Ukraine appears to have lost its first British-supplied Challenger 2 tank, after video surfaced on social media early on Tuesday morning of one of the vehicles burning at the side of the road believed to be south of the recently-liberated town of Robotyne.

It was not clear how the British tank was destroyed. Video reviewed by Kyiv Post analysts suggested the Challenger 2 was in an area that had been subjected to active artillery fire.

A stationary Ukrainian T-64 tank some 50-60 meters away had evidence of shell splinter damage in its side armor.

The only other publicly-known incident of a Challenger 2 tank being taken out in combat was in Basra, Iraq in 2003 when two members of a British tank crew were killed and two critically injured in a friendly fire incident.

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Ukraine’s Challenger 2 tanks are operated solely by the “ridiculously powerful” 82nd Air Assault Brigade, currently believed to be in action in the western Zaporizhzhia region where Kyiv’s forces have reported recent counteroffensive success in breaching Russian defenses.

Ukrainian forces made tactically significant advances in the western Zaporizhzhia Region on Monday, according to the Institute for the Study of War.

The ISW published geolocated footage on Sept. 4, showing Ukrainian forces advancing south of Robotyne (9 kilometers south of Orikhiv) and west of Verbove (18 kilometers southeast of Orikhiv).

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Fighters of the Ukrainian Third Assault Brigade entered the dugouts where the Russian military was hiding and engaged in close combat, resulting in the capture of three Russian soldiers.

The news that Ukraine has lost its first Challenger comes just two days after Kyiv released a video extolling the prowess of the weapon system which one operator describes as “a sniper rifle among tanks.” 

He adds: “It undoubtedly set a world record when it hit a T-55 from a distance of more than five kilometers.

“You’re basically just scaring the Russians with the sound of the engine.

First produced in the 1990s and continuously updated, the Challenger has operated successfully in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. 

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It is a main battle tank designed to defeat any combat vehicle it comes up against, carrying cutting edge “Chobham” layered armor, modern optics and the L30 120mm rifled main armament.

The Challenger 2 is the most advanced tank in the AFU inventory and a massive upgrade over the approximately 350 Soviet-era T-72 tanks Ukraine has received from Poland, the Czech Republic and Macedonia since the Russian invasion on Feb. 24 2022.

But Kyiv has only received 14 of the tanks and currently operates far more of the German-made Leopard tank, individually inferior to the Challenger in terms of protection and firepower. It is likely that Ukraine will be able to field around 165 Leopards when all those pledged have been delivered.

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