Czechia and Slovakia Receive New Leopard Tanks

On 21 December, the Czech army received the first of 14 German Leopard 2A4 tanks which will eventually be upgraded to the 2A7 standard by the Czechs. The vehicles are being offered to replace the armored vehicles the country has delivered to the Ukrainians. According to Oryx data, about 40 T-72M1s have been donated to Ukraine by the republic with another 90 vehicles purchased by the US and the Netherlands from the Czechs to be upgraded and shipped to Ukraine.

Before the outbreak of war in Eastern Europe, the Czech armor force had been completely reliant on old Soviet-era tanks. Czech government officials stated earlier this year that they are negotiating the purchase of around 50 additional Leopard 2A7s independently of the T-72 for Leopard deal with Berlin.

Just one day before, the Bundeswehr handed over the first of 15 Leopard 2A4s to Slovakia in exchange for the aid the country had provided to Ukraine. These are being delivered in exchange for 30 Slovakian BVP-1 infantry fighting vehicles (Czech made licensed copies of the BMP-1). When added to the 30 Leopard 2A4s already in service, this most recent transfer will allow the country to field a standard size NATO armored battalion composed entirely of Leopards.

Both countries hold large stocks of Soviet equipment familiar to and compatible with Ukrainian formations and have been instrumental in keeping the Ukrainians in the fight. Besides T-72s, BMP-1s and BVP-1s, this aid includes S-300 SAMs, Strella MANPADS, small arms, rifle and artillery ammunition, Mi-24V helicopters, self-propelled howitzers, multiple launch rocket systems and more. Slovakian authorities have also announced plans to restart old ammunition factories to supply 122mm and 152mm shells to Ukraine. Nevertheless, NATO has continued to mule over potentially supplying modern Western tanks such as Leopards to Ukraine.

The recently received Leopards add to a growing list of Czech and Slovak acquisitions as the two countries modernize their armed forces. Earlier this month, Slovakia ordered 150 CV9035 IFVs and the Czechs finalized a deal for 10 French CAESAR artillery systems.