The arms export stamp, the German and Italian winning bet.

If prices and industrial or political compensation have been at the heart of the awarding of arms export contracts, over the last three decades, delivery times have become, in recent years, one of the main selection criteria, in these files.

The heads of state and government, in Europe and elsewhere, are, in fact, striving to compensate, as quickly as possible, for 30 years of benefits from Peace, having left their armies bloodless and incapable of fighting.

Several countries in Europe anticipated this upheaval, and are now reaping significant benefits from it. Germany, like Italy, have thus undertaken to order excess defense equipment from their manufacturers, to build up stocks, or industrial production capacities, in order to respond to the urgent deadlines required by their future customers. .

76 of 105 Leopard 2A8s pre-ordered by Berlin will go to the Czech Republic.

In May 2023, Berlin announced the order for 123 new heavy tanks Leopard X, an evolution of Leopard 2A7HUN designed for the Hungarian armies, and featuring, in particular, a hard kill Trophy system, improved optronics, and reinforced modular armor.

Arms export Leopard 2A8 Czech Republic
Le Leopard 2A8 is derived from the Leopard 2A7HUN acquired by Hungary.

However, only 18 of these 123 heavy tanks were actually intended for the Bundeswehr, to replace the 18 Leopard 2A6 taken from its fleet, to be shipped to Ukraine.

The remaining 105 armored vehicles were ordered from the German budget, but intended for export, making it possible to reach an initial order volume to launch production of the new tank, while guaranteeing short delivery times to its future customers.

Berlin's gamble, and KMW's, paid off. Not only did the Czech Republic just order 76 of the 105 Leopard X pre-ordered by Germany, but Budapest has also validated the acquisition of 28 Leopard 2A4 used, while the Bundeswehr will offer two WZT Bergepanzer 3 tank wreckers to the Czech armies.

If several countries, including the Netherlands, are interested in the 29 Leopard 2A8s remaining to be seized from German stock, others have moved towards direct orders from KMW, Norway with 54 copies ordered in June 2023, while Italy is heading for an order of 132 Leopard X built, in part, on site, once the sustainability of this model was guaranteed by the pre-order from Berlin.

2 Italian Thaon di Revel class PPAs sold to Indonesia

If the German stock made it possible to secure orders for battle tanks, Italy, for its part, did the same with its frigates. Already, in 2020, Rome had sold to Cairo two FREMM frigates of the Bergamini class. The two ships were taken directly from the Italian fleet, guaranteeing particularly short delivery times for the Egyptian Navy.

PPA Thaon di Revel
The Italian Navy has ordered 8 heavy patrol boats of the Thaon di Revel class, in 3 armament versions.

Last week, it was Jakarta's turn to formalize the order of 2 PPA frigates of the Thaon di Revel class, for an amount of €1,2 billion. Jakarta was initially supposed to order six Italian FREMM frigates, with local construction.

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  1. Leasing is a very good idea (and has already been discussed I think).
    As for this buffer thing, it's nothing other than the distortion of competition with public funds which distort an economic market which is already not very well regulated.
    Worse above all, these are mainly disguised state orders to avoid the closure of production lines in the short term.

  2. Thanks Mr. Wolf for all your articles which provide very interesting and stimulating information and reflections for anyone interested in defense issues considered globally (technical, financial, political, social aspects, etc.).
    But regarding your article concerning export stamps, I think you are stretching the point a bit for the sake of demonstration.

    Because after reading your article, the only real example of an export stamp in the strict sense of the term (ie excess order proven by a State beyond its own needs) seems to me to be that of the order of Leopard tanks by the 'Germany.
    We will also observe that this “policy” only seems to be one-off because it only concerns a single piece of equipment – ​​“flagship” without a doubt – of German industry. It would indeed seem that there is no other example of German equipment ordered in excess by Germany (boats, artillery, etc.).

    Regarding Italy, I have not found any information indicating that the Italian state has ordered more PPAs than necessary for its fleet. It seems to me rather that it reassigned to Indonesia two PPAs which were being built for its national navy, and this to take advantage of an export opportunity (the delivery time having again become, as you point out, a criterion decisive for certain military orders).

    But this way of doing things is not specific to Italy as it has also been practiced by France for many years. I am thinking for example of the second French FREMM whose construction began in the summer of 2008 and which was sold to Morocco, another being sold in 2015 to Egypt, these two sales delaying the delivery of the FREMM intended to the national navy. The same discrepancy can be observed today regarding the IDF to deliver Greece as soon as possible. As recently as 2015, some of the Rafale on the Dassault assembly lines were reassigned to Egypt (again) to fulfill the first order for this aircraft as quickly as possible.

    Finally, we could undoubtedly mention (but I have more doubts on this subject) the case of the CAESAR cannon, certain examples of which were undoubtedly reassigned (from the French, Czech, Moroccan order?) to serve in an emergency. Ukraine.

    For me, these Italian and French examples are more a matter of State opportunism, absolutely not blameworthy, than of a voluntary buffer policy on the part of a State thus taking the risk of ultimately ending up with excess equipment. on its hands and whose financing would remain its responsibility.
    From this point of view, we will notice that the current incentives for Nexter to produce 12 guns per month on the grounds that the needs are such that they will easily find buyers places the risk of unsold goods on the industrialist, not on the French state…

    As for American policy in this area and its Foreign Military Sales, it is based less on a buffer policy than on a very large national order volume from the start, which makes it easier to add foreign orders. But the industrialist must still follow, which is not currently the case for Lockheed Martin with its F-35 (what delivery time for our Swiss neighbors for example?), nor for the American shipyards for what is submarines promised to Australia.

    In the end it seems to me that the “stamp” policy is rarely practiced and can only concern a few proven best-sellers, and not too expensive (the price of a Leopard is not that of an F- 35, of a Rafale a patrol boat, a frigate or even a submarine).

    This reaction, undoubtedly too long, will at least show you all the pleasure and interest I have in reading you and how much your articles and reflections lead your readers to engage in their own analyses, hoping that mine hold up to pretty much the road…



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