Leopard 2 tank

The German Government has authorised Rheinmetall to export 164 second-hand main battle tanks (MBTs) and armoured personnel carriers to the Indonesian Army, Green party parliamentarian Katja Keul has announced.

Published on Keul’s official website, the authorisation letter noted that the package includes 104 Leopard 2 MBTs, 50 used Marder 1A2 infantry fighting vehicles, four tanks specialised for mountain terrain, three mobile bridge-layers, as well as three armoured earth-movers.

Keul, who submitted a formal request to the government for release of information, did not disclose price of the deal that was first requested during German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s official visit to the country in 2012.

Indonesia had requested for the sale of up to 130 refurbished Leopard 2A6 tanks with Merkel under a $280m deal, after a similar purchase was declined by the Netherlands citing questionable human rights record across the archipelago, especially in Papua New Guinea.

The sale has also drawn criticism from Germany’s opposition Green and left parties over concerns that the weapons may be used against ethnic and religious minorities in the country.

"The reform efforts of the Indonesian government are continuing."

However, German state secretary and government spokesman Steffen Seibert was quoted by Agence France Presse as saying that Indonesia had undergone a deep political change toward a democratic political system since 1998, according to the German Government.

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"The reform efforts of the Indonesian government are continuing," Seibert said.

Germany has also cleared the controversial weapon sales to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE in the past few months.

Acquired as part of Indonesia’s 2010-2014 military equipment upgrading programme, the vehicles are expected to boost the army’s operational capabilities, in addition to supporting joint military training missions with neighbouring countries.

Leopord 2 MBT is manufactured by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) as a successor to the Leopard 1 tank, and several versions have served with the German Army during combat operations since 1979.

Image: Leopard 2A5 main battle tanks of the German Army. Photo: courtesy of Bundeswehr-Fotos.

Defence Technology