Germany has ordered 18 new Leopard 2A8 main battle tanks to strengthen its armoured forces, according to a statement by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), the manufacturer of the tanks.
The new tanks will replace some of the older Leopard 2 variants that were donated to Ukraine earlier this year as part of a military aid package.
Leopard 2A8: A State-of-the-Art Tank
The Leopard 2A8 is the latest version of the Leopard 2 family, which has been in service with the German army since 1979. The new tank features improved armour protection, including passive armour and belly armour against mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). It also has a more powerful engine, a digital fire control system, and an integrated active protection system (APS) called Trophy, developed by Israel’s Rafael. The APS can detect and intercept incoming projectiles, such as anti-tank missiles and rockets before they hit the tank.
The Leopard 2A8 is based on the Leopard 2A7V variant, which was introduced in 2019 and is currently being delivered to the German army. The 2A7V also incorporates upgrades from previous versions, such as the 2A6 and the 2A5, which enhanced the tank’s mobility, firepower, and survivability. The Leopard 2 is considered one of the most capable and reliable tanks in the world and has been exported to several countries, including Canada, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and Qatar.
Germany’s Support for Ukraine
The decision to order new tanks comes after Germany agreed to send 50 Leopard 2A4 tanks and 12 self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine in February 2023. The move was part of a larger package of military assistance that also included drones, radars, anti-tank weapons, and training. Germany said the donation was aimed at helping Ukraine defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity against Russian aggression.
Ukraine has been locked in a conflict with Russia-backed separatists in its eastern regions since 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea. Despite several cease-fire agreements, the fighting has continued sporadically, claiming over 14,000 lives and displacing millions of people. Ukraine has sought more support from its Western allies, especially NATO members, to deter further Russian escalation.
KMW said that the contract for the new tanks was signed with the Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment (BAAINBw) on May 25. The company did not disclose the value of the deal, but the German parliament’s budget committee had approved funding of about €525 million ($563 million) for it on May 24.
KMW said that the delivery of the new tanks is scheduled to start in 2025, and that the contract includes options for another 105 Leopard 2A8 tanks. KMW also said that it will produce 12 new self-propelled howitzers for the German army as part of an option agreed to in March.