War monitors and several media outlets are reporting that for the first time since the Ukraine war began, a British Challenger 2 main battle tank has been confirmed destroyed.
"A battlefield video circulating on social media overnight appears to show the destruction of a British Challenger 2 in Ukraine, which would be the first time one of the tanks has been destroyed in combat," premier UK newspaper The Guardian writes.
"At the beginning of the video, filmed from a car trying to flee the fighting, the Challenger 2 with its distinctive gun barrel is seen shrouded in thick, grey smoke," the publication details. "It is unclear what has caused the blaze."
But given these foreign-supplied tanks are currently in front-line positions amid Ukraine's faltering counteroffensive, very likely the tank suffered a direct hit from Russian munitions or possibly a powerful drone.
Interestingly, UK media has made clear that up to this point no Challenger 2 tank has ever been lost in battle due to enemy forces since it entered production and was first deployed in 1994 (the exception was a friendly fire incident in Iraq in 2003).
As for the Challenger newly blown up on the Ukrainian battlefield, British military sources have confirmed the loss:
British defence sources said that despite the impact, the Ukrainian crew is believed to have survived. A typical crew is made up of four members, and unlike Russian equivalents, its ammunition is stored in separate compartments to try to prevent it from exploding if the tank takes a direct hit.
Experts confirmed the identity of the tank from the video. It is unclear exactly when and where it was filmed, though people are heard speaking in Ukrainian when they see a second immobilised tank.
Watch the rare close-up video below:
Destroyed Ukrainian Challenger 2 outside of Robotyne, most likely from the 82nd Air Assault Brigade. pic.twitter.com/KInjnmfs4F— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) September 5, 2023
The Challenger as well as Germany's Leopard tanks were among the first Western-supplied main battle tanks to appear in action against Russia, with M1 Abrams still on their way from the US and not believed to be deployed yet, also given Ukrainian operators and crews must undergo extensive training.
Very controversially, the UK has been sending depleted uranium armor-piercing rounds to Kiev, in order to fire them from the Challenger II tanks. The UK Defense Ministry last spring admitted that it "does not monitor the locations from where DU rounds are fired by the AFU in Ukraine."
🇬🇧 The first shots of the destroyed British tank Challenger 2. TG channels write that the video was shot near Rabotin in Zaporizhia. ❗️ It is important to note that this may not only be the first shots, but also the first case of the destruction of a Challenger tank in the world.… pic.twitter.com/nwD45PT9TV— Peacemaker (@peacemaket71) September 5, 2023
The Kremlin has since warned such a weapon will be treated as tantamount to using a nuclear dirty bomb, and that Russia reserves the right to respond accordingly. President Putin's decision to send tactical nukes to be hosted on Belarusian territory was reportedly related to the UK depleted uranium munitions.