“Half the job” with the Leopard 2A4 upgrade

From Savvas D. Vlassis

One of the systems upgrade programs of the Armed Forces, which occupied the KYSEA of October 12, during the formulation of the government representative, was that of the Leopard 2A4 tanks. According to some information, the program was approved by SAGE the previous day, according to the new approval process by the competent bodies.

It is recalled that the Supreme Military Council (SMC) had approved an Integrated Subprogramme Proposal Study (MOPY) only on May 30, but the process was repeated to now come to SAGE. In the decision 4.5 months ago, it was planned to upgrade all 183 Leopard 2A4s at a cost of €1.18 billion according to reliable information from the HORSE HORSE but now, the program involves 123 tanks and the cost has shrunk to around €500 million .

Why was this change made? Officially, the reason given is the invocation of financial constraints by the General Staff, in combination with the need to promote other programs. The result is that the Leopard 2A4 program loses the “added value” it had for the Cavalry – Armored Weapon in terms of the operational arm, for reasons that will be explained below, and the GES is headed for “half jobs”.

First of all we must point out that the reports of various media that are simply reproduced incorrectly by others do not apply, that the decision also concerns the upgrade of a number of Leopard 1A5 tanks. The 190 Leopard 1A5 upgrade exists as a DIT/GES study and pursuit but has not progressed.

Secondly, it is noted that KMW’s proposal envisaged not only the restoration of Leopard 2A4 availability but also the major upgrade of their operational capabilities, in accordance with the Leopard 2A7V standard certified a few years ago. This would bring the tanks in question to a level above 170 Leopard 2 HELs, with guaranteed support for 15 years.

With the new decision, the truncated program concerns a PARTIAL upgrade of only 123 Leopard 2A4s with provision for upgrading the rest in a second phase, at an additional cost of approximately €200 million. Partial upgrade, far from the concept of a total weapon system. The partial upgrade will only include some elements from the 2А7V version, so it will be an intermediate one, which in some elements will surpass and in others fall behind the 2 HEL version!

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Indicatively, the upgrade will have a core Fire Control System, sights and electronics in general, excelling in target detection and recognition performance during the night fight, in relation to the Leopard 2 HEL. However the upgraded tanks will not carry the L55 superior range performance gun, but rather only ready to fit infrastructure. This is a given, as the L44 gun will not allow maximum exploitation of the improved performance of the new sights, still falling short against future threats such as the Altay tank.

This choice undermines the long-term planning of the DIT/GES, as the original planning wanted to upgrade the Leopard 2A4 at a very reasonable cost so that as a 2A7 (V in the ideal case) it would respond to a very large extent to modern operational requirements. Subsequently, the Leopard 2 HELs (which already show signs of “technological aging”) would be upgraded in the period when they would complete 30 years of service, so that in the long run the elite of the Weapon would be kept prosperous.

Now, with the scrapping of the program, the potential of the Leopard 2A4 is saved, which has begun to decline, gradually falling into a regime of cannibalization of irreplaceable units.

At the industrial level, the truncated program will not ensure what was promised by the overall upgrade in the level of industrial involvement of Greek companies, nor will it give room to claim “gifts” in the form of German material to the Greek Army.

The future for GES can be imagined by anyone with a rudimentary understanding of the implementation of armament programs in Greece. Without planning and with piecemeal moves, which are exacerbated by the unstable funding for Defense investments, the implementation of the option to complete the partial modernization of the Leopard 2A4 is at stake, while it is very likely that the full upgrade to the 2A7V level will never be implemented. In such a scenario, today’s investment of €500+200 million will have achieved nothing more than a hole in the water.

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The scenario of completely abandoning the possibility of a future upgrade to 2А7V is also supported by the simple, harsh and unavoidable reality of the loss of the preferential prices filed by the German side in December 2021. As we have already written, the Germans, in their effort to facilitate the taking a decision from Athens for a total out-of-court settlement and investment in the country, they offered particularly preferential prices, 20-30% lower than those proposed years ago, through a program promoted in Europe by the EDA! But since then, after the crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, this offer has become twice as… unrealistic, as the cost of everything has skyrocketed. With rough estimates, if the same negotiation started today, the offer of €1.18 billion would exceed €1.6 billion! Who is being served is obvious.

Instead of the General Staff taking advantage of this opportunity that would not only save public money and ensure maximum operational benefit for the Arm, they are once again turning a major armaments program into a “half-baked job”. When after some years prices will be requested to complete the “half job”, the prices that the staff will see, they will not like at all and they will blame the predecessors. Then, they might be faced with the dilemma of “giving up” the non-modernized Leopard 2A4s and putting all the weight on the Leopard 2 HELs.

In summary, regarding this case, the Mitsotakis government’s decision to take advantage of the opportunity to find an out-of-court solution to settle past cases will preserve the country’s prestige, save public money that should have been paid for reparations and bring a serious investment in the country. But it will miss the opportunity for serious savings and better service to the needs of the GES from the preferential German offer, creating conditions for future waste when taxpayers will be asked to pay the greatly increased cost of the remaining “half job” left as a legacy by the current authorities .

It is of interest if in the process from now on, in the negotiation, there is room for last-minute manipulations.

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