NATO is holding an armored weapons competition in Latvia to test the capabilities of armored units

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dated: 2022-11-20 03:56:36 .

RIGA, Latvia – Although tanks have shown their limitations in the war in Ukraine, they are still the heart of the battlefield, Capt. Antonio Cornacchi of the Italian armed forces told the Canadian Press on Thursday.

Cornacchi is in charge of the armored gunnery competition involving troops from 13 NATO countries – including Canada – held over four days at the Adazi base, which is about 200 kilometers from the Russian border and a 45-minute drive from Riga, the member capital. NATO Latvia.

The military exercises – called Iron Spear – involve the NATO multinational battle group eFP Latvia, which serves as both a deterrent and a shield in the event of an attack.

Thirty-four crews from 13 NATO armies are testing the tank’s capability and maneuverability as debate rages over the importance of armored vehicles in light of the setbacks suffered by Russian armored units in the invasion of Ukraine.

Cornacchi said the tanks are “very competitive” in exercises that involve firing on the move or from fixed positions.

“Light infantry is also important for our army, but tanks … remain the focus,” Cornacchi, an Italian combat company commander, said in an interview.

On Thursday, NATO crews competed in the most accurate tank shots possible on a field of hills and paths of several square kilometers. Shots from tank guns larger than 100 millimeters caused deafening explosions in the observation deck bunker where a jury composed of Italians and representatives of other NATO countries was evaluating the exercises.

The jury is there to “test the skills of each crew in a highly professional manner,” Cornacchi said. So far, he added, Estonian, Danish and Canadian soldiers have done “very well” during the competition. But he said there will be more competition.

“It’s just the first step and we’ll see what happens.”

British and Polish soldiers maneuvered around the perimeter on Thursday morning and fired, some on the move, others from fixed positions. Members of other NATO countries watched their colleagues from the roof of the bunker as they battled the humidity and bitter cold.

The Canadian unit competed with its German-made Leopard tanks, a model used by Canadian forces during the war in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, tank battles are commonplace in Ukraine, but new weapons threaten the tank’s dominance on the battlefield, including drones and an arsenal of anti-tank missiles supplied by Ukraine’s western allies. Among the weapons is the Javelin – which has become a symbol of the Ukrainian war – a terrifying American-made anti-tank missile. Javelins are small, easy to use and wreak havoc on Russian armored units.

The Ukrainian army released several videos of Russian tank turrets bursting like champagne corks, Javelin strikes and other anti-tank missiles: Nlaw, Himars or Carl Gustavs. For its part, Canada donated 100 M2 Carl Gustav to the Ukrainian armed forces.

Just over 100 years after its invention, the heavy, expensive and unwieldy tank – highly visible on the battlefield and sometimes vulnerable – still plays a key role in NATO’s defense arsenal.

This Canadian Press report was first published on November 18, 2022.

— Patrice Bergeron is a Quebec reporter at The Canadian Press. With two decades of political and informational experience, in 2009 he was a CP war reporter from Afghanistan.

Patrice Bergeron, The Canadian Press

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NATO is holding an armored weapons competition in Latvia to test the capabilities of armored units

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