The Leopard 2A4 is said to be the most widespread version of the family of German-made main battle tanks (MBTs). These upgraded models of the third generation tanks are said to feature automated fire and blast suppression systems, as well as an upgraded turret with flat titanium/tungsten armor. A total of 54 Leopard 2A4 tanks were delivered to Ukraine by NATO partners earlier this year, while it was announced last week that German defense group Rheinmetall would deliver additional models to support Kiev.
Berlin initially agreed to the surrender of tanks, and then announced that it would deliver its own tanks to Ukraine in January. The tanks were considered a potential turning point for Kiev, as the Leopard 2 is considered one of the most advanced and capable MBTs in service around the world today.
However, just last month the armored behemoths experienced their baptism of fire in the ongoing conflict and some were destroyed by Russian forces. At the time, military analysts were quick to note that such casualties were almost to be expected in an offensive engagement, but Ukraine now appears to be taking major strides to further expand and improve the Leopard 2’s capabilities.
Improve the best?
A video showing a Leopard 2A4U – an unofficial designation of the main battle tank – circulated on social media on Saturday. Although less than half a minute long, the clip shows the German-made tank fitted with the additional Kontakt-1 ERA (Explosive Reactive Armor) and rubber shields. This would undoubtedly be one of the first times that Soviet-designed contact armor was used on a German-made tank.
The video has already been viewed more than 400,000 times.
Was too much displayed?
Ahead of its long-awaited counter-offensive, Kyiv also launched a campaign to stop excessive sharing via social media and other platforms that could reveal troop positions or unit movements. At the same time, however, the Ukrainian military continues to use so-called “war porn” videos that highlight the exploits of its units on the front lines.
In that case, it’s likely that nothing too mysterious has actually been revealed. If anything, it could show that Kiev is making efforts to further improve tanks and ensure it has a greater chance of surviving in battle. That way it could be part of a carefully orchestrated social media campaign, but without giving up too much.
“I contend that showing the Leopard tank online is not too much. However, Ukraine must strike a balance between trying to win the war on social media and public opinion and winning on the battlefield,” said Harry Kazianis, President of the Rogue States Project and Executive Editor for 19FortyFive. “One can only hope that Russia will learn this first in battle.”
“While it’s likely that the Kremlin – as well as other nations – will take a closer look at this and other videos, it doesn’t really tell much,” added Dr. Matthew J. Schmidt, associate professor of national security and politics, added science at the University of New Haven.
“Videos like this only show externally visible specifications that Intel officials would be aware of anyway,” Schmidt said. “Weapons are always the things we draw on as key information, because that’s what movies and video games are about. That said, it’s easy to share them too often, but my biggest concern would be accidental geolocation data and info on specific units and commanders. People, place and purpose of the maneuver are really what matters most.