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Germany confirms acquisition of 18 new Leopard 2A8 tanks with additional order of 105 more.

| 2023

The German army (Bundeswehr) has initiated plans to procure 18 Leopard 2A8 tanks as replacements for the previously donated Leopard 2A6 tanks to Ukraine. This forms part of a larger initiative that could involve the purchase of an additional 105 Leopard 2A8 tanks, as revealed in the contract documents considered by the Bundestag (German Federal Parliament) on Wednesday, May 24, 2023. 
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Leopard 2 tank demonstrator showing the idea of the future Leopard 2A8 MBT Main Battle Tank. (Picture source Army Recognition)

As part of the ongoing military aid to Kyiv, the German government transferred 18 of its most modern Leopard 2A6 Main  Battle Tanks (MBTs) to Ukraine. This decision was taken amidst escalated Russian aggression targeting Ukrainian civilian infrastructure earlier this year. The Bundeswehr now plans to replace these tanks with the advanced Leopard 2A8 models at a purchase price of 525.6 million euros.

According to the budget committee of the Bundestag (Geman Parliament), the decision to procure these tanks is a strategic one. Given that the Leopard 2 is regarded as the "main weapon of the German armored forces," filling the gaps left by the donations to Ukraine is a priority for national defense capabilities.

The procurement plan goes beyond merely replacing the donated tanks. The contract includes an option for up to 105 additional Leopard 2A8 tanks at a price of a further 2.3 billion euros. KMW, the manufacturer, has offered to begin production of two additional battle tanks per month from June 2026, conditional on the German government opting for this additional purchase.

This bulk purchase appears to align with Bundeswehr's (German army) projected needs. With its current military inventory standing at 328 Leopard 2 tanks, significantly fewer than during the Cold War, the planned procurement will boost its capabilities considerably.

Ingo Gädechens, a budget politician from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), expressed support for the procurement plans. He emphasized the government's goals of establishing two fully operational divisions by 2027, for which the Leopard 2 tanks will play a crucial role. He urged the government to seize this opportunity to order enough tanks to meet these strategic defense requirements.

Germany confirms acquisition of 18 new Leopard 2A8 tanks with additional order of 105 more 925 002
Concept of Leopard 2A8 Main Battle Tank at IDET 2023, defense exhibition in Czech Republic.

The Leopard 2A8 MBT (Main Battle Tank) stands as a notable advancement over its preceding model, the Leopard 2A7+, boasting several upgrades. These enhancements include an innovative armor package, superior situational awareness and communication systems, and a revamped fire control system.

Open-source information reveals that the Leopard 2A8 Main Battle Tank (MBT) will be armored with cutting-edge, 3rd-generation composite multilayer armor throughout its frame. This revolutionary armor comprises high-hardness steel, tungsten, plastic filler, and ceramic elements, providing robust protection for both the tank and its crew.

In addition to its structural armor, the Leopard 2A8 will incorporate the Rafael Trophy Active Protection System (APS), adding another line of defense for the vehicle. This system, crafted by Israeli defense firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, has the capability to detect and intercept incoming projectiles, further safeguarding the tank and its occupants.

The Leopard 2A8 retains the primary armament from the Leopard 2A7+, consisting of a single 120mm L55 gun. This smoothbore gun, engineered by the German company Rheinmetall, is a direct upgrade from the previously standard 120mm L44 smoothbore gun, which was the main armament for all preceding Leopard 2 series main battle tanks (MBTs).

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