Blow for Rheinmetall's KF51 Panther, Berlin turns to Leopard 2A7V to replace tanks sent to Ukraine

Apart from doing a handstand, Armin Papperger, CEO of Rheinmetall, will probably have tried everything in recent weeks to convince the Bundeswehr to turn to its new tank, the KF51 Panther, in particular to replace the 18 Leopard A26s sent by Berlin. in Ukraine in support of Kyiv's defense effort against Moscow. Unfortunately for him, it will not. Indeed, the president of the Defense Committee at the Bundestag, Agnès Strack-Zimmermann, confirmed yesterday in an interview with Frankfurter Rundschau, that the Bundeswehr was going to order new Leopard 2 tanks in their ultimate A7V version, but also Pzh2000 self-propelled guns, to replace the tanks sent to Ukraine, to the delight of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, who manufactures the two tanks (with the competition from Rheinmetall), and which has seen, in recent months, its order book fill up after the success of the Leopard 2 in Hungary and Norway, and while waiting for the Czech Republic.

This is a blow for Rheinmetall, which was hoping for support from the Bundestag to start production of the KF51 Panther, so that it can position itself effectively in international competitions, including in Europe. To convince the German parliamentarians, Armin Papperger even leaked certain negotiations around risky projects, such as the construction of a production plant in Ukraine for €200m which would be capable of producing 400 Panthers per year, values ​​that all experts in the field agree to find unbelievable. Fortunately for Rheinmetall's stock market price, the Berlin arbitration was made public 10 days after the publication of its results and outlook, otherwise good and promising.

Rheinmetall's hopes of its Panther joining the Bundeswehr were dashed, at least in the short term, by the decision to acquire additional Leopard 2A7s.

The choice of the Leopard 2A7V, on the other hand, makes perfect sense for the Bundeswehr, which has already modernized part of its fleet of heavy tanks to this standard, and which in fact has both the maintenance infrastructure and the appropriate training to put them implemented. With a combat mass of 63 tons, the Leopard 2A7V is indeed one of the best heavy tanks of the moment, both well protected by composite armor combining steel, tungsten, titanium and ceramic, well armed thanks to its L55 gun of 120mm with smooth bore and 55 calibers fed with 42 shots, and powerfully motorized with its MTU Mb 873 ka 501 turbo-diesel engine. It also has, in this version, a reinforced modular shielding of the frontal glacis giving it a steel equivalent of more than one meter, a hull reinforced to resist mines, a new APU of 20 kw allowing to operate the all systems, including air conditioning, stationary, as well as modernized on-board and vetronic systems.

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