British government has decided to deliver around 30 AS-90 self-propelled howitzers and 12 Challenger 2 main battle tanks. Two British tabloids: The Mirror and The Sun, initially broke the story. According to the newspapers the tanks and self-propelled howitzers would also be accompanied by four AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, this however, has not been confirmed by the government. This may be one of the most significant deliveries made by a NATO country since the beginning of the War in Ukraine. Not, however because of the amount of equipment declared but the technological level of the equipment. A Downing Street spokesperson said the government had “looked at the strategic impact of the UK’s support and identified a window where he thinks the UK and its allies can have maximum impact.”
At the beginning of January talks about the possible transfer of Challenger 2 MBTs took place. Various experts stated the advantages and disadvantages of such donations to Ukraine. One significant negative being the British tank’s high complexity, maintenance needs and its main gun’s proprietary ammunition. However, the British tank transfer is widely seen as an effort to encourage the transfer of Leopard 2 tanks, of which there are much larger numbers.
The reports regarding deliveries of AH-64 Apache was denied by UK officials who stated that no such decision was in place. The suggestion Apaches might be transferred was highly speculative information and discussion of it spread through social media rapidly. In spite of the recent deliveries being announced, the transfer of modern attack helicopters, able to provide strikes deep in Russian brigades’ zone of operations, would be a real game-changer in the discussion. But for now the UK will not transfer any of its AH-64s or Hellfire AGM missiles at this stage of the war, according to Newsweek.
The UK’s decision to transfer tanks corresponds to the latest decisions made by other European countries in regard to arms shipments to Ukraine. The country is in desperate need of heavy equipment to replenish the losses suffered during summer fighting against the Russian invasion forces. NATO capabilities have their limits, however, and the UK can only provide a small number of tanks, in the meantime discussion of deliveries of Leopard 2 continue.