French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu declared on Sunday that French armored vehicles could arrive in Ukraine next week.
The AMX-10 is a wheeled armored vehicle with a powerful gun, and is sometimes described as a light tank. The move comes more than a month after Paris said it would send some 30 of these vehicles as part of a new aid package after sending anti-aircraft weapons and mobile artillery systems.
But the AMX-10, being lightly armored, doesn’t measure up to the kind of vehicles Ukraine insists it needs to win the conflict with Russia.
Kyiv has requested more heavily armored main battle tanks, sometimes called main battle tanks, including more supplies of British Challenger 2s, American M1 Abrams and German Leopard 2s. Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark have donated some 100 older but still capable Leopard 1s, bringing NATO-designed main battle tanks in Ukraine to almost 200 vehicles.
Analysts say these figures are insufficient to turn the tables on the battlefield, but could help counter an expected Russian offensive.
Ukraine is believed to have around 400 domestically produced T-64BM tanks and 300 T-80 tanks, as well as operating around 1,000 captured Russian tanks. In addition to these captured and domestically-built Russian tanks, Poland, Morocco, and the Czech Republic have also donated dozens of Russian-designed T-72 tanks, some of which have been modernized.
According to a recent estimate by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Russia is believed to have about 1,800 tanks available for service, having lost about 1,000 of its operational fleet. Due to the great intensity of the fighting on the front lines, these numbers can fluctuate rapidly.
The United States has also promised more than 100 Bradly fighting vehicles, designed to transport troops into battle but can be equipped with anti-tank missiles and have a gun powerful enough to destroy lightly armored vehicles.
The first vehicles will be shipped to Ukraine “at the end of next week,” Lecornu told the Sunday edition of Le Parisien newspaper.
The training of the Ukrainian crews on the AMX-10 is “almost finished”, he declared.
The general training of the Ukrainian military “is intensifying,” he added, both in France and in Poland, a NATO member country.
Starting next month, 600 Ukrainian soldiers will receive training every month, he said.
Asked about the possible delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine, an urgent request from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Defense Minister said the issue was “not taboo.”
However, he has stated that this type of military aid raises complex “logistical and practical issues.”
Due to slow tank deliveries by Europe and the United States, delayed by German reluctance to supply Leopard 2s or allow Allied operators to ship them, rapid delivery of AMX-10s is likely to be well received by Kyiv.
The largest main battle tanks are not expected to appear on the front lines until April at the earliest.