The combat footage posted on the social media page shows a Challenger 2 tank that was allegedly destroyed in fighting near Robotyne, Ukraine. The video is short and partly obscured by smoke, but it shows the partial yet distinctive outline of the British-built main battle tank.
Several reports claim that the video makes it a "confirmed loss."
Once the authenticity of the footage is verified, the destruction of the MBT will officially be considered the first loss of a Challenger 2 to enemy action in its history. The Challenger 2 previously had "a successful track record of combat" that earned it accolades as a true example of "undefeated armor."
The 1990s tank's design is focused on long-range engagements, in contrast to close-up fighting like Russian-designed armor. For the longest time, the Challenger 2 has been considered one of the best in the world.
The Challenger 2 MBT was designed in the late Cold War to battle Russian armor in Central Europe. It has previously been deployed in Bosnia, Iraq and Kosovo. Prior to the as-yet unverified footage, only one MBT had ever been destroyed in a warzone by friendly fire in Iraq in 2003. (Related: Russia fines Google $32,000 for not deleting alleged MISINFORMATION about ongoing war in Ukraine.)
The U.K. has donated 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, which the latter used to equip Ukrainian brigades alongside over 90 German-made Leopard tanks donated by a group of NATO nations.
Headlines of mounting Leopard tank losses characterized the early weeks of the counteroffensive, and the Challenger 2 group was allegedly withheld to support the 82nd Air Assault Brigade, Ukraine’s most elite fighting force.
And while the Challenger was the first Western armor to be donated to Ukraine, it was among the last to appear in combat. This means that the main thrust of the counteroffensive was being launched, particularly since this formation was said to be the force exploiting a breakthrough achieved by other units.
When the first Challenger 2 in Ukrainian service was spotted, it bore special adaptations made by its new owners, including what some called a "cope cage." The improvised armor, which had characteristics of bar or slat armor with a roof cage, is designed to detonate rocket-propelled grenades early and catch improvised explosive device (IED)-laden drones.
The effectiveness of the modifications is a hotly debated topic.
The Ukrainians are full of praise for the Challenger 2, with some praising its design priorities, such as superior optics and a more accurate main gun for long-range engagements. The MBT is also popular because of its method of ammunition storage, which directs accidental or combat-caused explosions outside, rather than inside toward the tank's crew.
In a video posted on Twitter by Ukraine's Ministry of Defense, Ukrainian crews praised the Challenger 2 for being a "sniper rifle among tanks," along with its advantages over Russian-built machines.
According to the Ukrainian government's translation, the crewmen said the Challenger 2 "undoubtedly set a world record when it hit a T-55 from a distance of more than five kilometers [3 miles or so]… Its advantage is that it has a long range, it is very precise. It is a machine designed to operate at a long distance and [engage other tanks]. There is no such thing in our tanks which are meant for engaging infantry with fragmentation shells."
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