Germany ups tiny tank force by 40 percent
(Above, a Bundeswehr film posted this week of a Leopard 2A6 of 4./Panzerbataillon 104)
From National Interest:
Germany has begun the process of upgrading 103 [or 104] out-of-service Leopard 2A4 and 2A6 tanks to the latest model, the Leopard 2A7V—an upgrade that will cost the state the equivalent of 760 million euros ($833 million). The big news is that by revamping and deploying these new vehicles, the Bundeswehr is expanding its tank fleet by over 40 percent, from 225 to 320 main battle tanks.
As noted by Defense News, this is in addition to another 32 tank chassis frames that will be used for bridging and recovery vehicles. More on the MBTs:
All told, the Bundeswehr stands to get 104 used Leopard 2 battle tanks out of storage that manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann will upgrade under a contract with the German Defence Ministry from the A4 configuration to the newest A7V standard. The latest package includes improvements in the areas of information technology, armaments and armor.
Times have changed, as a May 8 statement from the acquisition arm of the German Defence Ministry noted.
“The geopolitical developments of the past years have emphasized to us the importance of tank technology for our defense capabilities,” officials wrote.
Of course, the increase is paltry compared to the Germans pre-1989.
Back in the 1980s, the West German Bundeswehr was a massive roadblock to the Warsaw Pact hordes coming through the Fulda Gap. Established on the 200th birthday of Scharnhorst on 12 November 1955, the force used largely Allied equipment and Nazi-era officers, but within a generation, both were replaced by some of the newest and most forward-thinking leaders and gear in the World. German Leopard tanks were (and Model 2A7s today still are) seen as perhaps the most deadly armored vehicle in Europe.
At the height of the Cold War, when fully mobilized, the Bundeswehr could count on nearly a million men under arms and some 4,000 Leopards to hold the gap.
Then came the great melting of the Berlin Wall, reunification with the East, and a general downsizing of the ‘Heer over the past 25 years. Now, the 60,000-strong German Army has but two active Panzerbrigades and 225 Leopards of all types backed up by an equal number of Puma and Boxer armored vehicles. The to 320, all things considered, is not something old Scharnhorst would boast too much about.