KNDS Germany has agreed to expand its production of Leopard 2 main battle tanks (MBTs) to Norway.

An agreement was signed on 11 June 2024, between the producer and its new Norwegian subcontractor, an engineering company called RITEK, which will kick-start production in Trøndelag county in central Norway.

This will be the first time in history that MBTs will be built in the Nordic nation. The prospect was welcomed as a “new industrial adventure” by Norway’s Minister for Defence, Bjorn Arild Gram.

RITEK will begin to deliver the remaining 37 of the 54 Leopard 2A8 units that the Norwegian Government ordered from the German contractor worth $1.8bn (Nkr19.7bn) at the end of February 2023.

“The plan is for RITEK not only to assemble the Norwegian Leopard wagons, but also to become a Nordic hub for maintenance, repair and upgrading of the Nordic Leopard fleet,” Gram added.

Bjørn Arild Gram congratulates KNDS Germany and RITEK both of whom on Tuesday signed an agreement starting tank production in Norway for the first time. Credit: Norwegian Armed Forces.

According to GlobalData intelligence, the Nordic region collectively operate more than 500 Leopard MBTs.

Norway currently employs 94 Leopard 1s, 42 2A4s and 10 2A5s; Sweden uses 120 2A5s; Finland has 100 2A4s and 100 2A6s; while Denmark runs 7 Leopard 1s and 44 2A7s.

“The production line is planned to be maintained after the Norwegian wagons have been produced, so that RITEK can continue to produce wagons to be exported to other countries. This is positive for both local value creation and Norwegian readiness.”

While RITEK will deliver the Leopard wagon and wider Nordic maintenance of the platforms, Rheinmetall will deliver other key components such as the 120-millimetre L55A1 cannon, fire control technology and parts of its sensor suite nearly two months after Norway placed the order. This expands the Europe’s Leopard supply chains considerably, giving the European platform an edge over competition from other systems such as the Korean K2 Black Panther, which Norway had originally contemplated before it selected the Leopard 2 last year. This growing continental ecosystem offers future Leopard customers a reliable supply base as tensions prompt them to mobilise.