The Hungarian tank battalion will receive the Leopards 2 very soon – what about the Czech tankers?

The Hungarian tank battalion will receive the Leopards 2 very soon – what about the Czech tankers?
09 / 07 / 2020, 10:00

In Munich, the first two Leopard 2A4HU tanks intended for the 25th „Klapka György“ Infantry Brigade in Tata and its 11th Tank Battalion, were finished. The Leopards, which are planned for the training of crews and maintenance personnel, have already received Hungarian camouflage. The Hungarian army ordered twelve vehicles of this version. The acquisition includes 44 new Leopard 2A7HU tanks (2A7+) and 24 newly manufactured self-propelled howitzers on the Leopard 2 chassis, the PzH 2000, and accessories, including trucks, towing and bridge tanks, ammunition, spare parts and equipment. Congratulations to Hungary and its army. The modernization of Leopard 2 was recently successfully launched by the Polish army too. In the Czech Republic, so far only uncertainty in this regard.

In Poland, the emphasis on rationally set military acquisitions is not too surprising, and we have been following it for a long time. In addition to maintaining armed forces that are difficult to compare with the Czech conditions, they embark on confident projects, such as the development of their own tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicle. If the value of Czech GDP per capita in 2019 was approximately USD 23,200 and if the Czech Republic was in 36th place in this respect in the ranking of the International Monetary Fund, Poland was 56th with USD 14,949, while spending 2.01% of GDP on defense and maintains this level in the long run.

See also: French CAESAR cannons on a Czech chassis are a rational choice for the Czech Artillery

Hungary is a country comparable in size and population to the Czech Republic, and with USD 17,700 per capita, it ranks 47th in the world; having spent 1.21% on defense in 2019. Nevertheless, its army is embarking on large acquisition projects and in addition to the most modern Leopards 2A7+, there is also talk of IFV Puma and Boxer wheeled armored vehicles, while the Czech Republic, quite strangely, modernizes its T-72M4 CZ and the chief of staff openly says that he has no funds to buy modern tanks. Something is probably very wrong in our country, and despite the promises and soaring statements of politicians, the Army still does not enjoy the support that a citizen could expect in the above mentioned comparison of the economic performance of the V4 countries. And for many years the Army didn't have a clear idea of ​​what she wanted. This manifested itself in groping about the modernization of self-propelled howitzers, or the purchase of new ones, on the issue of changes in the IFV acquisition project, the off-road car, and in many other respects, including the unresolved issue of Main Battle Tanks.

Last week, a delegation led by the commander of the 25th Infantry Brigade, General Gábor Lörincz, consisting of soldiers from the 11th Tank Battalion, which operates thirty T-72M1 tanks, visited KMW in Munich to inspect its future training Leopard 2A4HU tanks. These are refubrished vehicles used years ago in the Bundeswehr. In addition to these tanks, Hungarian soldiers were also shown the Leopard 2A7+ designed for Qatar (a vehicle that is part of a large order of 62 tanks from 2013), and related to future Hungarian Leopards 2A7HU. Deliveries of the older 2A4HU will begin this summer, and training of crews and technical personnel will begin to prepare them for the arrival of modern tanks. The 11th Battalion will receive them in 2023-2025. They were ordered at the end of 2018. In this respect, the Army of the Czech Republic faces the date of 1st January 2026, by which the commitment to build a heavy-type brigade task force based on mechanized infantry battalions and a tank battalion with modern vehicles applies.

See also: Czech Army acquisitions – the Army says it has no budget for modern MBTs

From a certain point of view, Hungary can really be envied. Naturally, the Hungarian opposition does not like the fact that the government awards large armaments contracts without tenders; on the other hand, in terms of the content of these contracts and their contribution to the future effectiveness of the armed forces, the government can probably not be blamed much, and certainly not from the Czech perspective. In our country, tenders are usually run, but they are often accompanied by various throws and oddities, and usually also delays. The result counts. The Hungarian result is that by 2025, its tank battalion will have 44 state-of-the-art tanks and the artillery will deploy howitzers on a compatible chassis. At that time, the last modernized T-72M4 CZ should return to the Czech tank battalion, if something does not change. According to the Chief of the General Staff, there is no money for new tanks. In this context, it may be interesting that the acquisition value of 44 Hungarian Leopards 2A7 is estimated by the Hungarian press at the equivalent of 7.5 billion crowns, which is, among other things, roughly the difference between bids for H-1 (14.6 billion) and AW139 helicopters (about 7 billion).

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