Ukraine's European allies keep sending it broken and unusable Leopard 1 tanks

A tank crew stand on and beside a Leopard 1A5.
Ukraine has been gifted a number of Leopard 1A5 tanks by Germany.Getty/Sean Gallup
  • Over half the tanks donated to Ukraine from Denmark have technical problems, Danish media reported.

  • In a briefing, Denmark's defense minister said there are problems with 12 out of 20 Leopard 1 tanks.

  • It follows a report of similar issues with German donations of the Cold War-era tank.

Ukraine is so desperate for weapons that it eagerly accepts material other countries have deemed far too old and antiquated for their own armed forces. But reports this week suggest that some of what it's getting is simply unusable.

German's defense ministry announced in February a partnership with Denmark and the Netherlands to send Ukraine a donation of "at least" 100 refurbished Leopard 1A5 tanks. Germany itself retired the 42-ton, diesel-powered tank in 2000. But in its announcement described the 1A5 as a "robust and assertive" addition to Ukraine's defense. Ukrainian soldiers have been training at German bases on how to use them ever since.

The problem is that many of these battle tanks — first rolled out in 1965 — cannot be deployed on the battlefield at all.

On Friday, TV 2, a public broadcaster in Denmark, reported that 12 out of 20 of the Leopard 1A5s that have already been donated have technical issues. Two of the tanks are sitting in Poland with "serious" faults, the outlet reported, citing a briefing delivered by Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen.

And earlier in the week, the German outlet Der Spiegel reported that another 10 Leopard tanks had problems substantial enough for Ukraine to reject delivery of them.

The reports suggest that the German-Danish-Dutch consortium is unlikely to meet what had been an ambitious timeline for providing Ukraine with dozens of the Cold War-era tanks in working condition before winter.

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