Tanks, Strike Aircraft and Armored Vehicles: Brief Overview of Weaponry for Ukraine

February 1, 2023
UkraineWorld spoke to Ivan Kyrychevsky, military expert at Defense Express Media & Consulting Company.

Key points -- in our brief, #UkraineWorldAnalysis:

1. On the weapon supplies under discussion

  • The number of Abrams tanks in the world is greater than the number of Leopards. Between the 21 countries which operate Leopards, there are about 400 total tanks, while the US Army alone has 2,600 tanks in service and approximately 3,600 in storage. These tanks are now tied up in NATO's internal deliberations.
  • Tornado strike aircraft, which are now being discussed, are now in the condition of "flying coffins". Merkel's government failed to purchase the F-35 fighter jets that were supposed to replace the Tornado, so the German treasury now has to pay double price for the F-35 and allocate funds to extend the Tornado's service life for a couple more. It must be understood that the F-35 and Tornado are capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons. There is an American air base in Germany where 20 tactical nuclear bombs are stored, and it is the German Air Force that must provide the carriers.
  • Germany has 100 Eurofighters capable of carrying strike weapons, such as Storm Shadow or SCALP cruise missiles. The German fighter aircraft is either back burner or currently patrolling the skies over the Baltics, Romania, Slovakia and other NATO countries which do not possess fighter aircraft. 
  • Germany is famous for its rational calculation mindset. But in order to provide Ukraine with air defense, Germany supplied IRIS-T complexes, which were initially intended for Egypt, and in fact Germany lost money on its export contract to help Ukraine.

2. On the needs of the Ukrainian Armed Forces

  • Before the full scale invasion, Ukraine had had 800 tanks. In the first 3 months of the war, we lost 400. Our allies have supplied us with 300 Soviet-type tanks. Almost all Soviet-made tanks, such as the T-72, were scrapped in Eastern Europe, meaning that there are very few to replace Ukraine's losses. Thus, Western tanks are literally a means of survival. General Zaluzhny said that 300 tanks are needed to complete 1-2 offensive operations.
  • The Senator and Bulldog APCs and Marder IFVs being supplied from Britain, Canada, and Germany are needed to support tanks. We were first given Marder IFVs, and then Leopard 2 tanks. Marders are driven by panzergrenadiers, which can support tanks in battle. Zaluzhny noted that 700 armored vehicles are needed for 1-2 offensive operations.
  • For example, the Bradleys that America has promised have caused a stir because they can not only support infantry on the battlefield, but also destroy tanks. They can be used both for maneuverable defense and for offensive operations.
  • The advantage of Western fighters is not in their technical specs, but in the set of guided weapons that they can carry.
  • Now the USA is looking for Soviet weapons in Latin America, where there are many Soviet Mi-24 and Mi-8 aircraft. In Peru, for example, there are attack aircraft 125 and modernized MiG-29.

3. On the approximate quantity of Kh-22 missiles

  • The Kh-22 was intended not only for striking American aircraft carriers, but also for strikes on Europe. When the disposal of our Tu-22M2 and Tu-22M3 bombers began in the 2000s, our own Kh-22 stocks were taken at the same time. Estimates indicate that Russia has around 160  Kh-22 missiles left.
Ivan Kyrychevsky, military expert at Defense Express Media & Consulting Company

This material was prepared with financial support from the International Renaissance Foundation.

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