Samstag, 21. Januar 2017

Leopard 2 in Syria - part 2


Yesterday a new video was released by ISIS terrorists showing a bunch of destroyed main battle tanks (MBTs) and armored personnel carriers (APCs) near the Syrian city of Al-Bab. This video however has proven something, that I understimated a certain weapon. Not anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), not improvised explosive devices (IEDs). A much older weapon: propaganda. The same weapon that turned the Tiger heavy tank - a rather mediocre design of it's time - to a supposed super tank, that still is being worshipped by some individuals today. However the propaganda worked, invoking a Tiger-phobia on the side of the allies.

Now, what exaclty has happened? A new video showing the exact same area that the first few videos were showing. The destroyed or damaged tanks are probably all identical to the tanks already shown in earlier videos, that have been covered by numerous news articles and blogs. Still some people start writing articles in a sort of kneejerk reaction, claiming that these are newly defeated tanks and that the Turkish Army is just poorly trained or the Leopard 2 is a poorly designed tank, incapable of competing on the same level as the tanks of other countries (even though this is not tank-vs-tank warfare...). This again leads to people to come and reply or spread the articles, which are pushing for their own agenda. "The T-90 is so much better, only one was penetrated!", "All people who think the Leopard 2 is a good are Nazi-tank fanboys" and "The Abrams/Challenger 2/T-84 is an inpenetratable super tank". People love to ignore the fact that the Turkish Leopard 2A4 is fitted with out-dated armor, possibly still the first generation of armor technology introduced with the original Leopard 2 in 1979. The fact that the Turkish Army was purged after the failed coup attempt - in which most tank units were equipped with Leopard 2A4 tanks - is intentionally ignored.

So what exactly has happened to the Leopard 2 in the past month in Syria? Well, apparently not much in that area. ISIS was only interested in spreading images from already destroyed tanks - this might mean that there are no newer encounters that were video-taped.

Leopard 2 tank wrecks in Syria
The first Leopard 2A4 tanks of the Turkish Army were destroyed or at least disabled in combat already in December. Above are screenshots from one of the very first combat encounters, below are captures from two different propaganda videos - all showing the same two destroyed tanks. Well that's propaganda, pretending (by using different camera positions and filming on different days) to have destroyed six tanks, while in reality only two were destroyed (or rather one was destroyed, while one was apparently rendered immobile and abandoned).

An ATGM penetrated the roof of this tank
The image above shows a tank was hit by an ATGM at the roof. There are at least three different scenes from different videos showing this tank. It actually might be four, but the image quality of one is so bad, that it couldn't be clarified without doubt. This shows again how the terrorists' propaganda tries to inflate kill numbers in an attempt to demoralize the enemy. They supposedly even filmed the tank at different times of the day, so that the mood of light changed.

Blowing up captured tanks
The terrorists are known to have captured up to three tanks, of which one had a track issue. So what to do with a tank that cannot be utilized by the own forces? Blow it up in a propaganda video, pretending that it was an enemy tank destroyed in combat.

Victims of a large explosion: airstrike or blown up after being abandoned
Supposedly at least one captured tank was destroyed by an airstrike from a Turkish F-16. A photo showing a Leopard 2A4 with turret popped of the hull was shared on Twitter in December 2016. While it is not exactly confirmed that this tank is one of the two destroyed tanks above, all vehicles in above photo show damaga typical for airstirkes or large explosive charges being placed inside the vehicle. This can be seen by locking at the front of the Otokar APV (engine compartment blown off) and the excessive damage caused to the frontal Leopard 2.
One can only speculate about the exact fate of this tanks. Were they abandoned and then destroyed by an airstrike? Were they captured by ISIS and then destroyed by Turkish forces? Did the terrorist blow them up for a propaganda video?

Overview with text by militaysta
That's why speculating about how awful or how good some military unit perform just based on photos of wrecks doesn't make sense. Who knows how many hits the tank took before ending there? Or maybe the tanks didn't even take any damage but broke down before combat. Who would know based on a wreck of a tank?
Snafu Solomon reblogged an interesting article from DieselPunkIsDad on survivability bias. While this term doesn't exactly apply to the topic, it clearly shows the same problem: people are judging the peformance of a combat vehicle, a military unit or even a whole nation based on a biased subset of encounters. The Battle of Crete was a horrible failure from the perspective of the Nazi-German Army, which abandoned the tactics of airborne invasion via paratroopers after it. From the perspective of the Allies, who were unaware of the German losses, the airborne invasion was suddenly a highly effective tool of warfare - that happens when only a subset of data is considered. How many videos out there are showing an Iraqi or a Saudi Abrams tank getting hit by an ATGM, while sitting in the open without (mechanized/motorized) infantry support? Everytime such a video appears, someone comments on how bad said vehicle/persons are doing and how they are essentially getting slaughtered. What is ignored in this context is that the terrorists will only show your successful attacks - that's how propaganda works. But how many times do their attacks fail by missing the target, failing to penetrate the armor or being discovered and killed?

Older informations on Turkish losses via Reddit

So what is the conclusion of this post? Well, probably that one should keep calm and take some time to think about what is shown by a source and what the motivation for showing this is. Based on the videos and earlier reports of Turkish losses, there seem to be no recently destroyed tanks at this specific area near Al-Bab. This could have several different reasons, but speculations without sources won't lead to much.
According to older Turkish sources, a total of ten Leopard 2A4 tanks, one M60T Sabra and four other vehicles were disabled or destroyed in the area around Al-Bab. One Leopard 2 had an issue with the tracks and the situation of one tank is unknown (supposedly this tank is among the ones captured by ISIS). Two tanks were damaged by IEDs, one of them heavily. A further tank was damaged by a mortar attack, while the other five Leopard 2A4 tanks were damaged by ATGMs - back then not a single tank was listed as destroyed by ATGMs. Earlier sources from about a week before the losses were leaked/published via Twitter claim that fifteen M60T Sabra tanks, three M60 tanks and three Leopard 2A4 were hit by ATGMs. One of the M60 tanks and three Sabras were total losses. Supposedly ten soldiers died in Turkish tanks at this time. The fact that no new tank wrecks appeared in the area from Al-Bab doesn't mean that Turkey hasn't lost more tanks since then - but it also doesn't directly confirm any losses at other places.

Turkish sources claim that between the 8th and 18th January 192 air raids and firing 2,196 rounds of artillery, tank and mortar ammunition resulted in the death of 1,362 enemies, a further 168 were wounded. As always these claims haver to be taken with a grain of salt, as there is no proof for any of these claims and kill figures of airstrikes and artillery are known to be exaggerated quite often. Still if true, one shouldn't pretend that the Turkish Army is so bad and the "Arabs are horrible at war" meme applies (not to mention that technically Turks aren't Arabs). Yes, the first Leopard 2 tanks were employed in a horrible way and thus destroyed. But maybe at least some common NATO training standards are met and result in some better performance after the initial shock.

Kommentare:

  1. A tool is only as good as its user, which is the same for the military.

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  2. Well, they just never listen. Leopard 2A4 not only outdated armor but also not design to fight in urban combat. That's why many company offer an armor package and APS for Urban Combat and open terrain combat but as all we know that they(like Saudi and Turkey) given the same excuse..... expensive. But wait.... that's another excuse for not having an APS or Armor Package Upgrade on tanks: Air defense. All talk about Air Defense. There are everywhere. However, they always changing topics but if you guys talk about this front of them you might end up in jail.

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  3. Great analysis: very well done ; compliments from Italy. Very very well done. Did you ever made an analysis of italian Ariete? ( I know tha it is not that good but still much much better then russian tanks)

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  4. Excellent analysis, many points are based upon adequate reasoning and proofs that are very compelling. Unfortunately many people with their own political bias would rather buy those hoax than using reasonable thinking…

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    1. Actually there's no proof at all. Janes posted a satellite image with 6 Leopards in that area. Yeah...maybe big shot that runs this page should have waited instead of running his mouth.

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    2. So what's the different between that satellite image and the last image shown in the article? I can clearly see that here are 1 tanks marked as destroyed, 1 as mobile kill, and other 4 were marked as captured in that image.

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    3. The satellite image shows a 7th Leopard 2 and the sequence in which ISIS attacked the turkish forces. The image around the Al Bab Hospital shows only 4 Leopards. There are 7 leopards in the whole area. All have been taken out.

      The other very interesting thing is that the owner of this blog doesn't understand the words he employs. A captured tank blown up by the OPFOR is INDEED DESTROYED in COMBAT. Propaganda aside, these tanks are still ON damn field, they had not been recovered as far as the 22nd of January. This means that the tanks are losses, no matter how you or the author tries to spin this.

      Also These images go directly against the claim that protection, instead of sheer luck were at the core of the M60T survival when it was hit by Kornet. M60T was hit at thickest part of turret by Konkurs and it penetrated. While most probably was aimed at least vital part because of angle and went through the optical channel without doing much damage (apart wounding TC).

      The satellite image shows that instead of "multiple shots of the "same tanks", they're actually well more than 2 or 4 tanks hit by ISIS.

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    4. Where is the sources of exact missile model and damage report you claimed so far?

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    5. Actually, the author wrote a article analysis the case which M60T survived from Knornet attack. It explained well.
      >>http://below-the-turret-ring.blogspot.ca/2016/05/about-that-m60t-which-survived-kornet.html

      As u said, the survial case is a sheer luck while the one penetrated by Konkurs(AT-5) can be treated as sheer unlucky.

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  5. Are we even sure that it is ISIS that destroyed/fired at the tanks? If the shots where fired from behind turkish lines, couldn´t been turkish troops firing to knock out abandoned tanks? And all talks about penetration of tanks are ridicoulus! The question is how much damage to the tank and crew that the penetration achived! And these Leopards where hit with ATGM either from the same era as the tanks or newer, so a penetration is quite likely. It isn´t as a big blunder as when a Challenger 2 where penetrated frontally by, I think, an RPG and the driver lost his foot and forced the brits to add extra armour to the front ...

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    1. Dieser Kommentar wurde vom Autor entfernt.

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    2. Uhm, where do I state that only one RPG had been shoot? I said that one RPG hit frontally and penetrated with damage to the driver. And regarding armour, most tanks are a compromised of some sort and the Challanger 2 seems to have compromised some armour and the Leo 2 others. And no, this incident I was refering to was *not* that the driver lost two toes. It was an earlier incident and the driver lost part of his foot and two other crewmen where injured. Look it up on Wikipedia or read about it here : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1551418/MoD-kept-failure-of-best-tank-quiet.html

      Theproblem seems to have been that the rpg hit low enough to bypass the ERA on the lower front hull but not low enough to miss anything important. So it was a problem with a "protection glap" near the hull floor. The brits solved this by replacing the ERA with Choblam style armour on the lower front.

      Either way, all tanks have compromises and weak spots in the armour. The real issue is what happends to the tank when these weak spots are hit.

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    3. Dont need to look it up on wiki.....

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  6. What a bunch of bullshit?

    We know now for sure by satellite images that at least 6 Leopards are in the area...https://twitter.com/JeremyBinnie/status/824959410841743362

    We also know that two other leopards were hit about 4 km from there. We also know that another Leopard was hit with Metis-M two days ago.

    As for the rest:

    1. Leopard 2A4 were built new for the Netherlands. The Dutch Leopards are exactly the same as the Turkish one, I can provide you pictures. Turkish Leopards come, for about 2/3rds from Batch 5 and 6 of the Leopard 2 (first and second batch of Leopard 2A4 std) built for the German Army. Which were built from 1987 to 1988. They have tungsten and titanium inserts in their turret's frontal armour.

    2. All hits were in areas that are traditionally weak and overexposed on western tanks (Turret bustle). More armour there wouldn't change much. The ATGM's used penetrate far more than what you could add.

    3. ISIS has never presented this video as "new" tanks, it's an battle aggregate with IED's, ATGM's and executions. It's called Between Two states: Grants and Tribulations. Wilayat Halab. This is only an excerpt from that video.

    4. You are trying to defend a lost case here. The Leopard 2, Abrams, Challenger all have that issue and it is a calculated compromise. Like it or not your opinion isn't supported by any fact so far.

    All tanks have been engaged and disabled. This is because Most of these tanks schematics are on the freaking internet since ages. The only thing required is patience and a good ATGM operator.

    Please don't invent things you don't know. It's pathetic.

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    1. Dieser Kommentar wurde vom Autor entfernt.

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    2. First of all, the twitter link you gave here didn’t bring any new information from the article we had already read here. The article had shown clearer images than your twitter link. Furthermore, at the end of article, the author clearly state that. The only leaking damage & casualty report show that there is no total loss record of Leopard tank at the date of article published.
      As we know the poor training crew abandoned their tank after get hit is quite common, no matter whether the vehicle are still operational. A similar event occurred back to the Mar, 2016 when a T-90 tank get shot by the TOW missile from front area, the tank survive the hit. There is no fuel/ammunition ignition but the crew abandoned the tank immediately after hit happened.
      >>https://warisboring.com/what-a-t-90-tank-looks-like-after-being-hit-by-a-tow-missile-3c1cbeddc65f#.3ejp1qhz7

      1. Apparently you are not even able to differentiate the meaning of “build new” & “new design”. If you insist that 1988-designed Leopard2A4 are state-of-art model of leopard family I have no idea whether you have knowledge about newer model after the post-cold war era. The Turkish Leopard model were partly resold by Netherlands in 2007(that’s the reason why Turk and Netherland own the same model), other part were purchased from German army stock.
      I save your time for the pics and give you following links for development history of Leopard 2 family. Just in case you’re confusing with the variant models
      >>http://tanknutdave.com/the-german-leopard-2-series/
      >>http://www.militaryfactory.com/armor/detail.asp?armor_id=37
      The newest Leopard model Netherland operated was 2A6, they also owned 300+ 2A5. Concurrently all of those models were sold to the NATO allies or dissolved as result of budget cut.

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    3. 2. This point had been repeatedly empathized by the authors and military engineers from the world. That’s the reason why many countries invest millions on Active protection system and new generation energy/non-explosive reactive armor.
      >>https://below-the-turret-ring.blogspot.ca/2017/01/hardkill-aps-overview
      http://below-the-turret-ring.blogspot.ca/2016/07/qinetiq-to-test-muss-aps-for-british

      3. When they published the video that repeatedly playing the “destruction scene” by using different ammunition, from different perspective position aimed at same tank, people are easily fooled. ISIS just try to exaggerated their combat achievement by using propaganda way. It’s old trick used by all the military & political powers through the history, however the modern information technology just enlarge its effect.

      4. It’s a lost case for sure, but I didn’t find any “defend” or “bias” from the article. The author just try to use some logic thinking and evidence to help those people who are lacking military knowledge identifying these hoaxes. You are the one just intentionally ignore those facts for unknown reasons.

      I had read many articles since this blog open, apparently the author has much richer sources & experiences in armor vehicle field. His articles had been approved and referred by many defense forums. I’m afraid that you need do more research than just using a twitter link and pissing off language against author.

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    4. 1. Actually the Tweet I gave shows exactly how ISIS attacked the area and which Leopards fell first. It started South-West of Hospital and went all the way up to North -West where they attacked the Hospital itself with SVBIED's.

      2. What clearer images had the article shown? The Article spoke of TOW2A, which is very difficult to miss, since its flight path is totally different from Soviet and Russian ATGM's. Actually the fact those Leopards are still on the field shows exactly that. These Leopards are still losses. Like it or not.

      The T-90-1992 that was hit by TOW was recovered from the field and repaired. The difference is that while those T-90's were operated by an IRGC militia, these here are operated by Specialists of the Turkish Army. It's not some guys that Iran picks in Afghanistan to get killed in Syria.


      Only 1 T-90 that was abandoned was taken by FSA and it moved under its own power. Here every Leopard had been rendered inoperable mostly by damage inside the fighting compartment. 2 tanks suffering secondary detonation at the ammunition rack.

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    5. And then he writes this : "and the excessive damage caused to the frontal Leopard 2."

      That excessive damage is normal, since there you find the second ammunition rack for the tank, with about 20 rounds ready to use. So if that rack goes off, the likely result will be structural tear around the left frontal joint. It doesn't need an airstrike or even explosives to be destroyed like that, it only needs an penetrating hit and a secondary detonation inside the rack.

      So While I do believe that tank was hit by something powerful, that doesn't mean it's only sabotage or airstrike.

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    6. That's point u missed here. According to all the videos with ATGM flight and hit scene ISIS published so far, none of directly missile attack causing such "excessive damage".
      The video with blowed up Leopard have nothing related to HEAT denotation. You make such assumption without any evidence here. Do you realy think ISIS would likely to missed this "most pompousness tank destroyed part" for their propaganda mission ??

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    7. BTW, the TOW2A still use primitive wire-guide mode, the guide mode used be common among first generation ATGM. I was used to wonder why Shtora didn't work against missile, since the missile directly strike in front coverage area of soft-kill APS.

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    8. And that's the exactly poor training Turkish army Im talking about. If you know some military history of Turkey, u would understand how bad of their military force quality.

      1.During the invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Turkey force clashed with Greek force deployed on the island. Turkish air force misidentified their own warship as Greece’s. After a “fierce fighting”, Turkey lost its own Kocatepe destroyer and damaged 2 others, total 232 solider been killed. Also one of Turkish F-104 had been shot down by its own navy, reported as “successfully take down Greek fighter”.

      2.Another hilarious case is that an army flag shown in the Turkish museum for Korean War is claimed as “captured from Chinese People's Volunteers Army”. But the flag apparently belong to the Nationalist China before been driven out from mainland by communist force.
      >>https://www.quora.com/Why-is-it-that-Turkey-captured-a-ROC-flag-in-Korean-war

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  7. Good post....thanks for sharing.. very useful for me i will bookmark this for my future needs. Thanks. Complete Set of Desktop on Rent

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