War in Ukraine: why France hesitates to deliver Leclerc tanks to kyiv

The park of French heavy armored vehicles is reduced to 226, and Paris has no immediate replacement solution. On the Ukrainian side, we favor the German leopard, easier to maintain and troubleshoot.

by Cédric Pietéturunga

The question quickly arose after the announcement, Wednesday, January 25, of the sending to Ukraine of German Leopard and American Abrams: France will she follow the movement and deliver in turn heavy tanks modern to the kyiv forces? Will the army agree to separate from some of the 226 Leclerc chanillas available to it? Or will it be content to send AMX10-RC, a light tank mounted on wheels gradually withdrawn from service, as Emmanuel Macron announced on January 4?

Officially, “discussions” have taken place for several weeks between Paris and kyiv on the advisability of providing Leclerc to Ukrainian forces, and no final decision has been made. According to the Elysée, the subject was still addressed by the President of the Republic during a telephone exchange on Tuesday, January 24, with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky. “Exchanges between French and Ukrainian experts continue, in particular to estimate the cost-benefit report of such a supply,” explains an official source, dismissing the hypothesis of fast delivery.

A combat tank is, it is true, not equipment like the others. Lancer of the armies, it is the only terrestrial machine that combines mobility (with its caterpillars), protection (with its armor) and firepower (with its 120 mm cannon). “A Leclerc can run up to 80 km/h, destroy by moving a target up to 4,000 meters away, while protecting his crew from enemy shots”, lists Colonel Alexandre de Féligonde, corps chief 1 ER HUNTER regiment (1 er rch) of Verdun, who commands the squadron of thirteen Leclerc tanks sent by France in Romania after the invasion of Ukraine , in order to defend the eastern flank of Europe.

Only problem, these steel monsters of more than 50 tonnes are “as robust as fragile”, recognizes a military source. We often forget it but a modern tank requires very important logistical support when deployed. To supply it with fuel and ammunition, but above all to ensure its maintenance. When a tank rolls, two are immobilized, are used to saying specialists in the mechanized cavalry. In Romania, some 200 men of 1 Rch, accompanied by two troubleshooting tanks, were deployed to take care of the Leclerc handle sent. For having forgotten it, Moscow lost dozens of units at the start of his offensive in Ukraine: who was storming kyiv without support, part of the T-72 and T-80 Russians had to be abandoned by their crews, short of fuel or simply unable to troubleshoot them.

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/Media reports cited above.