1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

What type of armored vehicles are being sent to Ukraine?

January 7, 2023

After months of wavering, Germany and the United States want to supply Ukraine with armored infantry fighting vehicles. France made a start with the promise of armored reconnaissance vehicles.

The German Marder infantry fighting vehicle in action.
The German Marder infantry fighting vehicle will now also to be delivered to UkraineImage: Philipp Schulze/dpa/picture alliance

Ukraine has repeatedly requested battle tanks and other armored fighting vehicles from its allies. Though air defense and armored recovery vehicles are now set to be shipped, battle and firing tanks are not. These are several models under discussion.

German Marder infantry fighting vehicles

Germany has announced that it will supply Marder infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine. Infantry fighting vehicles transport ground troops into combat and provide them with fire support. The Marder is a versatile weapon system, with room for six to seven gunners. It has a 20mm automatic cannon and optional MILAN (Missile d'Infanterie Legar Antichar, or infantry anti-tank missile) guided missile system for ground and air targets. It also has a ventilation system to protect against NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) weapons and can navigate through waters up to two meters deep.

The Marder infantry fighting vehicle.
The Marder is old but reliable, the successor model Puma cannot take its place yetImage: Philipp Schulze/dpa/picture alliance

Having entered service in 1971, the Marder is an old but tried-and-tested military vehicle that serves in a number of other armies aside from the Bundeswehr. This has been made possible by continuous improvements, also known as "combat upgrades" in military jargon. The Marder was also deployed in Kosovo and Afghanistan. The successor model, the Puma, is so flawed that it is unable to replace the Marder for the time being.

Rising number of Germans back weapons deliveries to Ukraine

US Bradley M2 infantry fighting vehicles

The US government will ship Bradley M2 infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine. The Bradley M2 can transport an infantry of nine to ten soldiers during battle while providing them with protection. It's armed with a 25mm machine canon and a machine gun, as well as several guided missiles. In addition to being capable of navigating through waters up to 1.20 meters (4 feet) deep, it can reach speeds of up to 65 kilometers (40 miles) per hour, and it has a range of 400 kilometers (248 miles). It can also be carried by cargo aircraft.

The American Bradley infantry fighting vehicle.
The American Bradley infantry fighting vehicle was used in the Gulf and Iraq warsImage: Baderkhan Ahmad/AP Photo/picture alliance

One idea is that the Bradley M2 could work in conjunction with the standard American battle tank M1 Abrams to fight off enemy tanks and infantry. The Abrams, which has stronger armor and heavier weaponry, could take up the front line while the Bradley defends the flank. Almost 6,000 units of the Bradley have been sold since it was introduced to the market in 1981, making it one of the best-selling fighting vehicles in the world. Since then, it's been deployed in most major US military operations, including the First Gulf War in 1990 and the 2003 Iraq War.

French AMX-10 RC armored fighting vehicles

President Emmanuel Macron described the AMX-10 RC as a light tank — which is misleading. The AMX-10 RC isn't really a battle tank. The "RC" in AMX-10 RC stands for roues canon, which means wheeled canon. It's an all-wheel drive reconnaissance vehicle with a 105-millimeter canon. The fighting vehicle was first manufactured in 1976 and has been continuously improved since.

The French AMX-10 tank.
Wheels instead of chains make the AMX-10 lighter, faster and quieterImage: Gouhier Nicolas/abaca/picture alliance

Primarily used for reconnaissance purposes, it was designed to be maneuverable and quiet. Its all-wheel drive and light weight allow it to reach speeds of 85 kilometers an hour, which is fast for an armored fighting vehicle. It also has a range of 800 kilometers. Fighting vehicles that rely on caterpillar tracks  — rather than rubber wheels — for propulsion can only go half that distance, but tend to have stronger armor. The AMC-10 RC doesn't stand a chance against battle tanks with larger canons, but it serves a different purpose. The French vehicle has been deployed in battles in Chad, Iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Mali.

Still not supplied to Ukraine: Leopard 2 main battle tanks

The Leopard 2 main battle tank has been in series production since 1979 and has undergone a range of upgrades since then. The Bundeswehr does not plan to replace it until 2030. Produced by Munich-based Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, it is a popular export product for Germany.

Recent years have seen considerable controversy over Germany's Leopard 2 export deals with countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which have faced international criticism for human rights abuses. The German public has hotly debated the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, weighing repeated promises by the federal government that Germany would refuse to deliver weapons to areas in active crisis against potential tactical advantages for Ukraine. 

a Leopard 2 on a dusty hill
Germany is still not willing to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to UkraineImage: picture-alliance/dpa/K.-M. Wegmann

Ukraine lacks battle tanks and fighting vehicles

What Ukraine really wants are battle tanks. But according to the recent statements from Paris and Washington DC, there are no plans to supply them any time soon. For now, France won't deliver it's Leclerc tanks, and the US won't ship the M1 Abrams either. Since Olaf Scholz doesn't want to act alone, Ukraine will also have to wait on shipments of the Leopard 2.

The Leopard 2 has a 120mm gun, which it can use to attack stationary or moving targets even while on the move. It can cross water up to four meters deep with additional equipment. The NBC protection is designed to last up to 48 hours. The 1500-horsepower, 60-plus-mph tank is a heavyweight — its more than 60 tons are always a problem for bridges. According to the Canadian and Danish soldiers involved, the Leopard has proven useful in operations in Afghanistan, primarily because of its high level of protection against attacks.

This article was originally published in German.