Germany to order 123 Leopard main battle tanks in effort to rebuild military

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius aboard a Leopard tank. (MTI/EPA/Friedemann Vogel)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

Determined to show a more decisive image than his predecessor, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius is moving forward to begin aggressively working on fixing the deplorable state of his country’s military.

The Bundeswehr is in such a poor state that many experts believe piecemeal measures cannot help and it must be practically rebuilt. On the one hand, Pistorius has taken a firm stance in favor of increasing the German defense budget above the NATO requirement of 2 percent of GDP, and on the other, he has immediately started to buy weapons, a task that his predecessor had completely neglected. Now, the German armed forces are attempting to rearm at breakneck speed to make it Europe’s leading military power.

Scholz announced a shift in Germany’s decades-long defense policy on Feb. 27, 2022, in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine three days before. The speech has become famous for the biggest change in defense policy since the end of World War II.

However, nothing much changed while Social Democrat (SPD) Christine Lambrecht was defense minister; her tenure lasted just over one year, and she was ultimately replaced in January by Pistorius. Two months before Lambrecht’s departure, it was revealed that the Bundeswehr’s ammunition stocks were so low they would last less than two days in the event of a war.

Pistorius seems determined to change this situation. Last week, Germany’s parliament already approved the proposal to purchase 50 Puma infantry fighting vehicles, which will cost around €1.5 billion, but Pistorius has already announced that he is requesting 61 more, meaning the Bundeswehr will have 111 in total when the last one arrives.

The latest package includes a much bigger batch than the Pumas. Pistorius has also announced a first round of requests for 18 Leopard 2 main battle tanks, worth around €525 million, but this is really just for starters. The first installment is expected to be followed by another 105 units, for which the manufacturers Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Rheinmetall and MTU Solutions will now invoice €2.9 billion.

The Bundestag’s budget committee is expected to approve the payment for the first 18 Leopards in May, but that would not even replace the tanks Germany has given to Ukraine.

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