Between the South Korean K2 tank and the German Leopard 2A7 tank, Norway is considering replacing the old Leopard 2A4 tankNorway has prepared approx. $1.9 billion for a new battle tank for the Norwegian Army.
The Norwegian Ministry of Defense has planned to allocate $ 1.9 billion to replace the existing Leopard 2 tanks in service and to expand the armored force through the Korean K2 tank or the German Leopard 2A7.
According to Military Balance’s statistics in 2021, the Norwegian Army has 42 Leopard 2A4 tanks in combat and another 36 are in storage, Oslo aims to replace its MBTs in the near future.
The contract for the bulk order of the new generation of tanks will be signed by the end of 2022. The cost of the replacement program is appx $ 1.9 billion, which includes not only the purchase of tanks but also the preparation of the infrastructure, exploit, train crew, and technical staff.
Among the potential candidates to replace the Leopard 2A4 in the Norwegian Army, there are only two vehicles K2 Black Panther of Korea and the Leopard 2A7 of Germany. The main factors driving the choice will be price, features, technology transfer cooperation, and logistics.
The exact number of tanks that will be ordered is relatively difficult to say, but it will certainly be close to the current size, ie about 100 K2 or Leopard 2A7 will be put into service by the Norwegian Army, or will be larger due to war in Europe.
With the two candidates selected, there will be a truly epic confrontation between the newest European tank and the Korean tank that has just appeared on the international market, and the outcome could impact in arms market.
Currently, Korea’s K2 tank is holding a bit of a reputation. On 26 August 2022, the first executive agreement worth $3.37 billion was signed to procure 180 K2s by Poland. The contract includes training programs, logistics packages, 120 mm, and machine gun ammunition for the K2. The 180 K2 tanks, which will be delivered from 2022 to 2025.
Regarding the Leopard 2A7, this version of the main battle tank has been ordered by Hungary (44 units), Qatar (62 units), and the Czech Republic (40 units).
The advantage of the Leopard 2 is that it has achieved the title of the most successful European tank in the international market and the level of this machine is unquestionable. Furthermore, the transition from Leopard 2A4 to 2A7 is considered much easier than changing the platform altogether.
But it seems that the main factor in the selection of the Norwegian Army’s new generation ground combat vehicle will not be the characteristics or price of the tank, but the willingness to perform the task.
In the case of Poland, South Korea guarantees delivery before 2025. Norway sets a similar deadline, that is, all tanks must be produced between 2 – 3 years. The outcome of the tender will show whether Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann is capable of doing this.
Should Norway make a choice in favor of South Korea’s K2, there will be important questions about the German defense industry and Berlin’s true capabilities. This can also be a signal to other Leopard 2 operators.
The vehicles assigned to the Norwegian Army are likely to come with significantly upgraded configurations compared to the original, typically integrating the Israeli Trophy active defense system.
The great loss of tanks – armor in the Ukraine conflict has led many countries to believe that relying only on armor to prevent destruction of tanks is too risky, so it is necessary to equip the MBT with additional equipment. The new defense is more advanced and proactive.