More Leopard-2s For Sale, Sold
The Leopard 2 is believed by some observers to be the world’s best main battle tank. It’s certainly the most widely bought ultra-modern MBT; thanks to der grosse DeutschePanzerSchlussverkauf (the great German Tank fire sale), the Leopard 2 and its variants has been bought by Germany, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Singapore, Switzerland, Sweden, and Turkey.
We can now add Leopard 2A6 tanks to Portugal, and Chile is beginning to take deliveries of its Leopard 2A4s.
The Chileans are receiving the slab-sided 2A4 model, and as is customary in these situations, a German firm (in this case, KMW) works to refurbish the bargain basement tanks for their new owners. The Chilean refurbishment contract is worth EUR 50 million ($74.3 million) for the 140 MBTs, and the order also includes 2 training & simulation vehicles, training from German units, and logistical support. The Santiago Times values the total contract at $125 million.
Chile had originally sought to buy the tanks from Switzerland, but the sale of 93 tanks was canceled in November 2005. Negotiations then began with Germany, and the number discussed in March 2006 was 118 (93+25 spare), but that was expanded in the July 2006 contract. Germany will deliver 140 refurbished tanks over a period of 6 years, with Chile expecting to receive 10-12 tanks every 3 months beginning at the end of 2007. Fully 132 of these tanks will also be modernized, and will form 3 groups within Chile’s northern armored brigade. The remaining 8 tanks will be used as replacements, and/or for simulation and training.
The Leopard 2s will replace the Chilean army’s Leopard 1 tanks. About 70 were bought second-hand from Germany, and over 200 were bought second-hand from the Netherlands in 1998-99. According to the Chilean army, its Leopard I tanks were obsolete and it was cheaper to buy the new armory from Germany than to repair the old ones. The first statement is not strictly true in a regional context; at these prices, however, the second argument probably is true. Aviation Week report | Santiago Times report.
Germany isn’t the only European country holding a fire sale for deeply discounted tanks, however – the Netherlands has sold most of its Leopard 2s off to foreign militaries, and continues that tradition by selling Portugal 37 top of their top-tier Leopard 2A6s. A formal contract is expected in December 2007, with delivery in 2008-2009. They will replace Portugal’s existing M-60 tanks. Dutch MvD release [in Dutch].
In the aftermath of their Leopard-2 sales to Norway, Denmark, Canada, and now Portugal, The Netherlands would be left with just 73 Leopard 2A6-NL tanks in their arsenal.
Oct 22/06: Portugal receives its first 8 Leopard 2A6 tanks at a ceremony held at the Santa Margarida army base in Constancia. MDN release [Portugues].
Jan 29/08: The contract is signed [Portugues], with NATO’s NAMSA acting as intermediary. The first 8 Leopard 2A6 tanks will be delivered to Portugal in 2008, and the other 29 will follow in 2009.
- Defensa@net (Nov 28/07) – El Carro de Combate Leopard 2A4 del Ejercito de Chile. Includes basic statistics, plus a partial list of end users for the Leopard 2 that does not include ongoing transfers to Canada, Chile, Portugal, or Singapore.