Czech Republic discusses purchase of 70 Leopard 2A8 Tanks with Germany

In a statement published on May 24, 2023, the Czech Ministry of Defense announced that it has authorized Defense Minister Jana Černochová to negotiate the possibility of joining Germany in the purchase of the new Leopard 2A8 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs). The Czech Republic Army is thus poised to acquire a state-of-the-art ground platform, widely used by European armies and compatible with other NATO forces. By joining forces with Germany, the Czech Republic anticipates significant cost reductions, expedited deliveries, and assured logistic support.
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A technology demonstrator of German-made Leopard 2 tank was displayed at IDET 2023 defense exhibition in Czech Republic showing future concept of Leopard 2A8 tank. (Picture source Army Recognition)

"From the start of my tenure, I made it clear that a heavy brigade is among my priorities. The Leopard tanks combine the best features of the previous Leopard 2A4, 2A5, 2A6, and 2A7 versions, battle-tested and at the technological forefront. I believe that negotiations with Germany will succeed and our soldiers will gain the modern equipment they deserve, contributing to the overall defense capabilities of our country," said Defense Minister Jana Černochová after the government meeting.

The proposed Leopard 2A8 version will be among the best available in the global market. Should the Czech army decide to procure these tanks along with Germany, it would represent a significant advancement over current ground equipment (T-72M4CZ and Leopard 2A4). The army praises the technical parameters and capabilities of the tank. "The Leopard tank best meets the requirements of the Czech Army for a modern tank available on the current market, with sufficient destructiveness, mobility, and a high degree of crew protection. It is also a tank used by several NATO armies and does not need further development," says Colonel Ján Kerdík, Director of the Ground Forces Development Department.

The Czech Ministry of Defense will now officially contact representatives of the German Ministry with a request to begin negotiations on the conditions under which the Czech Republic could join the purchase planned by Germany. From available information, it appears that other NATO member states are also considering a similar approach.

A larger order will bring more budget savings due to a higher quantity of tanks purchased. Delivery times will also be shortened, and sufficient logistical support will be ensured. KMW, the company that manufactures the Leopard tanks, could increase its production capacity in relation to the size of the order, which would lead to an acceleration of production and hence a reduction in delivery times. This would be an exemplary example of alliance cooperation in joint procurement of technology, especially considering the context of the war in Ukraine and the increased demand for military equipment.

A significant advantage of a joint purchase would be ensuring maximum interoperability within NATO. The tanks of individual states involved in the joint purchase would differ only in communication technology, which varies from state to state, otherwise, they would be identical, greatly facilitating joint exercises, maintenance, and equipment repairs.

"The negotiations are just beginning, so disclosing details would be untactful. However, we can state broadly that we are talking about approximately 70 tank units, and we expect the price to be in the tens of billions of crowns. We anticipate tank delivery by the end of this decade," concludes Colonel Kerdík.

The Leopard 2A8 represents the newest modernized variant in the Leopard 2 family of main battle tanks from Germany. This tank is equipped with a cutting-edge armor protection system, believed to incorporate multi-layered armor from the newest generation. The construction involves an amalgamation of steel, tungsten, composite filler, and ceramic components. Moreover, it includes an add-on passive armor kit. Improvements have been made to enhance mine protection and bolster the defense of the turret roof. The tank is outfitted with a variant of the Israeli Trophy active protection system, also known as the EuroTrophy.

Retaining the main armament from its predecessors in the Leopard 2 series, the Leopard 2A8 is armed with a 120 mm/L55 smoothbore gun. This gun is manually loaded and can fire all standard NATO 120 mm tank ammunition as well as the DM11 programmable High-Explosive (HE) rounds.

The DM11 120mm x 570 HE multipurpose programmable ammunition, designed by the German company Rheinmetall, has the ability to function in three distinct modes: delayed (mV), non-delayed (oV), and air blast point (LSP). This feature enables it to effectively engage a wide variety of targets. The delayed impact fuse is particularly suited for targeting enemies hiding behind cover, the instantaneous impact fuse excels in breaching tasks, and the air blast point mode is ideal for combatting infantry targets.