July 31 (UPI) -- The Hungarian army received four refurbished Leopard 2 tanks from its German manufacturer as it awaits delivery of 44 upgraded tanks starting in 2023.
While the tanks were handed over by maker Kraus-Maffei Wegmann on Thursday at an army base in Tata, Hungary, eight older versions of the Leopard 2A4HU variant will be provided for training purposes. Hungary will later receive 44 of the newest Leopard 2 variant, called the 2A7+, to replace Soviet-made T-72 tanks. Germany and Denmark currently use the upgraded tanks, and the purchase suggests some interoperability between the German, Danish and Hungarian armies. Each is a NATO member.
"Hungary is modernizing its land forces with Germany as a strategic partner," German State Secretary of Defense Thomas Silberhorn said.
The sale is part of a reported $2 billion purchase by Hungary of German tanks, howitzers and other battlefield support equipment. At least momentarily, Hungary is Germany's largest arms customer.
"They are very modern pieces of equipment, but the huge leap for Hungary will be the arrival of A7-type tanks in 2023," Hungarian Defense Minister Tibor Benko said earlier this week. He confirmed that another program to purchase Airbus helicopters will cost nearly $48 billion over the next five years. The figure is indicative of Hungary's eagerness to bring its military up to NATO standards.