German heavy armour vendor Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) has recently delivered a batch of new-built Leopard 2A7+ main battle tanks (MBT) to Qatar, amounting to nearly half of the 62 ordered by Doha in a $2.21 billion U.S. deal signed in 2013 (IHS Jane’s).
The multi-billion-dollar heavy armour contract also includes the provision of 24 PzH-2000 155mm/52-calibre self-propelled tracked howitzers (SPH) and several dozen light armoured vehicles.
The first batch of Leopard 2A7+ MBTs was reportedly delivered in October 2015. According to IHS Jane’s, Qatar’s Leopard 2A7+ MBTs have been “optimized for operations” in high-temperature environments.
In 2012 the German news publication Der Spiegel reported that Doha had been interested in procuring upwards of 200 new Leopard 2 MBTs. Amid domestic skepticism, Berlin eventually finalized a contract for new-built MBTs and SPHs with Qatar.
Notes & Comments:
In line with other Qatari defence procurements, the Leopard 2A7+ and PzH-2000 acquisitions represent Doha’s intent to both modernize and expand its defence capabilities. The Leopard MBTs will replace the 30 to 40 French AMX-30 tanks currently in use by Qatar’s land forces.
In comparison to the legacy AMX, the Leopard 2A7+ is a vastly more robust platform, one benefitting from recent advances in composite armour technology, automation (e.g. via the FLW 200 remote-controlled weapon station), and protection from a diverse set of threats, including improvised explosive devices and mines. In fact, several of the protective applications used on the Leopard 2A7+ had been developed for earlier iterations for use in counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan (by Canada).
Considering the qualitative and capability leap found in the Leopard 2A7+ in comparison to the AMX-30, the fact that Doha is increasing its tank numbers could indicate an intention to maintain a readily available expeditionary force. Another example of this intent can be seen in Doha’s recent purchase of a 9,000-ton landing platform dock from Italy, which will be capable of ferrying 15 MBTs such as the Leopard 2A7+.