Hungarian tankers are training on Leopard 2 tanks – Czech Army needs to wait for them

Hungarian tankers are training on Leopard 2 tanks – Czech Army needs to wait for them
10 / 12 / 2020, 10:00

The 11th Tank Battalion of the 25th Infantry Brigade of Klapka György in Tata, Hungary, received the recently purchased Leopard 2A4HU main battle tanks modified according to Hungarian requirements. These are twelve older vehicles, which are designed primarily for crew training. And that was started. The Hungarian tank army is switching from old Soviet T-72 tanks to modern tanks - 44 Leopards of the most modern variant 2A7HU will start coming to Hungary in 2023. In the Czech Republic, meanwhile, the Government is struggling with the communist demand to reduce the defense budget, and the 73rd Tank Battalion will hopefully receive the renovated T-72M4 CZ tanks by the end of 2025.

Thanks to a major acquisition of vehicles from KMW, which in addition to 12 Leopards 2A4 and 44 Leopards 2A7 also includes 24 tracked PzH2000 self-propelled howitzers, which will replace towed 152mm Soviet M1995 (D-20) howitzers, and a recent agreement with Rheinmetall to supply and produce the LYNX KF41 IFVs, the Hungarian Armed Forces are definitely reaching the world level with their heavy weapons. And in Central Europe, the Hungarian army will probably be one of the strongest for at least some time. The Hungarian Government wants to achieve a 2% share of GDP onf defense spending as early as in 2023, and is increasing its investment in the military by leaps and bounds.

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

Hungarian tankers have been worse off with their weapons than their Czech counterparts. While an expensive and lengthy but technically successful modernization project of T-72 tanks for the world-unique T-72M4 CZ variant took place in the Czech Republic, in Hungary the army has so far used 34 tanks in the T-72M1 basic version and another 130 vehicles of the same type were stored in warehouses.

The training of crews on Leopard 2A4HU tanks could now begin with the aim of preparing the tank battalion for the reception of modern Leopard 2A7HU, which will start from 2023. Austrian instructors are helping with the retraining of Hungarian colleagues. Although the Austrian army is not an army of the Alliance, it has many years of experience with the Leopards in the 2A4 version - they replaced the American M60 A3 Patton tanks with Leopards 2 back in 1997.

The transition from ex-Soviet technology of a different concept to more powerful German Leopards means a big change. Leopards 2 were created at the turn of the 70's and 80's in response to the T-72. Leopard 2A4 tanks are significantly heavier (55.1 t vs. 43 t), are able to develop a higher speed (on the road 72 km / h vs. 60 km / h), and one of the main differences compared to T-72 tanks is the presence of the fourth crew member – the loader. T-72 tanks are equipped with an automatic loading system. The Bundeswehr prefers manual loading - relying on the fact that the first three shots play a crucial role in the firefight, and a hand-loaded weapon, with a properly trained loader, can fire these faster than an automatically loaded weapon. A significant change will also be the transition to modern systems of new vehicles from communication through aiming to systems strengthening the situational awareness of crews.

See also: The heavy brigade’s IFVs can be ready until 2026 only with a G2G agreement. Tanks should also be included

Leopards 2, which are being used in all countries in Central Europe, except for Czechia and Slovakia, are a clear choice for the Czech Army. But in the Czech Republic, we will probably wait a few more years to retrain crews for modern tanks. It was decided that we do not have the money for modern tanks, unlike Hungary or Poland, and instead we invest in the T-72M4 CZ. With them we try to keep the tank army, albeit very minimal, alive. Within the V4 countries, looking at the state of heavy vehicles in the next few years, the Army of the Czech Republic will become a relatively weaker ally than it should be. From a very general point of view, it is not easy to accept why it works in Hungary or Poland, while it does not work in our country.

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