In a move to ensure strong national security, Lithuania is set to acquire Leopard 2 tanks from Germany. This action, partially driven by concerns from a potentially hostile neighbor, Belarus, is a clear indication of Lithuania's commitment to protect its strategic location, the Suwalki corridor, the only link between the Baltic countries and the rest of the NATO countries.
Lithuanian Military Strengthening
Lithuania has been on a trajectory of increased military spending, with efforts geared towards significantly strengthening its land forces. Among the items included in this strategy are teleoperated ammunition, artillery system trucks, multiple rocket launchers, and ARTEC Boxer infantry combat vehicles. The nation has also stepped up its cooperation with Estonia and Latvia, recently deciding to establish a defensive line against Russia and Belarus.
Considerations for Further Defense Boost
Not satisfied with the current defense measures, Lithuania is considering further bolstering its defenses. The country's army has indicated plans to acquire combat tanks, with a clearly stated preference for the Leopard 2 which is produced by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. The National Security Council has issued instructions to the Defense Ministry to enter into negotiations with its German counterparts for the acquisition of these tanks. This platform is regarded as the most effective, meeting all of Lithuania's criteria.
Choice of Leopard 2
The choice of the Leopard 2 over the American Abrams and the South Korean K-2 “Panther” greatly enhances the interoperability with Bundeswehr and rationalizes the operational maintenance. In fact, a repair center for these tanks has already been opened in Lithuania, given the supplies to Ukraine. Vilnius is also likely to form partnerships with other countries interested in acquiring Leopard 2 tanks. However, the final cost and number of tanks is yet to be determined, subject to negotiations.
Targeted Battalion Strength
The end goal of the Lithuanian military is to have enough tanks to equip an equivalent of a battalion. This would require at least 54 units. Should a “grouped” order be placed, it has been indicated that the Leopard 2A8 model would be the preferred choice.