What’s left of the Dutch tank fleet has been sold to Finland. The Finnish Minister of Defence just approved the proposal to buy 100 Leopard 2A6NL main battle tanks, plus spare parts for 10 years, combat simulators, maintenance simulators, special tools and testing equipment, and ammunition. At EUR 200 million, that’s less than EUR 2 million per tank. The Finns don’t have a huge tank force, and the new vehicles will become the country’s entire front line tank fleet after they’re delivered between 2015 – 2019.
There are still some ancient T-55s in service, but…
The new machines are really replacing about 124 second-hand Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks delivered via German military surplus from 2003. The Leopard 2A4s ended manufacturing in 1992, which makes the tanks themselves over 20 years old. That’s not a problem in and of itself, but the FDF estimated that a full refurbishment and upgrade would cost EUR 5 million per machine. It’s only half the cost of buying new-build Leopard 2A7 tanks, but the Dutch were selling at a bargain price, so why bother upgrading or buying new?
Even the Leopard 2A4 is significantly better than any Russian tank, and the 2A6 variant offers improved protection, better firepower, and an improved hunter-killer targeting system for the commander and gunner.
The Leopard 2A4s will remain in service until the end of their life cycle (and possibly beyond) as training vehicles and sources of spare parts. The exception is the 12 2A4s converted to combat engineering and bridging vehicles, which will persist in front-line service alongside the new Leopard 2A6s. Sources: Finnish Defence Forces, “The Finnish Army acquires Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks from Holland”.