Monday, June 18, 2018

Ukraine’s tankmen come last in Strong Europe Tank Challenge 2018

June 11, 2018 (KyivPost) After three days of intense exercises and competitions with top tank teams in the Strong Europe Tank Challenge 2018, Ukraine’s most distinguished armored platoon finished last.

Troops from NATO and its partner states compete during the Strong Europe Tank Challenge 2018 drills at the 7th U.S. Army Europe base in Grafenwoehr, Germany on June 4-7.

The event, which was held at the U.S. Army Europe 7th training center in Grafenwoehr near Nurnberg, included teams from Sweden, Germany, the United Stated, Britain, France, Austria, and Poland and Ukraine.

 The German team celebrates after winning the Strong Europe Tank Challenge 2018 drills

The teams competed in 13 disciplines, such as tank maneuvering, precise stationary gunnery, defensive and offensive operations, technical maintenance, combat reconnaissance, and medicine and evacuation amidst chemical hazard, as well as fitness and handgun shooting for personnel.

Purple smoke envelops a Ukrainian T-84U tank in a long-range firing competition 

The Germans, in their advanced Leopard 2A6 tanks were overall winners this year, taking the title of NATO’s best armored forces back from Austria. Sweden, a first-timer in the event, finished second, while the Austrian team took the bronze medal. The U.S. team, with their Abrams M1A2 SEP tanks, won a special prize for excellency in precise gunnery.

A team member competes in the handgun shooting competition

The Ukrainian team, commanded by Captain Roman Bagaev from the army’s 14th Armored Brigade, were let down by their T-84U tanks – a Ukrainian upgrade of the Soviet-era T-80. The tanks, which were overhauled and repaired specifically for the challenge by Ukrainian state-run defense holding UkrOboronProm, were hit by a series of breakdowns and failures.

Troops carry ammunition during the Strong Europe Tank Challenge 2018 drills

During the first round of firing and maneuvers exercises on day one, the Ukrainian team got only 208 points out of 500 due to technical failures of the new machines.Last year, Bagaev’s platoon, using older but more reliable T-64BV tanks, the army’s ubiquitous workhorse, took the 4th place at the challenge, beating the Polish team with its Leopard 2A4 machines.

A Ukrainian T-84U tanks fires a shell during the Strong Europe Tank Challenge 2018 drills

Tanks fire their guns during the Strong Europe Tank Challenge 2018 drills 

Swedish Wartofta Tank Company with their Stridsvagn 122 main battle tanks in Grafenwoehr