Britain should send more tanks to Ukraine



Daily Telegraph

Letters To The Editor

sir – Given the suffering endured by the Russian people at Germany’s hands during the Second World War, Germany supplying Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine could indeed be seen as grossly antagonistic by the Russians (“Germany split over giving tanks to Ukraine”, report, January 24). The German leadership is right to be wary of crossing this line. Likewise, it is entirely natural for the United States to have reservations about handing over some of its Abrams tanks to Ukraine, given the importance of this tank type to Nato as a whole and the desire to avoid the vehicles falling into Russian hands. The British Challenger 2 tank, by contrast, is an old and almost obsolete design that makes up only a tiny proportion of Nato’s tank force, and in the next few years will be replaced by a significantly enhanced Challenger 3 design. The risk posed should it fall into Russian hands is much less of a concern, and Britain – an island nation, and therefore not as reliant on tanks for home defence – can afford a dip in the strength of its tank force for a few years. As such, a better way forward may be for Britain to increase the number of Challenger 2 tanks it is donating, beyond the mere squadron (14 tanks) currently committed, and for the Challenger 2 to become the main Western tank type donated to the war effort. Britain can well afford to donate, say, an entire regiment’s worth of Challenger 2 tanks (50 or so) to Ukraine, and then reach a deal with the United States to loan Abrams tanks to re-equip our tank fleet until Challenger 3 comes to fruition. A key part of this strategy would involve extending the scope of the Challenger 3 programme to include manufacture of all-new hulls (rather than just upgrading existing Challenger 2 hulls). Such a move would also be beneficial to British manufacturers and allow the prospect of Challenger 3 winning export work. Dr Mark Campbell-roddis Dunblane, Perthshire