The UK has confirmed the first loss of a Challenger 2 tank by Ukraine, saying it was “hit by Russian artillery.”

Speaking to Sky News on Wednesday morning, the UK's defence secretary Grant Shapps also confirmed the vehicle's crew had survived.

Video surfaced on social media early on Tuesday morning of a Ukrainian Challenger 2 burning at the side of the road believed to be south of the recently-liberated town of Robotyne.

A Kyiv Post analysis at the time concluded that the tank was in an area that had been subjected to heavy artillery fire. A stationary Ukrainian T-64 tank some 50-60 meters away had evidence of shell splinter damage in its side armor.

“I can confirm [a Challenger 2 was lost], Shapps said. “It was hit by Russian artillery and as they were trying to put out the resulting fire, it was hit again.

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“I can also confirm the six Ukrainians in the tank survived which is a great testament to this bit of British kit.”

Shapps said that at this time there were no plans to send a replacement, saying: “Look, we gifted 14 of these Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine. We accept that in a warzone there can be material losses which is what happened here.

“They’re got the 14 tanks – well, one fewer now – and we accept that in a military zone, this is the sort of thing that happens.

“But we’ll always keep what we’re providing the Ukrainians with under close review. I cannot stress enough that the UK’s security is bound up in what is happening just over there in Europe.”

ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 19, 2024
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ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 19, 2024

Latest from the Institute for the Study of War.

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.

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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).

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.

It is a main battle tank designed to defeat any combat vehicle it comes up against, carrying cutting edge “Dorchester” 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.

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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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