“There is nothing standing in the way of the gift of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Czech Republic in the form of fifteen Leopard tanks at the moment. The legal and technical details have been settled. Now the contracts will be discussed by the government and then they will be signed,” said Ministry of Defense spokeswoman Natálie Forsterová.
Currently, the German side is modifying the first Leopards to meet the needs of Czech tankers. They only have experience with Russian technology used by the countries of the former Warsaw Pact. At the turn of the millennium, Czech companies modernized thirty of these tanks, which were designated T-72M4CZ. Among other things, they equipped them with an Israeli propulsion unit, an Italian fire control system or reinforced armor.
In the German Leopard 2A4 armored vehicles used by the Bundeswehr, it is necessary to replace, for example, some electronic systems or software equipment. “Modifications of the first tanks are taking place in order to meet the needs of the Czech army and to ensure the compatibility of communication and information systems in particular,” added Forsterová. The works are timed according to the schedule, which includes deliveries of the first pieces of equipment this year.
Czech military experts have been going to Germany for consultations since spring and find out what equipment needs to be supplemented or replaced. “It is being dealt with in great detail,” an official familiar with the delivery told E15 on condition of anonymity.
The donation includes fourteen leopards and one Buffalo recovery tank, spare parts for one year and training of workshop specialists. The package that the Czechia will receive will also include 120 millimeter NATO standard ammunition for thirty daily rations for each of the fourteen battle tanks. The cartridges intended for T-72 tanks have a caliber of 125 millimeters.
At the same time, both countries should start negotiating a contract for dozens of new Leopards of the most advanced generation 2A7+ in various modifications. Fourteen Leopard 2A4s are to be modernized to this level after 2025.
However, the Ministry of Defense must first integrate the multibillion-dollar contract into its plans and obtain the approval of the Ministry of Finance. The Construction Concept of the Army of the Czech Republic and the superstructure document of the Security Strategy of the Czech Republic will also have to be modified.
The problem would arise in the event of an increased pan-European demand for Leopard tanks, which are armed with most NATO countries. Their manufacturer is the German company KMV. “Currently, it can produce several new tanks per month,” said a business source close to the company. This is also the reason why, for example, Poland is buying American Abrams tanks and is reportedly planning to invest in South Korean K2s.
The Leopards donated by Germany will replace the T-72 tanks that the Czechia sent to Ukraine. Fifteen older German armored personnel carriers will be acquired by Slovakia for a similar reason. Before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the army had approximately one hundred unmodernized Russian T-72 tanks. The ministry does not want to specify how many of them were acquired by the Ukrainian defenders.
The army has three tank units made up of professional soldiers and one made up of members of the Active Reserve. “If they are to have ten tanks each, the lowest possible number is forty. But ideally there should be sixty to eighty,” says Jan Kofroň, a political geographer from the Institute of Political Studies of the Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University.