confirmed to me during my visit to Washington in all my discussions with the State Department, Congress, and the Senate,” she wrote on Twitter.

According to a claim by German media outlet FAZ, Germany could supply Ukraine with up to 80 Leopard-2 tanks from its stockpiles at Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. Additionally, Russian-made tanks from Ukrainian inventories may take the place of the other 30 units that serve as simulated targets at the combat training facility for the Bundeswehr.

Since the beginning of the war, Germany has hesitated and resisted calls to provide Ukraine with highly sophisticated weaponry. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reportedly declined to offer Leopard-2 tanks, citing Berlin’s military requirements, according to an article in the German newspaper Welt on September 6.

In October, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock stated that the delivery of tanks was not a top priority for Germany and that Ukraine’s primary requirement for military hardware was air defenses. Berlin, therefore, provided Kyiv with the IRIS-T air defense systems while holding back on order for Leopard-2 tanks.

The demands have recently been renewed, and the issue has gained significantly more traction since getting Washington’s endorsement. As Poland, Ukraine’s neighbor already uses the regular Leopard tank, Gustav Gressel of the European Council on Foreign Relations reasoned that it would only make logical to outfit Ukraine with the Leopard-2.

As the conflict intensifies, there are high speculations that the Bundestag will accede to Kyiv’s demands. If this happens, Germany will become the first western nation to supply it with modern Main Battle Tanks. However, a decision in this regard is yet to be taken by the government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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