The Finnish Ministry of Defence (MoD) will acquire second-hand Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks (MBTs) from the Netherlands, Dutch defence minister Jeanine Antoinette Hennis-Plasschaert has revealed.
In a letter to the Dutch Parliament's Lower House, Hennis-Plasschaert noted that the contract is likely to be signed next week during the visit of Finnish defence minister, Carl Haglund, to the Netherlands.
The contract will cover supply of a total of 100 Leopard 2A6 tanks, as well as associated training materials, spare parts, special tools, training ammunition and personnel training.
A small number of bridgelaying tanks and engineer tanks currently remain in service with the Royal Netherlands Army, following the Ministry of Defence's (MoD) decision to retire the Leopard 2A6 fleet in wake of budgetary constraints in April 2011.
The Netherlands had previously tried to sell the tanks to Indonesia, but the sale was strongly opposed by Dutch legislators, citing rampant human rights violations across the archipelago, especially in Papua New Guinea.
Developed by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), the 60t Leopard 2A6 is an advanced variant of Leopard 2A5 MBT, featuring an auxiliary engine, improved mine protection and an air-conditioning system.
Fitted with a new Rheinmetall 120 mm 55 calibre smoothbore gun, the tank can also fire the enhanced 120 mm Kinetic energy ammunition (LK II) with increased armour penetration characteristics, in addition to the current range of ammunition.
Apart from the Netherlands, the tanks are also operated by the armies of Germany, Canada, Greece, Portugal and Spain.
Deliveries will take place in batches, with the last scheduled to be handed over in 2019.
The Finnish Army currently operates 100 Leopard 2A4 variants that were supplied from ex-German Army stocks from 2003 onwards, as reported earlier by IHS Jane.
Image: a Leopard 2A6 main battle tank of the Royal Netherlands Army. Photo: courtesy of 32X.