SAF to acquire 66 refurbished Leopard 2A4 tanks from Germany
SINGAPORE : The Defence Ministry is upgrading its armour capability with its latest hardware acquisition.
SAF will be taking delivery of the first Leopard 2A4 tanks from Germany sometime after 2008.
The refurbished Leopards will replace the Army's SM1 tanks.
The SM1 has been the Army's workhorse tank ever since it entered service.
But as Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean pointed out, moving ahead with the SAF's 3rd generation transformation, the SM1 tank will pose some limitations.
So when the offer came from the German Federal Ministry of Defence for Singapore to acquire the Leopard tanks, MINDEF studied the proposal.
"We looked at a number of alternatives and the German offer of refurbished Leopard tanks is a very cost-effective option for us to start replacing some of the SM1s. The Leopards which we are acquiring will give us a very good baseline for moving forward into the 3G SAF," said the Defence Minister.
"Leopard is a very good platform, it's in service in a dozen countries in the world, there are some 3,000 of them in service." Some of these countries include Sweden, Spain and Turkey.
The Leopard tank was developed in the early 1970s and first entered service in 1979. Deliveries of the Leopard 2A4 version started in the mid-1980s.
SAF will acquire 66 Leopard tanks, plus 30 more spare tanks.
The German Army will also train SAF personnel on the Leopard tank next year.
The heavier and bigger Leopard is better armed and offers more protection.
Compared to the SM1, the Leopard is more powerful and faster as well.
When the Leopard enters service, the local defence industry will also be involved in the Leopard's development.
"They have to maintain it for us. We'll be bringing in some of the facilities that we've developed like the Battle Management System, and as we go along, other types of systems as well, to upgrade the tank for our purposes," said Mr Teo.
The SM1 tanks have been in service in the SAF for about 40 years, and will still be operational for some time to come.
As for the Leopard tanks, after it has been refurbished, the earliest it will enter service is in a year's time. - CNA /ls