Ukraine Could Send Its New Challenger 2 Tanks To Fight Russia’s Best T-90 Tanks

It’s beginning to make sense why the Ukrainian Army would arm two fast airmobile brigades – the 25th and 80th – with lumbering British-made Challenger 2 tanks.

The brigades operated in the forests around Kreminna, 10 miles north of Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region. It is the same sector in which the Russian army concentrated its own best T-90 tanks and BMP-T combat vehicles.

It is possible that planners in Kiev specifically intend for the Challenger 2 to attack the T-90 and BMP-T.

There are not many tank battles in Ukraine. Of course there are big exceptions. During the heady first weeks of the war, the Ukrainian 1st Armored Brigade hid their T-64 tanks in the forest around Chernihiv, 60 miles north of Kiev. The old, ex-Soviet tanks attacked passing Russian tanks at close range.

The Russians and Ukrainians mostly deploy their tanks in combined arms formations that also include infantry and combat vehicles. The infantry protects the tanks, which in turn blast enemy fortifications blocking the infantry.

But as soon as Ukraine’s first 14 BAE Systems Challenger 2s arrive near Kreminna as early as next month, tank fighting could break out between the 25th and 80th Air Mobile Brigades and Russia’s 90th Armored Division.

The 90th operates many of Russia’s dwindling fleet of new T-90 tanks, as well as the nine surviving examples of the latest BMP-T combat vehicle.

The sole BMP-T company just suffered its first combat loss. The 45-ton three-person T-90s also do not have a big war. The Ukrainians have so far destroyed or captured 50 of the approximately 400 T-90s built by tank manufacturer Uralvagonzavod for the Russian army.

Still, on paper, the T-90s are better than the T-64s and T-72s of the Ukrainian army. All the more reason for the Ukrainians to avoid tank battles.

The 70-ton, four-person Challenger 2, on the other hand, outperforms and outperforms the T-90 And also offers better armor protection. The Challenger 2 is armed with a towed Royal Ordnance L30 main gun that fires 120mm shells at a range of up to three miles.

A T-90 crew probably can’t even do that see three miles, much less shoot so far with its 125mm smoothbore gun – not even when the gunner is peering through Russia’s best Sosna-U day-night sights.

Fourteen Challenger 2s is not many Challenger 2s, however. The 25th and 80th Airmobile Brigades could each form a single, low-strength company with three fewer tanks than a Ukrainian airmobile brigade normally possesses. It wouldn’t take many breakdowns or casualties to incapacitate a seven-tank company for sustained combat.

And that’s why it’s safe to assume that the UK will eventually donate additional Challenger 2s to Ukraine. In the woods around Kreminna there could be a hundred or more T-90s. Those Ukrainian paratroopers won’t beat them with just 14 tanks.

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