Battle of Al-Bab: The destruction of Turkish Leopard-2a4 tanks

In this article, we will try to recall the events that led to the destruction of numerous Turkish Leopard-2A4 tanks during the battle of Al-Bab in Syria, which took place between November 6, 2016, and February 23, 2017.

Battle of Al-Bab: The destruction of Turkish Leopard-2a4 tanks
The destruction of a Turkish Leo2A4 Tank during the battle for Al-Bab

The Turkish Second Armored Brigade, which took part in the Al Bab operation, lost about 10 Leopard 2 tanks to the jihadists who were protecting the area.

However, it is believed, according to unconfirmed information, that two Turkish Leopard-2A4 tanks were also captured in almost excellent condition and were destroyed by air raids later.

The exact circumstances that led to the destruction of all the tanks are still unknown, but the Turkish tanks went largely unprotected by infantry and did not make the slightest effort to cover their sides against the town where the enemy forces were located, something that certainly indicates a serious tactical error.

The specific mistakes in the handling of the Leopard-2A4 by the Turkish armored command can be seen in several videos published by the terrorists during the battle of Al-Bab.

The Leopard-2A4 (LEO2A4) tank has fairly weak side armor, and unlike other tanks, the Leopard 2A4 does not have reactive armor to protect against high-explosive ammunition (HEAT), which was a significant disadvantage on the battlefield of Al-Bab.

Battle of Al-Bab: The destruction of Turkish Leopard-2a4 tanks
Austrian Leopard 2A4 By böhringer Friedrich – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5

During the research for the creation of this article in GEOPOLITIKI, we saw many videos that showed the main reason for this huge defeat of the Turkish army, which was the incompetence of the Turkish army.

The crews of the Turkish tanks were as if they were outside for a picnic, they were talking and walking outside the tanks at about 2 km from the enemy forces.

A typical example is that, in almost all cases, no one noticed the firing of the guided anti-tank missiles (ATGM) that targeted their tanks.

After the first hit, the Turkish crews, who were supposed to be experienced and well-trained, froze in fear and did nothing to stop the second missile from hitting them. The only thing they did was panic and try to cover away from enemy fire, but they seem to forgot to save their tanks.

In almost all cases, there was no suppressive fire from the other tanks or armored vehicles, and they didn’t even try to remove the Leopard-2A4 tanks or turn on the smoke screens.

The Turkish tanks that had not been struck did not return a single shot, as a result of which they were bombarded with anti-tank missiles one after another.

Battle of Al-Bab: The destruction of Turkish Leopard-2a4 tanks
Location of Al-Bab | Google Maps – GEOPOLITIKI

These tragic mistakes, combined with the weak armor in some parts of the Leopard 2A4 designed for a different type of battle, led to the destruction of about ten Turkish tanks by the ATGM’s, which since then has convinced many foreign defense analysts that the Leopard 2A4 has begun to show their age.

It should be emphasized, of course, that the lessons from Al-Bab led to the Turkish military making significant changes to these tanks, which reduced the likelihood of them being destroyed in combat.

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