Update (0600 EST, 6SEP23):
U.K. Defense Minister Grant Shapps has confirmed the authenticity of the below video. In an interview with Sky News he said:
“It may be the first loss, as far as we’re aware… We gifted 14 of these Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine. We accept that in the war zone, there can be material losses.” He did clarify that the tank was hit by artillery and all six if the crew members survived.
He also added that London does not plan to replace the vehicle. He then claimed that at least four of the fourteen delivered Leopard II’s may have been destroyed since the beginning of the counter offensive.
In January 2023, the United Kingdom announced it would deliver fourteen Challenger II Main Battle Tanks to Ukraine. Those tanks arrived in mid-March and Ukrainian troops had been training intensively abroad and at home on how to operate them.
However, not until June 2023, were the first Challenger II’s spotted on the battlefield during Ukraine’s counteroffensive into Zaporizhia Oblast. Moments ago, military bloggers published what they are claiming is the first recorded incident of a Challenger II destroyed on the battlefield.
Destroyed Ukrainian Challenger 2 outside of Robotyne, most likely from the 82nd Air Assault Brigade. pic.twitter.com/KInjnmfs4F
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) September 5, 2023
This video was reportedly sent in from the Robotyne front where Ukrainian troops have liberated the settlement and are now working South towards Tokmak. The Zaporizhzia front, which began in earnest in June 2023, was defined by long columns of U.S.-supplied Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles and other Western light armored vehicles. It seems up until now that Ukrainian commanders were holding tight reigns on their valuable Western Main Battle Tanks. As demonstrated by the significant loss of Russian MBTs earlier in the war, these platforms can be a great tool, but also a great target for loitering munitions and coordinated airstrikes.
Images of burnt out Western MBTs are sure to make the rounds on Russian social media, but also American media where voices in the upper echelons of American government are openly questioning continued support.