NATO and EU member state Hungary is modernizing its land forces and seeking a European alliance for its equipment.
As part of this modernization process, Hungary signed a contract for the procurement of 44 new Leopard 2 A7+ main battle tanks and 24 new PzH 2000 howitzers with German defense technology company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) on December 19th, 2018.
In addition, Hungary is procuring 12 used Leopard 2 A4 main battle tanks from KMW’s inventories for training purposes. The project represents a further step toward greater interoperability between European armed forces. Hungarian Defense Minister Tibor Benkő emphasized that the contract would strengthen the smooth and extensive cooperation between the German and the Hungarian Armies.
Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, a member of the German-French defense technology group KNDS, leads the European market for highly protected wheeled and tracked vehicles. At locations in Germany, Brazil, Greece, Mexico, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the USA more than 4,000 employees develop, manufacture and support a product portfolio ranging from air-transportable, highly protected wheeled vehicles (MUNGO, AMPV, DINGO, GFF4 and BOXER) through reconnaissance, anti-aircraft and artillery systems (FENNEK, GEPARD, Remote Controlled Howitzer 155, Armoured Howitzer PzH2000, DONAR and AGM) to main battle tanks (LEOPARD 1 and 2), infantry fighting vehicles (PUMA) and bridgelaying systems. In addition, KMW has wide-ranging system competence in the area of civil and military simulation, as well as in command and information systems and remote-controlled weapon stations with reconnaissance and observation equipment. The armed forces of more than 50 nations worldwide rely on tactical systems by KMW.
According to Igor Tabak, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly reporter, Croatia has ordered 12 Panzerhaubitze 2000 (PzH 2000) 155 mm self-propelled howitzers from ex-German military stocks. A contract for the order was signed in Zagreb on 5 December, 2014 by Viktor Koprivnjak, Croatian deputy minister of defence in charge of material resources, and by Helmut Richter from the Federal Office for Defence Technology and Procurement.
The delivery of PzH 2000 to the Croatian Armed Forces (CAF) is to be done in two tranches of six systems: the first in the second half of 2015 and the second in 2016. Germany will prepare the artillery systems for Croatian service prior to their delivery, a process that will include upgrading their communications array and weapon control software.
During the signing, Koprivnjak stated: «The weapons themselves are priced at €12 million ($15 million), while the overall project is valued at €41 million. Apart from the actual PzH 2000 howitzers, there is training, spares, and adjustment of the weaponry and their electronic systems for service in the CAF».
While this procurement is mentioned in the new CAF Long-Term Development Plan 2015-24 (still going through parliament) as a goal to be fulfilled by 2019, the new artillery systems are considered vital for the development of a CAF NATO force capability.
In order to lower the costs of the upgrades and for their operational usage, the contracting for these parts of the programme is being done by the NATO Support Agency’s Land Combat Vehicle (Project PzH 2000) effort in order to benefit from economies of scale.