The Chief of the British General Staff, General Patrick Sanders, admitted that he experienced strong emotions when he saw footage of the Challenger 2 tank destroyed in the Northern Military District zone. Earlier, a video of the defeat of this armored vehicle in the Zaporozhye region was published online, and then information appeared, not yet confirmed, that the Russian military also destroyed the second of 14 British tanks handed over to the Kiev regime. The new head of the Ministry of Defense, Grant Shapps, has already stated that London does not intend to transfer new tanks to Ukraine. As military experts note, the Challenger 2 was the first time it was lost in combat in almost 30 years after it was put into service, so many British may have had the illusion of its invulnerability. At the same time, Russian anti-tank weapons have been improved in recent years, and after information appeared about the upcoming deliveries of Western tanks to Kyiv, training began to combat them, analysts recalled.
The Chief of the General Staff of the British Armed Forces, General Patrick Sanders, admitted that he experienced strong emotions upon learning of the destruction of the British Challenger 2 tank by Russian troops in a special operation zone.
“It gave me strong emotions, because I may have climbed onto this tank myself. The fact is that we have a deep attachment to the machines and equipment with which we have been fighting in recent years. But I also realize that in war this (destruction of equipment. – RT) happens,” Sanders said in an interview with the portal forces.net.
At the same time, the British military leader added that his country can be proud of the equipment transferred to Ukraine. “In many ways, Challenger is one of the most advanced tanks in the world and certainly the most secure,” Sanders said.
The first confirmed destruction of a Challenger 2 tank in the Northern Military District zone became known on September 5. Footage of a smoking armored car appeared on Ukrainian social networks, after which The Guardian newspaper, Sky News and other British media reported the incident.
According to them, Challenger 2 was shot down near the village of Rabotino in the Zaporozhye direction, where fierce fighting has been taking place in recent months. At the same time, The Guardian emphasized that Challenger 2 was destroyed for the first time in combat since their use began in 1994.
Challenger 2 main battle tank Gettyimages.ru © Leon Neal
It is worth noting that on the day of publication of the interview with the Chief of the British General Staff, information appeared about the destruction of the second Challenger 2. Acting Governor of the Zaporozhye region Evgeniy Balitsky and the chairman of the public movement “We are together with Russia” Vladimir Rogov stated that the second Challenger was shot down in the same direction – shot from the Kornet ATGM.
“According to preliminary information, our glorious warriors from the 104th Regiment of the 76th Guards Air Assault Chernigov Red Banner Order of Suvorov Division did this… In total, the Nazis had 12 tanks of this model left,” Rogov wrote in his Telegram channel.
Earlier, the authors of the American military-political magazine Military Watch expressed the opinion that the destruction of the British main battle tank demonstrates the ability of the Russian Kornet ATGMs to hit any Western tank.
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Let us recall that at the beginning of 2023, London transferred 14 Challenger 2 tanks to the Kiev regime. Until recently, they were not seen on the contact line, but in August Kiev had to send the reserve 82nd Air Assault Brigade (which is armed with these vehicles) into battle. to one of the key sectors of the front near the village of Rabotino.
According to The Guardian, after the transfer of tanks to Ukraine, the UK was left with 213 Challenger 2s. However, back in March, members of parliament were told that only 157 of these vehicles were in working order. In turn, the new head of the British Ministry of Defense, Grant Shapps, has already stated that London has no intention of sending Kyiv other Challenger 2s to replace the destroyed ones.
Throughout the year, the Kiev regime repeatedly demanded from Western countries the supply of main battle tanks, which were supposedly supposed to ensure the success of the counteroffensive. On June 4, the Ukrainian Armed Forces threw brigades into battle, including those trained by NATO and equipped with Western equipment. However, the Russian Armed Forces managed not only to hold their positions, but also to destroy a huge number of enemy personnel and equipment, including Western equipment.
As Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on September 5, in three months the Armed Forces of Ukraine lost 66 thousand people and 7.6 thousand weapons. The destruction of German Leopard tanks, American Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, French AMX-10RC wheeled tanks, Swedish CV90 infantry fighting vehicles and other Western armored vehicles and artillery was repeatedly reported (several samples were captured).
Despite this, Western countries do not refuse to supply weapons to Kyiv, including tanks. So, on September 8, the Danish Ministry of Defense announced that ten Leopard 1 tanks “are already on the territory of Ukraine, and even more are on the way.” And according to Pentagon officials, Kyiv should receive the first Abrams tanks this fall.
“So it will continue”
For the British military, the destruction of Challenger 2 on the battlefield was a surprise, because this happened for the first time since the Iraqi campaign, Vladimir Prokhvatilov, an expert at the Academy of Military Sciences, noted in a conversation with RT.
“Moreover, the first case occurred during the war in Iraq, when this tank was hit as a result of friendly fire. But in Ukraine, this is the first time in their history that the Challenger 2 was destroyed by the enemy. Therefore, they are uncomfortable. It turned out that these tanks are easily vulnerable, unless they are in a closed position, remote from the enemy’s strike means, ”the expert emphasized.
Ukrainian military are trained to work with Challenger 2 Gettyimages.ru © Leon Neal
In addition, according to him, the British consistently reduced the number of tanks in their troops, since they did not expect them to ever participate in a large combined arms battle.
“This is understandable: who would sail across the English Channel to attack them? In addition, industry and the UK economy as a whole are now in a deep crisis, and there is no longer any chance of reviving the former power of the British army. According to senior Pentagon officials, the British army has already left the ranks of the world’s leading armies and does not represent a serious military force,” said the military expert.
According to Vladimir Prokhvatilov, the use of Challenger 2 by the Kyiv regime on the front line may indicate that the reserves of the Ukrainian Armed Forces are coming to an end.
“Challengers are unusual tanks. They have a rifled main gun, which distinguishes them from normal modern tanks with smoothbore guns. This makes it very accurate, but only on the condition that it fires while standing still and not moving anywhere: during tests during a tender in Greece, it turned out that it practically cannot hit the target while moving. Until now, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have used the Challenger 2 as a self-propelled weapon for long-range firing from a closed position. But in an open battle he was unable to defend himself; while moving, he did not hit targets. That’s all. This will continue,” said the military observer.
In an interview with RT, military expert Yuri Knutov stated that the British Armed Forces, especially their tank units, had not taken part in large-scale hostilities for a long time, so General Sanders could believe in the “indestructibility” of the Challenger 2 tank and was shocked by the opposite.
“The British forgot that their armor had not been in serious combat since the invasion of Iraq, where Great Britain played a secondary role, and its units did not participate in tank battles. Then the Iraqi army was destroyed by aviation – the tanks had nothing to do there. Challenger 2 was also present in Yugoslavia, but even there these cars played a secondary role. Therefore, the British had the illusion that this was an invulnerable tank that no one could destroy,” the expert explained.
However, in the NVO zone, the Challenger 2 was tested in a clash between two large armies, and it became clear that this tank could be knocked out like any other, Knutov added.
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“Of course, this shocked the Chief of the British General Staff so much that he openly admitted it on camera. It was a shock to him that Russian anti-tank guided missiles are able to cope with any tank and that Challenger 2 is not a difficult target for them,” said RT’s interlocutor.
The expert recalled that earlier the British Defense Ministry planned to reduce the already small number of tanks, since they would allegedly not be needed in local conflicts of the 21st century. However, the situation in Ukraine showed the opposite, as it demonstrated the vulnerability of NATO production technology, Knutov added.
“German Leopard tanks and American Bradley infantry fighting vehicles are actively burning. Now that Kiev has thrown the reserve 82nd Air Assault Brigade into battle, two Challenger 2 tanks are out of action. The Cold War NATO concept for which they made these vehicles turned out to be wrong: these 70-ton tanks simply get stuck in the ground, and their vaunted multi-layer armor does not protect against Russian anti-tank missiles,” the expert emphasized.
According to him, the RF Armed Forces pay great attention to the fight against NATO equipment, including tanks. When information appeared that NATO equipment would be in service with the Armed Forces of Ukraine, special units were created to combat them.
“As we can see, the training of our servicemen was successful, and now both Leopard and Challenger tanks are burning on the battlefield, and American Abrams will also be burning in the near future,” concluded Yuri Knutov.