KF51 Panther : Hungary boards the program, but not the tank

According to Armin Papperger, CEO of Rheinmetall, Hungary will board the KF51 program Panther, by financing the adaptation of its industrial tools to be able to produce a new German tank. However, Budapest has not announced its intention to acquire the armored vehicle. How can this strange Hungarian position be explained?

Is Hungary set to be Rheinmetall's industrial fallback plan if its Ukrainian factory to produce the new KF51 tanks Panther become unable to produce? It is in any case a serious hypothesis due to the paradoxical position taken by Budapest concerning its participation in the German tank program.

In September 2019, the Hungarian Army announced that it was purchasinga completely new version of the tank Leopard 2 from German KMW. Baptized Leopard 2A7HU, this prefigures, in fact, the Leopard 2A8 unveiled four years later, including modernized vetronics, reinforced armor and the installation of a hard kill Trophy active protection system from the Israeli Rafael, then a first in Europe.

A year later, Budapest turned its attention again to the German defense industry with the acquisition of KF41 Lynx infantry fighting vehicles for €2 billion, proposed by Rheinmetall and equipped with APS Hard-Kill ADS Strikeshield designed and manufactured by this same manufacturer.

The contract this time was based on an ambitious local production agreement, providing, among other things, for the construction of a factory for the assembly of 162 of the 218 armored vehicles, and the maintenance of the entire fleet.

Budapest's so far losing bet around Rheinmetall's KF41 Lynx

This contract, particularly ambitious for Hungary and its 10 million inhabitants, was a gamble both for Budapest and for the German industrialist. The Hungarian authorities thus hoped to benefit from future exports of the (then) promising Lynx to amortize their investment and develop their defense industry for the occasion.

KF41 Lynx Rheinmetall
The prospects for success of Rheinmetall's KF41 Lynx today come down to the US Army's OMFV competition.

Rheinmetall, for its part, was banking on the credibility and responsiveness that this new industrial infrastructure would provide it, precisely to attract new export customers, especially in Europe.

Unfortunately for both, things did not go as well as hoped for the Düsseldorf industrialist's flagship armored vehicle. Indeed, it was beaten in all the competitions in which it participated, notably by a Swedish CV90 as efficient as it was attractive, and a South Korean AS21 with unbeatable industrial conditions.

If all hopes are not yet lost regarding the Lynx, in particular with its participation in the American OMFV competition to replace the US Army's M2 Bradleys, the chances that the Hungarian factory in Zalaegerszeg will be able to benefit from it are low.

This is probably a reasoning similar to that which led Budapest and Rheinmetall to build this factory, which is at work regarding the announced participation of Hungary in industrial financing for the manufacture of the KF51 tank Panther.

Hungary boards KF51 program Panther

Indeed, in an interview given by Armin Papperger, CEO of Rheinmetall indicated that the Hungarian authorities would finance the industrial adaptations necessary to enable the Zalaegerszeg factory to produce the new tank unveiled in 2022 at the Eurosatory show.

Armin Papperger KF51 Panther KF41 Lynx

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