Ukrainian paratroopers become heavy and slow Challenger 2 tanks.  This could force a change in tactics.

Ukrainian paratroopers become heavy and slow Challenger 2 tanks. This could force a change in tactics.

The UK so far promised to Ukraine 14 Challenger 2 tanks. We now know which units will use the 70-ton tanks: the 25th and 80th Air Assault Brigades.

It’s a interesting choice. Ukrainian air assault brigades are currently operating THE the fastest Ukrainian tank—the turbine-powered T-80BV. But the diesel-powered Challenger 2 may be the the slowest Ukrainian tank. The British tanks might force the paratroopers to review their logistics and tactics.

We can safely assume that the 25th and 80th Air Assault Brigades will be the first operators of the Challenger 2, as Ukrainian soldiers wearing the patches of these units were present when Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelensky and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met at the British Army Training Center at Lulworth Ranges in Dorset on Wednesday.

Also present are instructors from the Ukrainian Army’s 199th Training and Education Center, which trains the service’s airborne units.

Paratroopers of the Ukrainian army are not necessarily like paratroopers of other armies. Since they wage mechanized warfare within the borders of their own country, they hardly ever parachute from planes and only rarely travel by helicopter. And unlike the airborne forces of the British and American armies, for example, the Ukrainian air assault brigades each have a company of about 10 tanks.

But these brigades train to move quickly, so it makes sense that they would operate a tank with what is, in essence, a jet engine. The three-person, 42-ton T-80BV has a 1,000 horsepower turbine that normally burns aviation gas but can, in theory, burn any liquid hydrocarbon fuel. Even kerosene.

The 70-ton M-1 tank – 31 of which were promised by the United States to Ukraine –can pull the same round.

The turbine gives the T-80BV a top speed of around 80 km/h on the road, up to 21 km/h more than the Challenger 2 diesel can handle. This speed comes at a cost, of course. The T-80BV runs out of gas after 200 miles, while the Challenger 2 can travel 340 miles on internal fuel.

The four-person Challenger 2 also trades speed for armor protection. The British-made tank is one of the best-protected tanks in the world.

With their new Challenger 2s, the tank companies of the 25th and 80th Airmobile Brigades will be able to travel further and survive intense enemy fire. But they will slowly.

It is unknown how many Challenger 2s each brigade’s tank company will operate. Currently, a Ukrainian “airmobile” tank company has about 10 T-80s. But so far the UK has only pledged 14 Challenger 2s. That’s enough for two seven-tank companies, assuming the Ukrainians have no tanks in reserve.

Seven tanks is probably too little for a brigade-sized combined arms fight. This strongly implies that the UK intends eventually to promise additional Challenger 2s.

The British Army retired most of the 386 Challenger 2s it had acquired. He could donate hundreds of tanks without drawing from his own depleted inventory.

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