Slovakia may join the joint purchase of Leopard 2A8 tanks

 01. 01. 2024      category: Events
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During December, Czech Defence Minister Jana Černochová announced that the Czech Republic and Germany have started to approach countries across Europe that could participate in the joint purchase of Leopard 2A8 tanks. Slovakia is one of the countries that could be interested in buying modern tanks as part of a wider cooperation. It is currently taking over older Leopard 2A4 tanks from Germany.

Foto: V rámci modernizačních procesů poslanci řešili zejména pořízení tanků Leopard 2 | Jan Zilvar / CZ DEFENCE
Picture: Slovakia is one of the countries that could be interested in buying modern Leopard 2A8 tanks as part of a wider cooperation. | KMW

Interest in heavy combat equipment across Europe remains high. Tanks are no exception, as they can still be considered the main firepower against enemy armoured formations. For this reason too, the countries of the old continent are looking for ways to replace obsolete armaments and introduce new, modern tanks that are adapted to the 21st century battlefield. The fact is that the only tank currently in production in Europe is the Leopard 2 tank of German origin, and it is not surprising that many European countries are interested in this tank.

Currently, the Czech Republic is also discussing the purchase of Leopard tanks in the latest 2A8 design, with the Ministry of Defence announcing last May that the Czech Republic was interested in jointly purchasing the latest Leopard 2 tanks with Germany. The Ministry of Defence also expects that if the joint acquisition is extended to other countries, the cost of the equipment would be reduced and delivery times would also be shortened. According to the available information, the Czech Republic would like to acquire a total of 77 Leopard 2A8 tanks, which would gradually replace the T-72M4 CZ tanks in the arsenal.

At a recent press conference, Minister Jana Černochová said that the Baltic States and Slovakia could also be involved in the purchase of Leopard 2A8 tanks. Both the Czech Republic and Germany have already approached the aforementioned countries with the possibility of joining the planned acquisition. For Slovakia in particular, this is an interesting opportunity to acquire modern tank armament compatible with many European partners and allies.

Slovakia currently has 30 older T-72M1 tanks and is gradually taking over 15 Leopard 2A4 tanks, which the Slovaks will receive from the Germans as compensation for their assistance to Ukraine. These tanks will significantly increase the tank capabilities of the Slovak Armed Forces, but even the Leopard 2A4 tanks cannot be described as state-of-the-art systems. As far as the T-72 tanks are concerned, according to the data of the Slovak Defence Forces, all of these machines are beyond their service life, on the other hand, former Minister of Defence Jaroslav Nad stated at the beginning of 2023 that all T-72 tanks are in a combat-ready condition. However, it should be remembered that the T-72 tanks were produced in the Czechoslovak times at the state enterprise ZŤS in Martina. In the 1980s, mainly combat and engineer versions of these machines were produced there, with annual production ranging from 300-400 tanks. As Ján Segľa, the former director of ZŤS Martin, explained, the production record of the company was 417 tanks produced in one year. 

The absence of modern tank technology is repeatedly mentioned in the Comprehensive Defence Assessment of the Slovak Republic, which the Slovak Ministry of Defence publishes annually on its website. For this reason too, the Ministry of Defence's Long-Term Development Plan with a view to 2035, adopted in 2022, reflected the ambition to acquire new main battle tanks by 2026. The current opportunity to engage in the joint acquisition of Leopard 2A8 tanks may then accelerate this decision. At the same time, the likelihood of introducing a modern tank platform into the armament of the Slovak Armed Forces later this decade is increasing, which is crucial for the development of the Slovak army. It is also proposed to create a strong Central European industrial base that would provide service, repair and spare parts production in cooperation with the Leopard manufacturer KMW. This would involve the domestic defence industry in the acquisition, which can then work together to create a strong and resilient regional supply chain.

 Author: Mgr. Otto Dóka

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