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The Leopard 2 is a modern battle tank that first entered service in Germany in the late 1970s and is now used by around 20 countries.David Smith/The Canadian Press

Defence Minister Anita Anand says Canada is sending four of its Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine. Here is what you need to know:

What are Leopard 2s?

The Leopard 2 is a modern battle tank that first entered service in Germany in the late 1970s and is now used by around 20 countries. Featuring heavy armour and a main gun with good speed, the Leopard is designed to move fast, strike hard and survive on the modern battlefield. The basic design has been upgraded numerous times since it was introduced to add better armour, weaponry, digital technology and other modern features. Some have also been modified for non-combat purposes such as recovering disabled tanks from the battlefield and engineering tasks like carrying mobile bridges.

How many Leopard 2s does the Canadian military have?

The Canadian Army currently has 112 Leopard 2s in its inventory. These include 82 designed primarily for combat, as well as 12 that are configured to recover disabled tanks from the battlefield and 18 that can be used for building bridges and other engineering tasks. Of the 82 main battle tanks, 42 are Leopard 2A4s, while 20 2A4Ms that include better mine protection and upgraded digital technology than the 2A4s. The remaining 20 are 2A6Ms, which include an upgraded cannon and better all-around protection.

What type of Leopard 2 is Canada donating?

Canada is donating 2A4s. These are the most basic and numerous. Chief of the defence staff Gen. Wayne Eyre on Thursday said the Canadian Army uses the tanks for training, but they are combat-capable. Poland and Finland are among the countries donating the same variant, which the government says will help the Ukrainians operate and maintain them.

Where are Canada’s Leopard 2s coming from?

It is not clear. Most of the 82 main battle tanks are divided between three squadrons. These squadrons are supposed to have 19 tanks each, which are comprised of four troops of four tanks with a headquarters unit of three tanks. Two of the squadrons are with the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) in Edmonton. The other is with the Royal Canadian Dragoons in CFB Gagetown, N.B. The Royal Canadian Armoured Corps School in Gagetown also has about a dozen Leopards that are used to train tank crews and mechanics, while a handful are located at a repair and maintenance depot in Montreal.

How and when will the Leopard 2s get to Ukraine?

Eyre said the 62-tonne tanks will be flown to Europe on board C-17 Globemasters in the coming weeks. They will need to be flown one at a time because of their weight. The government is sending military trainers to teach the Ukrainian military how to use the Leopards, as well as spare parts and ammunition. It has also left the door open to future donations.

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