The Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (NDMA) placed an order with Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) for 54 Leopard 2A7 NOR main battle tanks (MBTs) on 17 February 2023, after the Norwegian government indicated such a purchase was coming on 3 February.

Announcing the contract had been signed on 17 February, KMW said the tanks are scheduled for delivery from 2026 to 2028, adding that the deal includes an option for an additional 18 Leopard 2A7 NORs.

The value of the deal has previously been put at NOK 19.7 Bn (EUR 1.79 Bn).

“This signing is a strong signal for European co-operation,” KMW CEO Ralf Ketzel was quoted as saying after the conclusion of the contract. “It also underscores the tank’s performance and future viability and its importance for joint defence efforts in Europe. KMW is grateful for the confidence. We look forward to the project and thus to long-term international industrial co-operation with Norwegian industry.”

A Leopard 2A7 MBT being trialled in Norway. Oslo firmed up its order for 54 Leopard 2A7 NOR MBTs on 17 February 2023, with an option for 18 more. (Photo: Norwegian Army)

Norway had also considered buying the K2 Black Panther MBT produced by South Korea’s Hyundai Rotem, but selecting the Leopard 2A7 aligns the Norwegian Army more closely with its neighbours and NATO allies in terms of co-operability, logistics and industrial relations.

On 14 February 2023 Norway firmed up its plan to donate tanks to Ukraine and announced it would send Kyiv eight Leopard 2A4NO MBTs and up to four armoured recovery or armoured engineering vehicles, depending on Ukraine’s needs. It is not yet known when these will arrive in Ukraine.

Prior to this decision Norway operated a fleet of 36 Leopard 2A4s, with another 16 in storage, according to The Military Balance 2023 published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. The purchase of at least 54 Leopard 2A7s will thus increase the Norwegian Army’s armoured capability in both quality and numbers.

Peter Felstead