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Slovakia to Acquire Over 100 New Main Battle Tanks.

The Slovak Ministry of Defense announced its intention to acquire 104 new main battle tanks during the Future Armored Vehicles Central & Eastern Europe conference, held from May 13 to 14, 2024, in Budapest.
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Slovak Leopard 2A4 Main Battle Tank. (Picture source: Slovak MoD)

Slovakia has expressed interest in acquiring new main battle tanks, though specific details remain scarce. Many manufacturers will certainly be eager to compete for this potential new market.

Currently, the Slovak armored forces use two types of main battle tanks: the more numerous T-72M1 and the newer Leopard 2A4. For years, there were plans to upgrade the T-72M1s to varying extents. However, Captain Jakub Murcek from the Slovak Ministry of Defense’s modernization department confirmed that this plan had been abandoned. The T-72M1s are expected to be retired around 2030, coinciding with the arrival of the new tanks, as their combat capabilities and maintainability are currently low.

In addition to the T-72M1s, Slovak armored units have 15 Leopard 2A4 tanks received from Germany under the Ringtausch program. This exchange was in return for Slovakia’s transfer of 30 BVP-1 infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine. Although much more modern than the Soviet-era T-72M1s, the Leopard 2A4s may face long-term maintenance issues due to limited spare parts availability. According to current NATO standards, these tanks are becoming obsolete, mainly suitable for support roles or as training vehicles. However, they represent a unified platform shared by both Slovakia and the Czech Republic, which are striving for greater uniformity in their military equipment purchases, such as the CV90 infantry fighting vehicles.

So what tanks can the Slovak armed forces buy? We can imagine several different scenarios, but we'll settle for three.

A Polish M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank in Poland. ( Picture Source: US DoD)

The first scenario involves purchasing American Abrams tanks. The key advantages are immediate availability and interoperability with Romania and Poland, which already operate Abrams tanks. The M1A2 Abrams is a third-generation American main battle tank used by the U.S. Army and several other countries. Weighing around 68 tons, it is equipped with a 120 mm smoothbore gun, a computerized fire control system, and advanced composite armor, providing high mobility and increased battlefield protection.

A Polish K2 Black Panther. ( Picture Source: Hyundai Rotem)

The second scenario considers purchasing the K2 Black Panther. The deliveries would be rapid, and the price more attractive for Slovakia, which may not have a colossal budget. Poland has also opted for the K2. The K2 Black Panther is a new-generation main battle tank developed by Hyundai Rotem for the South Korean army. Introduced in service in 2014, this tank features a 120 mm smoothbore gun with an automatic loader, allowing it to fire up to 10 rounds per minute. The K2 incorporates advanced technologies such as independent suspension systems for better maneuverability and a millimeter-band radar to detect incoming projectiles. It is also equipped with a 1,500-horsepower diesel engine, enabling it to reach a maximum speed of 70 km/h on the road.

The Leopard 2A7 is a Main Battle Tank designed and produced in Germany. ( Picture Source: KNDS)

Finally, the third scenario involves the famous German Leopard 2A7, adopted by the Hungarians. The price would likely be higher, but Slovakia and Germany have close ties, and this could further strengthen the relationship between Slovakia and Germany. The Leopard 2A7 is a new-generation main battle tank developed by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) for the German armed forces. Entering service in 2014, it represents a significant improvement over previous models, with enhanced protection, a digital battlefield management system, and increased capabilities for both high- and low-intensity conflicts. It is equipped with a 120 mm smoothbore gun, and advanced composite armor, and can reach a maximum speed of 72 km/h with a range of 450 km.

It will be interesting to see which tank Slovakia chooses in the future. There is no doubt that several manufacturers will compete in this market, and perhaps an unexpected contender will emerge as the winner.

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