Politics Watch the NATO tank competition where the US lost to Austria and Germany

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"This is a competition, but it's not really about the competition," an officer said. "It's really about training, partnership, esprit de corps, and interoperability."

A tank platoon assigned to 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at the Strong Europe Tank Challenge on May 10. play

A tank platoon assigned to 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at the Strong Europe Tank Challenge on May 10.

(Photo by Sgt. Justin Geiger)
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For the second year in a row, a US armored brigade competed in the Strong Europe Tank Challenge against a range of European partners — and lost.

Austria, which didn't participate last year, took gold, while Germany came in second. The US came in third, but given the purpose of the challenge, that's nothing to be ashamed of.

"This is a competition, but it's not really about the competition," Sgt. Maj. David Glenn, 7th Army Training Command's operations senior noncommissioned officer, said in a US Army statement. "It's really about training, partnership, esprit de corps, and interoperability."

Because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine — one of the participating states — the competition takes on an air of seriousness beyond a medal or ranking. Russian forces in eastern Europe outnumber deployed NATO forces in the region, and the US has sought to bolster the smaller European states with ground forces and even F-35s.

See how the NATO and the Ukraine push themselves to stand ready against the looming threat of Russia:

Here's the Austrian Leopard 2A4 tank that ended up taking gold.

Here's the Austrian Leopard 2A4 tank that ended up taking gold. play

Here's the Austrian Leopard 2A4 tank that ended up taking gold.

(Photo by Spc. Javon Spence)

Crew: Four soldiers

Armament: 120 mm smoothbore, 2x 7.62 mm

Speed: 45 mph

Range: 310 miles

Length: 32 feet

Weight: 62.5 tons



Here's the German tank that competed, the Leopard 2A6.

Here's the German tank that competed, the Leopard 2A6. play

Here's the German tank that competed, the Leopard 2A6.

(US Army photo by Pfc. Javon Spence)

Crew: Four soldiers

Armament: 120 mm smoothbore, 2x 7.62 mm

Speed: 42 mph

Range: 310 miles

Length: 36 feet

Weight: 62 tons



Poland brought the Leopard 2A5.

Poland brought the Leopard 2A5. play

Poland brought the Leopard 2A5.

(US Army photo by Pfc. Emily Houdershieldt)

Crew: Four soldiers

Armament: 120 mm smoothbore, 2x 7.62 mm

Speed: 45 mph

Range: 310 miles

Length: 32 feet

Weight: 62.5 tons



France brought its domestically built Leclerc tank.

France brought its domestically built Leclerc tank. play

France brought its domestically built Leclerc tank.

(US Army photo by Spc. Javon Spence)

Crew: Three soldiers

Armament: 120 mm smoothbore, 1 x 12.7 mm, 1 x 7.62 mm

Speed: 45 mph

Range: 340 miles

Length: 32 feet

Weight: 57 tons



Ukraine brought the only Soviet-designed tank, the T-64BM, an update of a much older model that lacks some of NATO's newer technology but is battle hardened. Ukraine's T-64BM boasts a bigger main gun to pierce modern tank armor and was the only tank at the competition that brought explosive reactive armor plating, as it's used regularly against Russian separatists.

Ukraine brought the only Soviet-designed tank, the T-64BM, an update of a much older model that lacks some of NATO's newer technology but is battle hardened. Ukraine's T-64BM boasts a bigger main gun to pierce modern tank armor and was the only tank at the competition that brought explosive reactive armor plating, as it's used regularly against Russian separatists. play

Ukraine brought the only Soviet-designed tank, the T-64BM, an update of a much older model that lacks some of NATO's newer technology but is battle hardened. Ukraine's T-64BM boasts a bigger main gun to pierce modern tank armor and was the only tank at the competition that brought explosive reactive armor plating, as it's used regularly against Russian separatists.

(Photo by Spc. Javon Spence)

Crew: Three soldiers

Armament: 125 mm smoothbore, 1 x 12.7 mm, 1 x 7.62 mm<

Speed: 37 mph

Range: 310 miles

Length: 30 feet

Weight: 45 tons



Then there's the US's standby, the M1A2 Abrams. The Abrams was designed in the 1970s and has had some roaring successes in battle, but the competition has been catching up.

Then there's the US's standby, the M1A2 Abrams. The Abrams was designed in the 1970s and has had some roaring successes in battle, but the competition has been catching up. play

Then there's the US's standby, the M1A2 Abrams. The Abrams was designed in the 1970s and has had some roaring successes in battle, but the competition has been catching up.

(US Army photo by Pfc. Javon Spence)

Crew: Four soldiers

Armament: 120 mm smoothbore, 12.7 mm, 2x 7.62 mm

Speed: 41 mph on road, 25 mph off road

Range: 240 miles

Length: 32 feet

Weight: 62 tons



Like at any good military competition, there was an obstacle course.

Like at any good military competition, there was an obstacle course. play

Like at any good military competition, there was an obstacle course.

(Photo by Sgt. Justin Geiger)


But this is the so-called tank Olympics, so soldiers had to carry heavy tank rounds and ammo around the course.

But this is the so-called tank Olympics, so soldiers had to carry heavy tank rounds and ammo around the course. play

But this is the so-called tank Olympics, so soldiers had to carry heavy tank rounds and ammo around the course.

(Photo by Sgt. Justin Geiger)


Crew members had to dismount their tanks to engage several targets during the combat pistol shoot-off at Grafenwoehr Training Area.

Crew members had to dismount their tanks to engage several targets during the combat pistol shoot-off at Grafenwoehr Training Area. play

Crew members had to dismount their tanks to engage several targets during the combat pistol shoot-off at Grafenwoehr Training Area.

(Photo by Sgt. Justin Geiger)


Then the tanks faced off in an obstacle course of their own, though they seemed less concerned about the obstacles.



Here's Ukraine's battle-tested tank sounding off at the range.



But it's not all shooting — soldiers train for realistic battle scenarios, like having to repair a tank tread ...



... or taking care of the wounded — in this case, dummies.

... or taking care of the wounded — in this case, dummies. play

... or taking care of the wounded — in this case, dummies.

(DvidsHub.net)


In a way, everyone won, because NATO and the Ukraine improved their interoperability and ability to defeat or deter Russian aggression. But in a precise way, Austria won, Germany came in second, and the US was third. Better luck next year.

A tank platoon assigned to 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. play

A tank platoon assigned to 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

(Photo by Sgt. Justin Geiger)