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Saudi Arabia To Purchase 200 Leopard 2A7 MBTs

July 16, 2011

German Leopard 2A7

In the beginning of the month German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that Saudi Arabia will buy 200 Leopard 2A7 MBTs. The upcoming transaction can be deemed historic as Germany is the only Western European state that never sold arms to the Middle Eastern kingdom. The reason behind this is political, as successive German governments were concerned that its weapons could be used against Israel.

The break with the past occurred when the Federal Security Council approved the sale in early July.

The Leopard 2A7 is the latest variant of the Leopard 2 MBT, which is one of the world’s most widely exported tanks. The Leopard 2 and its successors are so ubiquitous they’re considered the unofficial tank of the European Union.

No doubt German arms manufacturers Kraus-Maffei and Rheinmettall expect to be doing great business for the rest of this year.

The purchase of so many Leopard 2A7’s is also a breakthrough for Saudi Arabia, as it possesses the Middle East’s most diverse armored force. Its current arsenal already includes a substantial number of U.S.-made M60’s, M1 Abrams plus French AMX30’s. Saudi Arabia also tried buying Russian T-90’s at some point between 2007 and 2009. ( “Under negotiation” according to Wikipedia.)

Saudi Arabia ranks among the world’s largest arms importers and news is already afoot that later this year another contract with the U.S. worth $60 billion paves the way for several dozen F15s and almost twice as many helicopters to bolster the kingdom’s air force.

Of course, the regional implications are obvious, as Saudi Arabia is using its military might (along with neighboring Gulf states) to somehow balance Iran’s geopolitical designs. The economic dimension shouldn’t be ignored as well, since bulk orders from developing and oil rich economies are boosting European and North American jobs.

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