With no end in sight to the Ukrainian and Russian conflict, Ukraine continues to develop its defensive capabilities with the introduction of Cold War-era German battle tanks and new domestically designed long-range missiles.
In a move that gained international attention, Germany gave Ukraine 10 decommissioned Leopard 1A5 tanks last month.
These tanks, originally designed by Porsche and manufactured by Krauss-Maffei in West Germany, date back to the 1960s and the 1980s.
Despite their age, experts believe they could still serve as formidable weapons. Lt. Gen. Andreas Marlow, who oversees Germany’s training program for Ukrainian forces, said the tank’s night-vision capabilities, weapons-stabilization systems, and unique ability to be driven in reverse make them valuable additions to Ukraine’s military resources.
These tanks are also easier to operate and maintain compared to their modern counterparts, such as the Leopard 2A6.
“Not a Bad Option”
Ukrainian tank crews have been undergoing rigorous training in Germany to effectively operate these tanks.
As part of a broader EU commitment to train 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers, Germany aims to train 10,000 Ukrainian troops by the end of 2023.
The tank crew must train six days a week for six weeks before returning, and Germans report that they have already trained 6,300 troops.
Christian Mölling, a military expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations, said: “Those Leopard 1 tanks are really not a bad option.”
A Ukrainian tank commander known only by his call sign, Bassist, told the Times, “In the end, if someone is a professional, it doesn’t matter how old he is.”
New Missile System
In a separate effort to bolster its military capabilities, Ukraine has developed a new long-range missile system capable of hitting targets in Russia.
This development marks a critical juncture in the conflict, as it potentially allows Ukraine to strike Russian territory. Previously, Ukraine was unable to strike Russian territory because they had been restricted by Western states regarding the use of their donated weapons.
The new missile system believed to be a modified R-360 Neptune anti-ship cruise missile, has already demonstrated its effectiveness by reportedly destroying Russia’s highly-prized S-400 “Triumf” missile system in Crimea.
Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, confirmed the missile’s modernity and its successful use in sinking a key vessel in Putin’s Black Sea fleet.
This missile, originally developed by the Luch Design Bureau, boasts a 16-foot size, a 330 lbs warhead, a weight of 1,920 lbs, and an impressive range of up to 190 miles.
Ukraine’s ability to target Moscow with its modified missile system could significantly reshape the dynamics of the ongoing conflict with Russia.
Furthermore, Ukraine has reportedly modified retired Soviet-era S-200 surface-to-air missile systems for ground attack use.
Alongside reports of drones regularly targeting Moscow, there have been increasing instances of S-200 missiles striking Russian territory.
Russia’s New Development
Russia has also been modifying and updating existing munitions.
Through the use of the Unified Module for Gliding and Guidance (UMPK) systems, Russia has transformed conventional bombs into precision-guided munitions.
This cost-effective modification equips older Soviet FAB-500М-62 gravity bombs with satellite guidance systems and wings, making them capable of more accurate targeting.
The affordability and abundance of these guided bombs make them a viable option for Russia to employ extensively in the conflict.
Zelenskyy Weighs in
As both Ukraine and Russia continue to develop and deploy advanced weaponry, President Zelenskyy said, “It is of great importance that we are a tester, a pioneer — in the good sense of the word — of the launch and use of many types of ammunition. Modern ones. This is a great example for many businessmen around the world. I think we will be number one in this area – military tech and digital. At least on the European continent.”
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