Norway Procures New Leopard Tanks From Germany in Closure to Hot Arms Debate
A Leopard 2 battle tanks of the German armed forces Bundeswehr drives during a visit by the German Chancellor to the German Bundeswehr’s troops during a training exercise at the military ground in Ostenholz, northern Germany, on October 17, 2022InternationalIndiaAfricaIn recent years, Norway has maintained a close military collaboration with Germany, including submarine cooperation. The bilateral engagements between Oslo and Berlin received a shot in the arm after the conflict in Ukraine began, as Norway replaced Russia as the EU’s biggest supplier of gas.Norway has decided to acquire 54 German Leopard 2A7 main battle tanks, bringing a bitter debate between the military and politicians over funding priorities to a close.The planned 19.7Bln NOK ($1.91Bln) package also includes an option to buy a further 18 vehicles. The new tanks will replace Leopard 2A4 vehicles and are due to be phased in between 2026 and 2031.Although the contract with manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMV) has yet to be signed, Norway’s Defense Materiel Agency said it is expected to be in the near future.Justifying the procurement, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store enigmatically claimed that Oslo finds itself in “one of the most demanding security policy situations since the Second World War.” He also stressed that the Leopard 2A7 acquisition will both lead to closer security ties with Germany and ensure that Oslo shares a common main battle tank with its Nordic neighbors and close allies.MilitaryNorway Preparing for Its Largest Military Drill of the Year3 February, 07:56 GMTThe choice of the Leopard follows Norway’s close military collaboration with Germany on a number of major defense and security related projects, including submarine cooperation. The bilateral engagements between Oslo and Berlin were also heavily boosted by the conflict in Ukraine, as Norway replaced Russia as Europe’s biggest supplier of gas after Brussels opted to cut down on Russian imports.Although appearing logical, the decision was not without debate. Top-ranking military officials, including Norway’s Chief of Defense Eirik Kristoffersen openly opposed the procurement, instead urging the government to buy new helicopters and long-range precision arms.Last month, Norway committed itself to sending tanks to Ukraine, indicating its readiness to contribute a yet unspecified amount of Leopard 2A4 vehicles. So far, Norway has donated anti-tank weapons, air defense systems, self-propelled artillery vehicles, thousands of artillery shells and microdrones to Ukraine and is planning to send missiles, according to its military.Western countries ramped up their military support for Ukraine and boosted their own military spending under the pretext of bolstering self-defense after Russia launched a special military operation on 24 February 2022, responding to calls for help from the republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Moscow condemned western military assistance to Kiev, stating that it merely prolongs the conflict and constitutes legal targets for Russian troops.