The Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (NDMA) announced on its website on 28 January that winter trials for Norway’s next main battle tank (MBT) have begun at the Rena camp in Østerdalen. Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) is offering the Leopard 2A7 as Norway’s next MBT, competing with Hyundai Rotem’s K2 Black Panther. The two companies have sent two tanks each to Norway for the trials for a new tank for the Norwegian Army, with a contract to be signed by the end of the year and deliveries planned from 2025. The tanks will undergo extensive mobility and firing tests for evaluation, but the NDMA does not plan to select a winner yet after the winter trials.
Leopard 2A7 and K2 Black Panther are fighting for a big contract and they will be tested in Norwegian winter conditions. Two suppliers are currently fighting for a contract for tanks, and the Norwegian Ministry of Defense plans to sign a contract by the end of 2022. Over the next four weeks, the main battle tanks will undergo a thorough winter test to see how they cope with Norwegian winter and nature. The appearance of the Black Panther in the auction is a manifestation of the deepening cooperation between Seoul and Oslo, which began with the recent acquisition of the K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer in South Korea.
The K2 Black Panther is a next generation South Korean main battle tank designed by the South Korean Agency for Defense Development and manufactured by Hyundai Rotem. Developed as a modern main battle tank that will replace most of the remaining M48 Patton tanks and complement the K1 series of main battle tanks currently fielded by the South Korean military, the K2 Black Panther combines an auto-loaded 55 caliber 120 mm main gun, advanced composite armour along with hard and soft-kill active protection systems. Mass production commenced in 2013 and the first K2s were deployed with the armed forces in June 2014.
The Leopard 2A7 main battle tank was developed by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann in cooperation with the German Army. It is a further development of the Leopard 2A6 MBT. It includes some subsystems of the Leopard 2 Peace Support Operation variant. The Leopard 2A7 is intended for urban warfare, low intensity conflicts, as well as conventional military operations. Currently it is one of the best main battle tanks in the world. German Army plans to upgrade about 50-150 Leopard 2 tanks to the 2A7 standard. In 2013, Qatar ordered 62 of these MBTs. These are known as Leopard 2A7Q. The Leopard 2A7 is a modular upgrade package, so other Leopard 2 tanks can be upgraded to this standard.