February 28, 2002
The Finnish general staff confirmed on 21 February that the Defense Forces were going to purchase about 100 barely-used Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks from Germany for $86 million. However, they also wanted to distribute them to the rapid response brigades at Pori, Karelia and Kainuu while pulling 250 T54/55 and T-72 MBTs out of service.
LTC Pekka Visuri (ret'd), a former instructor of tank battle strategy and currently a security policy analyst, considered the general staff's plan strange and uneconomical. Distributing them in small groups was uneconomical, especially since the tanks could only be properly utilized on the terrain of southern Finland. He argued that even if one of Finland's current tank formations was disbanded, 100 MBTs was sufficient to keep the other.
Kyosti Halonen, current commander of the Tank Brigade, estimated that the Leopard training could begin in 2005. The Defense Forces expected the German tanks to remain operational until at least the end of the 2020s.
Meanwhile, Turkey has decided to modernize the Fire Control Systems of it's 162 Leopard 1's since Germany has refused to export more-modern versions. Aselsan, a Turkish armament electronics company, was awarded the contract. - Adam Geibel