Leopard 2A6 MBT Germany

Unexpected factors made the raid of two Ukrainian brigades in Zaporizhzhia fail; the most modern Leopard 2A6 tank was destroyed.

On the morning of June 8, the 33rd Mechanized Brigade and 47th Shock Brigade of the Ukrainian army gathered many Leopard 2 main tanks and Bradley infantry fighting vehicles to launch a large-scale attack against the front line. Russia near the Malaya village of Tokmachka in Zaporizhzhia province.

Two Ukrainian brigades had to pass through a dense minefield to get close to the Russian trenches. Ukrainian commanders are well aware of this and have deployed at least one BMR-2 minesweeping vehicle and one Leopard 2R minesweeping vehicle in the hope of creating a safe passage for a company of M2A2 Bradley armored vehicles from the 47th Brigade along with a Leopard 2R. Several Leopard 2A6 tanks of the 33rd Brigade advanced.

However, a series of unexpected factors appeared when the minesweepers began to charge. The Ukrainian engineering forces failed to open the way because the minefield was too thick, leaving at least one Leopard 2A6 tank, a BMR-2 minesweeper and nine M2A2 Bradley fighting vehicles stuck in the open field.

Russian armed helicopters and artillery immediately bombarded the formation of Ukrainian tanks and armored vehicles, which were almost standing still. In a short time, the Leopard 2A6 tank and a series of armor were destroyed by Ka-52 helicopter-launched missiles and artillery shells.

The offensive near the Malaya village of Tokmachka to break through the Russian line on June 8 was unsuccessful and was a major setback for Ukraine.

Ukraine’s allies have so far only committed to delivering 21 Leopard 2A6s, the most modern variant of the German-made main tank, and 109 M2 infantry fighting vehicles armed with US-made anti-tank missiles export. The failed raid on June 8 caused Ukraine’s 33rd and 47th Brigade to lose up to 5% of their combat vehicles in just one morning.

Western experts say that breaking through the enemy’s defense is the most difficult and damaging stage for any armored unit, which was clearly demonstrated in the battle near the Malaya village of Tokmachka.

Under Russian fire, Ukrainian units had to withdraw from the front lines to preserve combat vehicles, including the Leopard 2R mine-clearing vehicle crew. However, they had to leave the British-made heavy mine plows on the battlefield.

If the battlefield conditions are more favorable for the Ukrainian side, they can tow the Leopard 2A6 and some M2 armor for repair. The Ukrainian military once tried to repair a Leopard 2A4 that was damaged in a fight with Russia. However, the two Ukrainian brigades will be forced to change their offensive tactics after the defeat on June 8.

Western experts say that the Russian line south of Malaya Tokmachka village is stronger than what Ukrainian intelligence believes. The 70th and 291st Mechanized Infantry Regiments, the 22nd and 45th Special Operations Brigade, and a reserve unit of Russia are guarding this area.

The 33rd and 47th Brigades may have to speed up Russian minefield clearance or find a way around. Russian attack helicopters were one of the factors that made the June 8 raid fail, so Ukraine may need to send Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns to the front line to support.

The raid by the 33rd and 47th Brigade near the Malaya village of Tokmachka may have been Ukraine’s first major defeat in a counter-offensive, but Western experts believe this is not an indication that a major counter-offensive operation is also in progress similar outcome.

“The damage to weapons and equipment, including those with Western aid, from the beginning of the Ukrainian counter-offensive is not a sign of future developments,” the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), based in the US, said. “It is important not to overstate the initial loss of Western and other weapons, especially during raids on strong enemy lines.”