Ukrainians will need around two months of training to use the Leopard tanks pledged by Germany and Ukraine probably already has plans to use different vehicles effectively, Estonian defense experts said on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Germany, after weeks of discussions and refusals, agreed to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. But Ukraine's armed forces will not be allowed to use them straight away.
"In Poland, these tanks are fully available and I believe simulators too. And to actually practice everything, including shooting, it all takes, say, eight weeks. I'm estimating because it's a completely new thing," Colonel Peeter Tali told Wednesday's "Ringvaate".
He said it is not impossible that Ukrainians have already been trained in Poland.
The effects of the tank will be seen on the battlefield in spring, March or April, Tali said, as it will be harder to use them any sooner when the roads will be muddy or difficult to pass.
The Leopards can be used for maneuver, encirclement and breakthroughs, he added.
The tank has "speed of maneuver, high firepower and armor plating" which protect the crew. They will work alongside infantry fighting vehicles, troops, support vehicles, and engineer vehicles, he said. The Leopards should easily defeat Russia's T64 to T90 tanks, the expert added.
The vehicles have not been used in a major war before even though Germany has sold over 3,000 vehicles. So this will be a "moment of truth" to see if they work properly, he said.
Ukraine likely has plans to coordinate equipment
Ukraine will receive several types of armored vehicles from different countries, Major Madis Koosa said, and there are likely already plans in place about how to use them.
Working out coordination will not be easy, Wednesday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.
"It's certainly a good idea to put the same tanks, similar models, together in one unit, because it's all about the logistics that go with it. Spare parts also need to be concentrated in the same unit. And if the spare parts from these different countries don't match, then that logistics becomes complicated and support becomes complicated," Koosa, commander of the operational and training department of the 2nd Infantry Brigade, said.
A tank battalion usually has between 40 and 50 vehicles and, if Ukraine forms one, it will be made up of German, British, French and Soviet Union-era machines.
Up until now, Ukraine has not assembled its tanks into one battalion, choosing instead to place them in smaller company-sized units, Koosa said.
A battalion could be used for a major offensive but it would require cooperation with other forces. The major did not make predictions about what Ukraine might do.
"A Russian tank is certainly a difficult target because of its small size. This is why Western tanks have developed their own observation and targeting systems. This is certainly an advantage of their tanks. Targets can be hit from greater distances and more accurately than with the tanks currently at Ukraine's disposal," said Koosa.
Expert: Discussions damaged Germany
Defense expert Rainer Saks said the weeks leading up to Germany's decision were a waste of time.
"The other side is the damage done by the completely unnecessary debate that has taken place over the last two or three weeks, which has undoubtedly done the most damage to Germany itself," Saks told "Aktuaalne kaamera".
"Looking at Ukraine, we lost two or three very valuable weeks, but Germany itself gave the impression of a less than determined country."
Saaks previously said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was shortsighted by dragging out the debate.
Poland will also send Ukraine tanks it brought from Germany. The U.S.A. confirmed on Wednesday it will send 31 Abrams tanks.
Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera, Ringvaade