PRAGUE (dpa-AFX) - The Czech Republic has added the purchase of up to 77 Leopard 2A8 modern battle tanks from German production to its list of strategic armaments projects. In addition, the cabinet approved the accession to a cooperation agreement in Prague on Wednesday, which provides for participation in a joint procurement with Germany. According to the Czech Ministry of Defense, this is an indispensable interim step. The final approval of the government is expected by the end of the year.

"Tanks remain an irreplaceable part of a heavy brigade," said Defense Minister Jana Cernochova. They combine high firepower, mobility and resistance. The importance of this weapon system was demonstrated by the experience of the fighting in Ukraine.

In May 2023, Germany concluded a framework agreement with the manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) to procure up to 123 Leopard 2A8 tanks. Germany is offering partner countries the opportunity to purchase certain contingents. The Bundeswehr will initially receive 18 brand new main battle tanks by 2026.

The Czech Republic wants to order 61 Leopard 2 A8s in six different versions, for example as a main battle tank, command vehicle, bridge-laying tank and driving school tank. The Ministry of Defense in Prague put the cost of the order at the equivalent of 1.6 billion euros. There is also an option for 16 additional vehicles. According to the information provided, this would bring the total price to the equivalent of 2.1 billion euros./hei/DP/ngu