The war in Ukraine has turned the armed forces of European countries upside down. Suddenly, all governments have been aware of something that they already knew but tried to avoid: the importance of maintaining a strong investment in Defense, necessary so that, when we come to situations like the current conflict, we are not so dependent on the United States.
In the little more than a year that has elapsed since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory, military budgets have skyrocketed, including that of Spain, although it is still far from that 2% of GDP that all NATO countries they should comply. The certainty that the danger of a war near our borders is real and that we must be prepared for it and the transfer of weapons to Ukraine has led many European nations to reinforce their arsenals and try to replace what is delivered to Ukraine, as is the case with the Leopard or Challenger 2 main battle tanks.
Ukraine’s request for Leopard cars formally concerned Spain and 11 other countries with this model of battle tanks among which were Finland or Poland, some of which had already shown their willingness to hand them over. All depended on the approval of Germany, as the manufacturer of the vehicle.
But, how many tanks does our country really have and how are the rest of the countries doing? Spain has one of the largest fleets in leopard Europe in two versions: Leopard 2Eone of the most modern in the car, and Leopard 2A4. It has a total of 347 cars of this model, although not all are in service. At least half a hundred 2A4 They have been inoperative for some years and in poor condition, some of which are precisely the 10 that are being arranged to be delivered to Ukrainea figure that could grow in the future.
The ground force Opera 239 cars Leopard Of the version 2E distributed in the mechanized brigades Extremadura (Bótoa, Badajoz), Guadarrama (El Goloso, Madrid), Guzmán el Bueno (Cerro Muriano, Córdoba) and Aragón (Zaragoza). Of the total, 219 are line cars; 16 recovery and four school cars.
A small group of Leopard 2E It is deployed outside of Spain. Since 2019, the Army has half a dozen of these cars in the mission Reinforced Advanced Presence of the NATO in Latvia. Specifically, based on Adazi where the bulk of the Spanish contingent deployed in this operation is located.
Besides, the Army has 108 battle tanks leopard of the variant 2A4older. This lot was first leased in 1995 to Germany to train the crews of the future Leopard 2E and later purchased in 2006, through an agreement with the german government for which Spain disbursed almost 17 million euros in annuities until 2016.
Half of these tanks are in service in the Montesa and Alcántara cavalry regiments of the Ceuta and Melilla commanderies. Since 2012, practically the other half -53 tanks- are stored at the facilities of the Logistics Support Group No. 41 (Aalog 41). in the Casetas industrial estate in Zaragoza.
Currently, contrary to other countries, Spain does not seem to have the intention of increasing the number of tanks operated by the armed forces. The clearest case is that of Poland, a country that has decided, given its proximity to the Ukrainian border and Russia, to rearm itself to face a possible conflict with Moscow. It is the country that is supplying Kiev with the most tanks (280 T-72M and 14 Leopard 2A4), but it is also the country that has decided to rearm the most: it has promised to acquire almost 1,400 more battle tanks: it will buy 366 American Abrams; 180 K2 manufactured in South Korea and, in addition, another 800 will be produced locally by the South Korean company Hyundai Rotem.
Italy plans to purchase 125 Leopard 2A7+ and is going to modernize 125 of its Ariete tanks; Norway, Lithuania, Romania or the Czech Republic have also bought around fifty Leopards each.
other light vehicles
It is true that Spain is currently immersed in the acquisition program for 348 8×8 Dragon armored vehicles, which could reach close to a thousand in future stages, but despite their characteristics and their weapons (300 mm cannon, adaptable to 40 mm, MK 44 Bushmaster II; 7.62mm machine gun; 12-barrel artifice launcher and a two-barrel Spike LR anti-tank missile launcher), is far from tank-like, and neither are tanks. 84 B1 Centauro wheeled tank destroyer vehicles (referred to as Cavalry Combat and Reconnaissance Vehicle), Although they replaced the old M-60 tanks, they cannot be defined as such, since their capabilities are much lower in terms of cross-country mobility, firepower, and protection. Still, they are fitted with a gyro-stabilized, high-pressure, low-recoil 105/52mm Oto Melara cannon with heat jacket and muzzle brake and a 7.62mm machine gun, versus the Leopard 2E’s 120mm gun. It is capable of firing with great precision between 1,200 and 1,400 meters and, if necessary, also between 2,500 and 3,000, as it allows the use of “arrow” ammunition (APFSDS).
The other element of the Army is the Pizarro tracked armored fighting vehicle, of which there are around 260 in its different versions, of which just over 200 are Infantry/Cavalry combat vehicles. It is a joint development between the Austrian company Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG and the Spanish Santa Bárbara Sistemas, within the ASCOD family. It mounts a 30 mm cannon and a 7.62 machine gun. An improved, larger and more protected version was made of this vehicle.