Germany finances the maintenance of 14 Portuguese Leopard 2A6s

Apart from Germany, Portugal is the only country to have supplied Leopard 2A6 MBTs to Ukraine. All the other countries have either spared Leopard 2A4 or Strv 122.

An important signal, even if in the end only three Portuguese MBTs were made available to Ukraine in its defence campaign against the Russian aggressor.

However, the first problems began to emerge even before the delivery to Ukraine. In February 2023, the Portuguese state news agency Lusa reported that Portugal was in contact with Germany regarding the maintenance of the remaining Leopard 2A6 MBTs.

The tanks were no doubt an immense upgrade to the Portuguese Cavalry fleet that consisted of 92 M60A3TTS MBTs. The new Leopards serve to this day in the Tank Group and Reconnaissance Squadron of the Mechanized Brigade.

But while no one doubted the significant step-up in terms of combat capabilities, soon Army personnel began to feel the burden of an unstained support for the tank fleet, as Lieutenant Colonel Miguel Freire, Commander of the Tank Group, tells us in an article for the Cavalry Magazine.

The lack of a sustained procurement of spare parts and the inexistence of a logistics channel meant that once the spares parts of the 38th donor tank had ended, the Leopard fleet began to steadily dwindle as more tanks were made non-operational.

At the time of the discussions, around half of all Portuguese Leopard 2A6s were said to be out of service. However, the original reports fizzled out, and the issue was lost sight of.

Dutch Leopard 2A6Image: 32X | CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported
Dutch Leopard 2A6

Now, however, the negotiations have been completed — a letter of intent was signed on the 28th of November 2023 — and the full extent of Germany’s support is becoming apparent.

In return for the delivery of 3 Leopard 2A6s to Ukraine, KMW will refurbish all 14 Portuguese Leopard 2A6s in active service in Germany. The German government will pay the bill. The costs will total 20 million euros, which will be paid over a period of 4 years starting this year.

At meetings between the German and Portuguese Ministries of Defence and KMW, it was agreed that work on the tanks will begin next year and will extend over a total period of three years. This means that the costs in the first year (2024) will be 10 million euros, while 5 million euros is estimated for each of the following two years.

This information is provided in an official document from the Council of Ministers, which was published on the 22nd of December 2023.

Even though this sounds suspiciously like another Ringtausch and could theoretically be treated as such, it is not officially categorised as such. However, I have already contacted the German Ministry of Defence and asked for a statement in this regard.

Finally, I would like to express my special thanks to Drecas. He helped me a lot with background research on the maintenance deal and in writing the article.

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