The Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles visited the armaments factory of the GDELS-Santa Barbara Sistemas company near Seville in southern Spain, where she verified the commissioning of six Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks, which will be sent to Ukraine predictably at the end of next week after the final firing tests at the training ground. The Spanish Minister of Defense has especially thanked the company GDELS-SBS but also all workers who have experienced this process as their own, the fine-tuning that has been done in record time, recalling that in these same facilities the Leopard 2E main battle tank used by the Spanish Army were manufactured.
Spain is willing to make a qualitative leap in its military support for Ukraine against the Russian invasion, according to government sources. The Spanish Government is willing to deliver to Ukraine the Leopard A4 main battle tanks that have been hibernating for a decade at the logistics base of the Spanish Army in Zaragoza. These tanks are part of the batch of 108 second-hand tanks that Germany sold to Spain in 1995, as a prelude to the Leopard manufacturing contract in Spain. Ministry of Defence’s intention was to convert them into recovery cars for engineers but, given the lack of budget, they opted to subject them to put them into long-term storage (remove batteries, oils and any other element that could deteriorate them) while awaiting the necessary funds.
In March 1994, the Spanish Ministry of Defence created Programa Coraza 2000 (Program Breastplate 2000), which focused on the procurement and integration of new armament for the Spanish army’s modernization. The program included the Leopard 2E and the Pizarro infantry combat vehicle, as well as the Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopter. The program’s scope extended to the integration of 108 Leopard 2A4s, which were leased to Spain in late 1995. Apart from procurement, Programa Coraza was meant to prepare the Spanish army logistically for the introduction of new matériel. The German government agreed to lend the Spanish army 108 Leopard 2A4s for training purposes for a period of five years. These vehicles were delivered between November 1995 and June 1996.
In 1998, Spain agreed to procure the ceded Leopard 2A4s and reduce production of the brand-new Leopard 2E to 219 vehicles. In 2005 it was declared that the 108 Leopard 2A4s were to cost Spain just €16.9m, to be paid by 2016. The Leopard 2A4s equipped X and XI Mechanized Infantry Brigade, which at the time formed part of Eurocorps. As production of the Leopard 2E began and these units received Leopard 2Es, their Leopard 2A4s re-equipped the Alcántara Armored Cavalry Regiment, based in Melilla. Spain’s Leopard 2E is based on the Leopard 2A6, and incorporates the add-on wedge armor of the Leopard 2A5 on the turret. The first Leopard 2Es were not manufactured until late 2003. This was largely due to the merging of Santa Bárbara Sistemas with General Dynamics.