German armor on the Evros – The next steps in the defense cooperation between Athens and Berlin

The Mitsotakis – Soltz discussion on the equipment and plans for tanks in the Greek Army

Leonidas S. Blaveris

The outline of Greece-Germany relations in the defense sector was set during the meeting of the leaders of the two countries, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Chancellor Olaf Soltz, at the Maximos Palace, although, officially at least, both during their subsequent statements and from the in their answers to questions from journalists, absolutely nothing was announced about equipment issues.

The assessments of the Ministry of National Defence, politicians and military personnel after the meeting between the two leaders are focused on an important – in their opinion – fact: that is to say, that the German Chancellor publicly stressed, in response to a related question from a compatriot of the journalist, about whether the Armored Combat Vehicles (TOMA) of the Marder-1A3 type will go to the islands, as Germany does not consider where the weapon systems it gives to Greece will go, but the latter is a reliable ally, which knows what it will do.

Immediately after, the prime minister took the floor, who publicly emphasized that the Marder-1A3s will head to Thrace, Evros, because “that’s where the leadership of the Armed Forces decides they should go.”

In addition to this, it is considered absolutely certain that the two leaders devoted a part of their discussion to defense issues, as at this point the postponement of the presentation and discussion to the relevant Parliament’s Equipment Committee by the Minister of National Defense should not be considered “accidental” at all. Defence, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, last Monday, for next week, i.e. instead of before, after Soltz’s visit to Athens, among other programs and two concerning Greece and Germany.

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Upgrade programs

These are the programs to upgrade the Leopard-2A4 and Leopard-1A5 tanks, as well as the program to acquire the new TOMA of the Greek Army Lynx, while there are other programs that make up a “package” of equipment of Greek-German interest:

• The upgrading (initially) of 183 Leopard-2A4 tanks of the Greek Army, which it acquired second-hand from Germany for free, as an “interim solution” (interim solution) within the framework of the Leopard-2A6HEL purchase in the mid-2000s, at a level Leopard-2A7, with a total cost of 1.18 billion euros. The program has been passed by the KYSEA meeting on October 12, 2002 and by the Council of Chiefs of General Staff (CJSC) of the previous one. For more general budgetary reasons, it is estimated that the specific program will be divided into two upgrading phases, with the first, amounting to approximately 500 million euros, concerning the upgrading of 123 tanks.

• The upgrade of 190 older generation Leopard-1A5 tanks to a level “close” to the Leopard-2A7. The purchase of 205 brand new, state-of-the-art TOMA Lynx KF-41.

•For the acquisition of the latter, the Germans, through the manufacturing company, have 100 additional Marder-1A3 TOMAs, which are estimated to be given free of charge to Greece, if it proceeds with their acquisition, as the Minister of Defense, N. Panagiotopoulos, had recently stated in the Parliament .

The upgrades of these two types of tanks to Leopard-2A7 are going to be done in Greece, in Northern Greece more specifically, which, according to the relevant government actors, will create new jobs. This element will give both sides the opportunity to present the whole venture in the form of an “investment” and not exclusively a “purchase”.

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The Navy’s Mid-Life Modernization (MLM) program of the four MEKO200HN type frigates may also be added to the whole “package”. The German proposal concerns its execution under the auspices of the German ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), in collaboration with the Dutch Thales Netherlands for electronics, at the facilities of the Hellenic Shipyards of Skaramangas, where all three of the four frigates were built and have vast experience in the program, estimated to cost 500-600 million euros as a whole.

Although nothing has been officially said, there is as a program of the Navy the “pending” of the EMZ of four Type-214AIP submarines, “Papanikolis” class, which at any time can be added (or removed) from the overall Greco-German equipment package. Finally, in all of the above, the issue of the arrangement and the final settlement between the German manufacturing company and the Greek State, approximately 200 million euros, concerning interest and their compounding, for the purchase of 170 Leopard2A6HEL tanks, should be taken into account. matter for which the German company in mid-September 2021 submitted its proposals to the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), where it has appealed since May 27, 2019.

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