Friday, July 22, 2011

Janes Defence Weekly July 13, 2011

The German Security Cabinet has given the green light to the sale of 270 new Leopard 2A7+ main battle tanks (MBTs) to Saudi Arabia, Jane's has learnt. The Cabinet, which is responsible for sanctioning German defence exports, made the decision on 27 June, along with agreeing a EUR 10 billion (USD 14 billion) defence co-operation programme with Algeria that includes providing two MEKO-class frigates. It is understood that the signing of a contract for the Leopard 2A7+S is dependent on Riyadh accepting a 60:40 workshare package in favour of the German consortium that makes the vehicle, comprising Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall. Neither of these companies had confirmed such an accord had been signed at the time of going to press. However, if a deal is agreed it will mark a major change in export policy for Germany in relation to the Middle East and implies the silent consent of both Israel and the US, since it is it is unlikely that Germany would have cleared such a deal without consulting these two countries. While Germany has started to allow exports of vehicles to the Middle East on a case-by-case basis, Jane's understands that there has always been a blanket ban on the sale of complete MBTs due to concerns that the exports could adversely affect the regional balance of power. However, an MBT sale to Saudi Arabia would be viewed as a potential counterweight to Iran, which has long been suspected of aspiring to a nuclear weapon capability.