Why Germany's Incredible Leopard 2 Tank Is In Hot Demand

Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank

Why Germany's Incredible Leopard 2 Tank Is In Hot Demand

The Leopard 2 tank (MBT) is in active service with numerous NATO members, including nations directly bordering Russia. And nations around Europe are lining up to get more of these tanks. 

 

More German Leopard 2 MBTs Heading to Russia's Borders - One of the world's best main battle tanks (MBTs) could be deployed closer to Russia's major cities than the Kremlin would like – but it is arguably a result of its invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago. This week, Lithuania's Defense Council announced that will initiate negotiations to buy Leopard 2 MBTs from Germany.

"Our intention is creating a tank battalion, but much will depend on conditions, such as what price we agree on. So I can't name any details yet," Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas told reporters on Tuesday, according to a report from Reuters.

 

NATO has pledged to strengthen its presence on the alliance's eastern border, and Lithuania, which borders Russia and Moscow's close ally Belarus, currently does not operate tanks. The Leopard 2 MBTs will be produced by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, part of the German-French technology group KNDS, and are scheduled to be combat-ready by 2030.

Lithuania recently took the final delivery of 91 German-made Boxer armored fighting vehicles, which it ordered in 2016 – in a deal valued at 670 million euros ($727.71 million).

Berlin has also committed to permanently deploying a combat-ready brigade of about 4,800 soldiers to Lithuania by 2027. It will be the first permanent foreign deployment of German troops since the Second World War.

The Leopard 2 in NATO Service

The Leopard 2 MBT is in active service with numerous NATO members, including those nations that directly border Russia.

Currently, the Polish Armed Forces operates the Leopard 2PL, a modernized version of the older Leopard 2A4. Modernization of the MBT is being carried out in cooperation with Rheinmetall and the Polish Armaments Group. As of the end of last year, the Polish Army has 62 Leopard 2 in the PL/PLM1 version in service out of a planned 142 vehicles.

Those aren't the only German-made Leopard 2s in service with Poland.

Warsaw has 86 Leopard 2A4s and another 105 Leopard 2A5 tanks in its arsenal, while Norway also operates more than two dozen 2A4NO variants – which were rebuilt after service with the Dutch military. The Nordic country has orders for nearly 100 additional German-made tanks.

The Finnish Army maintains a fleet of more than 200 Leopard 2 – including 139 2A4s that are in reserve, while 100 2A6 MBTs are now in active service.

Leopard 2 Tank

A variety of Leopard 2 MBTs have also been supplied to Ukraine, where the armored vehicles have been employed on the front lines. Though the tanks haven't delivered the "knock-out" blow that some military analysts predicted, the Leopard 2 has been seen as a more "survivable" MBT than the Soviet-era tanks Kyiv had employed since the start of the war.

The German-made Leopard 2 remains one of the most well-reputed MBTs in service today, although it wasn't really "proven" in combat until the War in Afghanistan and the Syrian Civil War – decades after it first entered service. Developed in the 1970s to replace the older Leopard 1, the Leopard 2 was adopted by the West German Bundeswehr in 1979 and has been exported to nations around the world.

Leopard 2 Tank

The third-generation 55-ton Leopard 2 is armed with a 120mm smoothbore main gun and equipped with a digital fire control system. The tank has been steadily upgraded and will remain in service throughout the 2030s and perhaps beyond.

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. You can email the author: [email protected].

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