German Army will receive Leopard 2A8 tanks, not the Leopard 2A7+
BERLIN, GERMANY — The German army may experience an unexpected renaissance because of the war in Ukraine. We know that it is this war that has caused dozens of countries to think about renewing their military platforms. Berlin believes that the German army should not be an exception to this pattern. Thus, for the first time since 1992, the German army will most likely receive a brand new main battle tank.
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However, it will not be the Leopard 2A7+ as was recently claimed. It is not known if it will also be the Rheinmetall KF-51 Panther tank. However, it seems that Berlin will place the first order for the latest modification of its famous Leopard. This is the Leopard 2A8.
According to a French source, Berlin is preparing an order for Krauss-Maffei Wegmann [KMW] – the manufacturer of Leopard tanks. The order includes the replacement of 18 Leopard 2A6 tanks donated to Ukraine. They should be replaced by the Leopard 2A8. The order writes the French source, will come with a framework agreement. It will include an additional clause for a possible order “of a three-digit number of Leopard 2A8 tanks”.
Version 2A8 is little known but has been around since mid-2020. This tank will be developed from another tank – Leopard 2A7HU. These are Hungarian Leopards and Budapest ordered 44 units nearly five years ago. Leopard 2A8 will have a new engine and active protection system. 2A8 will actually have to serve as a more advanced version of the board.
This is good news for Germany, but bad news for France. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that there is a Franco-German project for a main battle tank. However, Germany will apparently solve the problem with its aging Leopards. At the same time, Paris has to replace at least 160 obsolete Leclerc tanks. Suddenly the Franco-German MGCS [Main Ground Combat System] project became increasingly difficult to implement.
Paris is aware of the situation. Already last week, the French Minister of Defense, Mr. Sebastien Lecornu, expressed his concern about the MGCS. Seeing what is happening in Berlin, Mr. Lecornu has every reason to be worried. Moreover, the MGCS is in its infancy and is already causing disagreements between Germany and France. The disagreements are operational-management: the manufacturers involved in the MGCS project cannot agree on who should take what role. Put simply – everyone wants to be a leader, but no one backs down.
And if the MGCS was to overcome this challenge, suddenly Rheinmetall appeared on the scene with his KF-51 Panther. The balance was broken, and France saw a threat both to the general project and to her own defense. A “second slap” hit Mr. Lecornu when a confidential report by German industry to the Bundestag’s budget committee said, “the MGCS would hardly materialize until 2035”.
Is Berlin not telling Paris that a new joint tank is not a priority for the German budget and army? This may be the message. Currently, Leopard 2A7+ is starting to be ordered from European countries. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that the German lobby in Norway did the impossible for their Leopard 2A7+ to win the tender for a new battle tank of the Norwegian army, beating the undoubtedly superior South Korean K2 Black Panther.
We have already mentioned Hungary as a Leopard 2A7 user, but Qatar also ordered this version of the tank. Berlin has a production line built for the 2A7, so the production of the 2A8 will be much easier, and even faster. Therefore, it is not surprising that if the Leopard 2A7+ is the best German tank at the moment, Berlin wants something better for its soldiers.
The Leopard 2A8 would be born to remain the tank of choice for the German Army. For how long is still unclear. But such an opinion was also expressed by the management of the Renk company in the person of Mrs. Suzanne Wiegand, CEO. “Leopard 2 is likely to remain the preferred product for some time,” she said. Although Berlin has not given up on the MGCS but is giving signals that this project is not a priority at the moment, we can’t help but end with a question: Did the MGCS project end before it even started?
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