Hungary Steps into Modernity as First Leopard 2A7HU Tank Arrives to Replace Soviet Era T-72s

Hungarian 11th Tank Battalion received their first Leopard 2A7HU tank and Wisent 2 recovery vehicle, marking the beginning of their shift away from Soviet-era T-72 tanks. Complete delivery of 44 Leopard 2A7HU tanks and 5 Wisent 2 vehicles are expected by the end of 2023, and these samples, which were brought by road from Germany, will be evaluated by the Hungarian Ministry of Defence before serving as reference models for serial vehicle manufacture.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

The first “reference” samples of the ordered Hungarian Leopard 2A7HU tanks and the universal armoured repair and recovery vehicle Wisent 2 were reportedly delivered to Hungary’s only 11th Tank Battalion of the 25th Infantry Brigade (MH 25. Klapka Gyorgy Lovészdandár) stationed in Tata on August 22, 2023. These samples were transported by road from Germany.

It is reported that these samples will be inspected and certified by the Hungarian Ministry of Defence. After this, they will be returned to the manufacturer, the German company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW / KNDS), so that they can serve as “reference” models for creating the serial vehicles. The beginning of Hungary’s actual deliveries of the 44 Leopard 2A7HU main battle tanks and five Wisent 2 vehicles that were ordered will not take place until the end of 2023.

In December 2018, the Hungarian Ministry of Defence entered into a contractual agreement with Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), now known as KNDS, a German business, to acquire 44 main battle tanks Leopard 2A7+. These tanks will be classified as Leopard 2A7HU for Hungary. In addition, the contract included the purchase of 24 newly built self-propelled howitzers PzH 2000 with a calibre of 155 mm/52. 12 Leopard 2A4 tanks, designated as Leopard 2A4HU, were obtained from existing inventories to be used exclusively for training. Furthermore, the inventory also comprised thirteen heavy military vehicles produced by Rheinmetall RMMV HX and TGS. In addition, eight newly built armoured vehicles were adapted from the Leopard 2 platform. These vehicles included five armoured repair and recovery vehicles known as Wisent 2 and three tank bridge layers known as Leguan. There is a possibility that the expected cost, which was previously estimated at more than 500 million euros, will be changed to more than 1.5 billion euros.

The 12 training Leopard 2A4HU tanks that were purchased as a result of this deal were delivered to Hungary in stages during the year 2020. It is anticipated that deliveries of freshly manufactured Leopard 2A7HU tanks and vehicles based on them will occur between 2023 and 2025. It was in August 2022 that the first of the newly produced PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers were shipped out, and it is anticipated that this process will continue until 2023.

KMW in conjunction with the Rheinmetall Group, is responsible for manufacturing Leopard 2A7HU and PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers for the Hungarian government. This latter company is responsible for producing the primary armaments – 155mm/52 howitzers and 120mm tank cannons Rh120 L55A1, fire control systems, and armoured hulls for the Leopard 2A7HU tanks and PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers that have been ordered. Rheinmetall is responsible for producing the chassis used in the PzH 2000 howitzers. The KMW plant in Kassel is where the PzH 2000 is put together after manufacturing.

For KMW, the contract for the supply of Leopard 2A7+ tanks and PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers to Hungary marked the first contract for the production and delivery of new tanks from the Leopard 2 family and these self-propelled howitzers since the 2013 contract to supply 62 Leopard 2A7+ tanks and 24 PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers to Qatar, which was realised between 2015 and 2017. Consequently, the German industry was able to keep production lines running for Leopard 2 tanks and PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers thanks to the Hungarian contract.

The German business FFG (Flensburger Fahrzeugbau GmbH) in Flensburg is responsible for producing the Wisent 2 armoured recovery vehicles. These vehicles are built on the chassis of newly-built Leopard 2 tanks. Despite this, KMW (KNDS) continues to serve as the primary contractor for their delivery to Hungary. It is important to note that the Wisent 2 vehicles, with the addition of the necessary engineering equipment, can also serve in the role of engineering vehicles.

The Leopard 2 tanks Hungary purchased will be used to outfit the sole tank battalion in the Hungarian Army, the 11th Tank Battalion. Before the year 2020, this battalion had only 15 T-72M1 tanks at its disposal. The 101st Artillery Division, which is a subunit of the 25th Infantry Brigade and was formerly equipped with 12 towed 152mm D-20 howitzers, is in the process of transitioning to using the self-propelled howitzers known as the PzH 2000 as part of its arsenal.

The Leopard 2 A7+ comes with a slew of additional features. Passive comprehensive protection is offered to the crew to limit the hazards of threats like improvised explosive devices (IEDs), landmines, and anti-tank projectiles. 

The tanks are outfitted with people-compartment cooling systems in the turret and chassis, which improves performance. It has a more powerful generator for checkpoint tasks. An outside telephone is provided for dismounted personnel, guaranteeing good communication in military operations.

A combined night vision system for the front and back perspectives and a thermal imager and low light amplifier have been included. For long-range monitoring, upgraded day/night optical electronics are available.

The tanks include the notion of a digitised and multifunctional operator, which refers to merging digital technologies and a wide range of talents into the role of an operator. This notion comprises using advanced command and information systems to improve operator efficiency and effectiveness across different domains.

There is also programmable detonation ammunition, which refers to developing explosives that may be programmed to detonate at certain times or under specific situations.

It is important to remember that the Leopard 2A8 Tank is the most recent and improved variant developed from the Leopard 2A7HU tank.


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