The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced the Ukrainian soldier’s completion of Challenger 2 training. The training began shortly after the MoD announced it would donate 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks (MBT), spare parts and accompanying ammunition to help Ukraine repel the Russian invasion.

UK military trainers spent several weeks training Ukrainian personnel how to operate and fight with the tanks. Instruction included how to command, drive and work together as a Challenger 2 tank crew and effectively identify and engage targets.

The tanks are expected to be used in a counter-offensive this spring, which is intended to overcome the war of attrition being fought in eastern Ukraine, where Russian forces have made little progress. The completion of training marks a significant step toward meaningfully sustaining the Ukrainian Armed Forces in their war against Russia.

The knowledge of the British Armed Forces alongside the sophisticated capabilities of Challenger 2 MBTs will decisively contribute to breaking the deadlock on Ukraine’s eastern front, where Russian forces attempt to close several pincer movements around the town of Avdiivka, and the more notorious town of Bakhmut – both in the Donetsk region.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace stated that the Ukrainian tank crews will “return to their homeland better equipped, but to no less danger. We will continue to stand by them and do all we can to support Ukraine for as long as it takes”.

Challenger 2 capability

“The Challenger 2 tank marks a step change in capability for the Armed Forces of Ukraine”, the MoD asserted, “ensuring they are better able to protect their crews and offering them some of the most modern and sophisticated gunnery systems in the world”.

The Challenger 2 is designed to destroy other tanks. It has been used by the British Army on operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Iraq, and has never experienced a loss at the hands of the enemy according to the British military. The MBT is also currently supporting Nato’s Baltic region, where it secures Euro-Atlantic security and deterring foes.

The Challenger 2 prioritises firepower (provided by its rifled 120mm L30A1 main armament which holds the distance record for the destruction of another tank) and protection (provided by the UK designed world-class Dorchester 2 armour.) These world-beating technologies make Challenger 2 slightly slower than some of its opponents, but the accuracy and lethality of the Challenger 2 offset their higher speeds.

Other Nato allies have committed to feeding Ukraine’s tanks divisions. The US are providing 31 M1A1 Abrams MBTs and Germany are still in the process of providing Leopard 2 MBTs, which will offer a diverse range of capabilities.