19 January 2023

This is All About Marketing

Germany and the US are having a dispute over sending Leopard tanks to the Ukraine.

The dispute is that the Germans are unwilling to send their Leopard 2s to the Ukraine unless the US sends M-1 Abrams tanks to the Ukraine as well.

This has nothing to do with the diplomatic or military considerations, and it has everything to do with marketing.

The Germans recall the pictures from Syria where Leopard 2 tanks operated by the Turkish army suffered heavy casualties, a number of the tanks "brewing up."

This was an older model of the tank, and it was deployed poorly, but it was still a major embarrassment.

If the Ukrainians deploy either the Leopard 2 or the Abrams against a near-peer adversary like Russia, particularly when operated by a force that lacks the training and infrastructure to operate them properly like the Ukrainians.  (They will for example have to train loaders for the NATO tanks, their current inventory uses auto-loaders)

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met his newly appointed German counterpart on Thursday for talks that took on greater urgency after Berlin put conditions on tank deliveries to Ukraine.

In a call this week with President Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz indicated that in order for Germany to unlock a package of Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine, Washington should send tanks, too, according to a German and a U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversation.

It’s a move Washington doesn’t want to make, citing the high fuel consumption and maintenance burden of the U.S. military’s M1 Abrams battle tanks. Austin was hoping to break the deadlock in Berlin and persuade Germany to send tanks, according to a senior U.S. defense official.

As the manufacturer of the Leopard 2, Germany’s approval is technically required for any country in Europe to send those tanks on to Kyiv. But as frustrations mounted, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki threatened Wednesday night to send the 14 tanks Poland has promised — regardless of whether Germany approves.

While the Abrams does consume 3-5 times more fuel than the Leopard 2, but the operation of the other subsystems are roughly equivalent.

They both have similar issues with their impact on roads and bridges, and their maintenance requirements are similar.

This is all about merciless merchants of death being worried about the PR implications of seeing their tanks blown up on YouTube.


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