Dhe words with which the Elysée announced the latest arms delivery to Ukraine on Wednesday evening were not lacking in punch. It is Western-style tanks that France is now supplying, said an employee of the French President. It was a premiere, no doubt, but is it also a revolution? The AMX-10RC promised by Emmanuel Macron to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a reconnaissance tank.
This is a Western type of tank, which Ukraine has not yet used to defend itself against the Russian aggressor. Germany has already delivered anti-aircraft gun tanks, armored recovery vehicles and armored bridge-laying vehicles. More are to follow, as well as mine clearance and engineer tanks. However, they are not suitable for combat on the ground, especially against armored forces, or at best only to a very limited extent like the cheetah.
The AMX-10RC is a French Army weapon system that is five decades old and is currently being superseded by its successor, the Jaguar. The reconnaissance tank, which is now to be delivered to Kyiv, drives on wheels and has heavy armor, but above all it has a 105 mm gun.
Movable but robust
With its combination of mobility, armor, and heavy main weapon system, the AMX-10RC represents a reinforcement that Ukraine desperately needs. Because in order to have a chance to switch from trench warfare to more extensive offensive operations, the Ukrainian army is dependent on more fast armored forces than it has at its disposal.
It is “a very good all-terrain vehicle and the perfect watchdog to accompany armored personnel carriers and support infantry on the ground,” is how Marc Chassillan, a French engineer and specialist in military ground equipment, assesses the vehicle’s merits to Le Monde newspaper . However, the AMX-10RC is not intended for direct tank-to-tank combat, as it is not a main battle tank like the Leclerc or its German counterpart, the Leopard 2. These are tracked, have stronger armor and have a cannon with an even larger caliber.
On the other hand, the AMX-10RC surpasses the combat value of a conventional infantry fighting vehicle like the German Marder, which is about the same age. The Marder now also has anti-tank weapons, but with its 20 millimeter automatic cannon it is primarily intended for fast transport and fire support for tank infantry. The Bradley also falls into this category. In addition to the AMX-10RC, Ukraine could soon receive this US infantry fighting vehicle. America’s President Joe Biden said yes to a question Wednesday night about whether he was considering making the Bradley available. However, he did not promise battle tanks for the Ukraine either.
Germany does not have the option of supplying a reconnaissance tank. The Bundeswehr decommissioned its last lynxes in 2009. They were mostly scrapped or made into exhibits in museums and barracks. However, the Ukraine continues to hope for German leopards, as well as for martens. As of Thursday, the federal government had refused to supply Ukraine in both cases. The motto of the Leopard continued to be that nobody else delivers a Western tank with such a high combat value. With the Marder, the argument has now been invalidated by the AMX-10RC.
The industry has stocks of leopards and martens of different ages that could be modernized and made available – if the political will is there. However, that was before the recent crisis of the Puma, the successor to the Marder in the Bundeswehr. After the mass failure of 18 of these modern armored personnel carriers in the meantime, its combat suitability is in question. Marders have now been activated for the VJTF NATO Rapid Response Force. Nevertheless, the federal government announced a “qualitative step” in deliveries on Thursday. This could mean the martens.