Weapons for Ukraine: what Kyiv wants from Berlin

Germany already provides light weapons to Ukraine, but it should also supply heavy ones. What could they be? They have very specific demands from Ukraine.

The decision was not an easy one – for Germany to supply heavy weapons to Ukraine. The government took it only at the end of April under pressure from the United States, other allies, and Ukraine itself. There is also disunity among the German population: a poll on April 28 shows that 45 percent of respondents support supplies, and just as many are against the provision of heavy weapons to Ukraine.

Cheetah tanks

The Cheetah self-propelled anti-aircraft guns are air defense tanks. They have two 35-millimeter guns that are effective against planes or helicopters flying at altitudes of up to 3,500 meters but can also hit lightly armored ground targets. This means that the Cheetah can be used both as a means of defense and attack. However, with their small arms, they have no chance against battle tanks.

Cheetah tanks can travel 550 kilometers on a single charge and can overcome water obstacles without additional equipment. At the time, they were designed to combat armored combat helicopters such as the Soviet Mi-24, which makes them very suitable for the war in Ukraine.

As of 2012, the Cheetah is no longer in service with the Bundeswehr, and the only NATO country still using it is Romania. German machines must first be brought into combat readiness, and there is another problem: their complex electronic, radar, and fire systems require very good training from their service teams – according to experts, the training lasts at least six months. Germany will provide Ukraine with 50 Cheetah tanks, for which, however, additional ammunition must be procured.

The Armored Howitzers 2000

This type of weapon is an armored self-propelled 155-millimeter artillery installation that can fire three artillery shells in ten seconds and can hit up to 40 kilometers.

Unlike, for example, Leopard tanks, the 2000 self-propelled howitzers cannot fire on the move and give way to battle tanks in a direct duel. However, after shooting, they can quickly change their position and thus avoid retaliatory blows.

The howitzer can reach speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour, has a range of up to 420 km, and can cross rivers and other bodies of water to a depth of one and a half meters. One of its purposes is to follow the motorized combat units and provide them with fire support.

According to Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht, the Bundeswehr has about a hundred such self-propelled howitzers, 40 of which are usable. Seven will be provided to Ukraine, but it will take time to bring them into combat readiness – probably until the summer.

Marder tanks

They are a multifunctional weapon system: they are used to transport infantry units to the front line, provide them with protection, and can fire. There is room for six or seven fighters who can fire shots from inside the tank. In addition, this combat unit has a 20-millimeter automatic cannon and has guided missiles to hit ground and air targets.

Marder has an air purification system for protection against nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, and thanks to special hydraulics it can overcome water obstacles up to two meters deep.

These tanks have been in service in Germany since 1971, ie. are even older than the Cheetah tanks and are gradually being replaced by the more modern Puma.

Leopard 2 battle tanks

“Leopard 2” is one of the pride of the German arms industry. It has been mass-produced since 1978 and has been modernized many times since then. It will remain in service in the Bundeswehr until at least 2030 when it is planned to be replaced by a newer model.

It was created for defense against enemy armored units. Leopard 2 has a 120-millimeter cannon that can hit both static and moving targets. The cannon does not deviate from the target when passing through heavily rugged areas. With additional equipment, this tank can cover depths of up to four meters, and its air purification system provides the crew with up to 48 hours of protection against nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. The tank itself is a heavy category – it weighs over 60 tons, but its 1,500 horsepower gives it a top speed of 60 kilometers per hour.

So far, the German government has not promised Ukraine either the supply of Marder or Leopard tanks. But the list of applications from the Ukrainian Ambassador to Berlin Andriy Melnik includes 88 Leopard tanks, 100 Marder tanks, armored howitzers, and more.

Stinger missiles

Stinger is a portable anti-aircraft missile system with infrared targeting. The missile was developed in the United States but has long been manufactured in Europe, including Germany. Once the target is set – for example, a fighter or a combat helicopter, the launched missile pursues it alone at a distance of up to 4000 meters. The warhead explodes with a slight delay after impact, mostly in tanks, and thus increases its effectiveness.

Stinger missiles have proven to be extremely effective and easy to maintain. For example, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, local fighters equipped with American Stinger missiles managed to destroy many Soviet planes and helicopters.

Along with the United States, the Netherlands, and Lithuania, Germany has also provided Ukraine with 500 Stinger missiles since the start of the war. In addition, so far Germany has delivered to Ukraine more than a thousand anti-tank shells that can pierce up to 30 centimeters thick armor, and when they have another warhead – and reinforced concrete bunker walls up to 24 centimeters thick.

The arsenal of German weapons and ammunition for Ukraine includes 100 submachine guns, 100,000 hand grenades, 2,000 mines, 5,300 other explosive devices, and more than 16 million rounds of ammunition of various calibers, according to Ukrainian government sources.

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