Germany’s ‘Panther’ Tanks Compared to U.S. Abrams


US Marines drive an M1 Abrams to take part in an exercise to capture an airfield as part of the Trident Juncture 2018, a NATO-led military exercise, on November 1, 2018, near the town of Oppdal, Norway. Inset, a Panther tank in Germany in 1944. A German defense contractor is offering Panther tanks to help Ukraine fight Russia.JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/GETTY

The German defense contractor Rheinmetall is offering the powerful Panther military tanks to Ukraine, according to its CEO Armin Papperger.

Although it would take 15 to 18 months for delivery if the German government approves the export, arms experts told Newsweek that the announcement will further help galvanize Western allies while allowing the Ukrainian military to plan accordingly based on its present stock.

Previously, German-made Leopard 2 tanks and U.S.-made M1A2 Abrams tanks were announced to be sent to Ukraine over the next few months. Earlier this week, Leopard tanks shipped from Canada arrived in Poland and will make their way to Ukraine.

Papperger called the Panther tanks the most powerful in the world. The KF51 Panther debuted last summer during a military trade show in France. That Panther model is the successor to the Leopard 2 tank.

Popular Mechanics reported following the newest model’s unveiling that the shape of its hull “suggests newer, thicker armor along the front and sides.” Both the Panther and Leopard both have 1,100-kilowatt, 1,500 horsepower engines.

Jordan Cohen, policy analyst at the Cato Institute, touted the technological capabilities of the new model, notably its larger 130-millimeter cannon, ability to launch drones, top-down protection, and 360-degree sensors. The Abrams tank has a 120-millimeter gun and weaker sensors.

It is also lighter than the approximate 70-ton Abrams, coming in at about 59 tons.

The German publication Europäische Sicherheit & Technik reported the new gun’s barrel length is 52 times the diameter of the barrel—or 22.1 feet long.

Other features include a container for unmanned aerial vehicles, day and night vision observation, and enough room for a crew including a commander, gunner, driver and optional systems specialist.

“I am not sure if it could really outperform the most recent Abrams models, but I am also skeptical that the U.S is actually going to sell the v4 variant of the Abrams that has similar capabilities to the KF51 Panther,” Cohen told Newsweek. “Therefore, this is a very clear signal of what Germany is willing to send Ukraine should the conflict last more than 12 to 18 months.”

The Pentagon has stated that the U.S. is sending 31 M1A2 tanks to Ukraine as part of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.

Cohen referred to them as the “static” models that lack new, advanced meteorological sensors, laser warning and detection receivers, and directional smoke grenade launchers.

Ian Williams, deputy director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ (CSIS) Missile Defense Project, told Newsweek that the “bells and whistles” separate the Panther and Abrams.

Panther tanks are “bigger and have a little more punch and longer range,” he said, adding that the technological and industrial jump from the Leopard to the Panther tanks is bigger than the one between the Abrams and Panther.

“From the Ukrainian perspective I think it’s a good thing,” Williams said. “It is going to be a while before they start getting them, but it does allow the Ukrainians to be more thoughtful of how they use the current tanks…If you know where you’re going to be getting your next meal from, it helps with other things.”

CSIS senior adviser Mark Cancian told Newsweek that, if produced, the Panther would be more powerful than the M1A2SEPv3 Abrams model.

It may prove more beneficial to expend resources into the current Leopard tanks, he added.

“The conceptual Abrams ‘X’ would be the equivalent, though there is no current plan to produce that Abrams upgrade…Post-war Ukraine will need to standardize its equipment since it now has small numbers of many NATO systems,” Cancian said. “Panther—a new, complex, and expensive system—does not fit well with such a rationalization. Better to standardize around the latest version of the Leopard.”


  1. “…Rheinmetall is offering the powerful Panther military tanks to Ukraine…”

    I’m confident that Ukraine will get everything it needs. Just don’t ask me what year.

    “Post-war Ukraine will need to standardize its equipment since it now has small numbers of many NATO systems,”

    Ukraine needs that now. It’s nice to get all sorts of goodies from your friends, but what’s been happening is not a well-thought-out methodology to help Ukraine.
    What the allies should have done was to sit down together and discuss Ukraine’s most pressing needs and secondary needs, and come to an agreement on how much of what will be sent. It’s debatable if this should have happened before the war or after seeing that Ukraine is a very willing and very capable fighter.
    Instead, we had reluctance and then willingness, but only a limited one. What followed was a continuous but hesitant flow of arms with a wild variety of systems. Frankly, any country would be overwhelmed by the various types of requirement for operating and maintaining such a hodgepodge of stuff.
    Having said that, it would have been good to settle with one type of MBT. Now, they will eventually get 3 Western types, and if France joins in, it’ll be 4 and if … IF… the Panther really does get sent, which I doubt, it’ll be 5. Now, add the various Soviet models.
    It’ll be challenging, to say the least.

    • I hear ya Sir OFP too many ifs and not enough here it is.There has got to be a better way to coordinate who’s doing what and speed up the when with urgency. Also the how and where with logistics and maintenance. An internal problem I’ve heard of(not sure how wide spread) Is service men and women being put in units that don’t utilize their skills. Such as a pilot in the infantry, or a tanker in recon. I know it’s not always possible but figure the top 3 desired placements depending on experience should be more considered.

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