Le Leopard German 2A7 wins against K2 Black Panther South Korean in Norway

Like the majority of European countries, Norway embarked on a forced march in exploiting the mirage of the benefits of peace in the late 90s, when its defense effort passed, in 15 years of time down to its lowest point in 2014, from 2,8% of its GDP to just 1,4% of it. Fortunately for the Norwegian armed forces, these savings came after a major modernization effort was made in the 90s, with the acquisition of 74 F-16 A/Bs to replace its aging F-5s, 5 Fridtjof Nansen-class frigates (one of which was lost in 2019) to replace the Oslo-class frigates, as well as 54 heavy tanks Leopard 2A4 supported by around a hundred CV90 infantry fighting vehicles and 52 CV90s in mortar configuration. In fact, in the mid-2000s, Oslo had a perfectly capable, modern and sized armed force for a country of only 5 million inhabitants.

The annexation of Ukraine in 2014 marked the end of this idealized period for the Norwegian authorities, who began a major effort to bring the budget back above $7,5 billion today, more than 2% of the country's GDP. And a new effort of modernization of the armies was immediately undertaken, with the increase in the volume of F-35A ordered by the Luftforsvaret, increasing from 38 to 52 devices, as well as the control of 4 new Type 212CD submarines in cooperation with Germany, and the replacement of some 55 M109 self-propelled guns still in service at that date, by 28 South Korean K9 Thunder systems, supported by no less than 14 K10 systems support and refueling for these self-propelled guns. While Oslo planned to modernize 2017 of its 38 heavy tanks until 52 Leopard 2A4 PL, the decision was made to replace them with a new tank, the call for competition having been published in October 2020 for 54 modern heavy tanks as well as 18 optional systems.

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The Norwegian armies field 38 Leopard 2A4NO of the 52 acquired from Germany in 2001.

Two industrial offers were selected by Olso for this competition, the Leopard 2A7 from the German Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, and the K2 Thunder from the South Korean Hyundai Rotem, and a test campaign was undertaken from January 2022 to evaluate the performance and capabilities of each of the candidates, including in winter conditions. in the harsh Norwegian climate. Obviously, the competition was very close. By the Norwegian authorities' own admission, the two tanks met all the requirements of the Norwegian armies, and showed excellent qualities during the test campaigns. In the end, however, it is Leopard German 2A7 which has been selected, and which will enter service from 2026 to replace the Leopard 2A4NO still in service.

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