Czechs to Buy German-Made Tanks in Army Upgrade

The Czech government said on Wednesday it would buy up to 77 German-made Leopard tanks in the next few years to replace its obsolete Soviet-era fleet.

Prague, a staunch supporter of Ukraine as it fends off Russian invasion, has sent at least 62 of its Russian-made tanks to Kyiv since the full-scale aggression started in early 2022.

The new tanks are part of a joint purchase deal with other European countries to help reduce prices.

“The joint purchase together with several other European countries including Germany… is no doubt advantageous,” Prime Minister Petr Fiala told reporters without naming other partners.

The Czechs will buy 61 Leopard 2A8 tanks with an option for another 16, he said, adding the purchase would cost around $2.3 billion.

The Czech army will also receive 30 Leopard 2A4 tanks from Germany as a gift in exchange for technology sent to Ukraine, and buy another 15 2A4s, Fiala said.

“We should start receiving the (2A8) tanks in 2027 and have 122 tanks in total in 2030,” said Defence Minister Jana Cernochova. “We want to have a heavy brigade as soon as possible.”

Fiala said Cernochova would submit a complete project on the purchase by the end of the year.

He added the government would spend two percent of the EU and NATO member’s country’s gross domestic product (GDP) on defense this year, as required by NATO.

The Czech Republic has stepped up defense spending considerably since the Russian invasion.

Its biggest arms purchases since then include deals to buy 24 US-made F-35 fighter jets, 48 Israeli air-to-air missiles, and 210 CV 90 combat vehicles from Sweden.

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