The manufacturer of the Leopard MBTs, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann has responded to the queries from Qatar, by sending a delegation to the middle-eastern nation earlier this month. The delegation met senior Qatari government officials, as well as military heads. However, any deal involving the export of the MBTs requires authorization from the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. Already opposition politicians have raised objections to the deal with Saudi Arabia, citing the nation’s negative track record on human rights.
According to the report in Spiegel, both the German chancellor, and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology are in favour of a deal with Qatar. Defence analysts have said that the approval for the proposed deal with Qatar is going to be easier for the German authorities, since the nation is having a more or less tolerable record, as far as the human rights track record is considered. They also argue that the German politicians are unlikely to turn down the expensive deal, at a time when local defence manufacturers are facing a reduction in the market share for their products.
In addition to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Indonesia is also looking forward to the purchase of the Leopard MBTs. But similar to Saudi Arabia, the request from Indonesia is also likely to undergo close scrutiny, over the nation’s handling of the separatist struggle in the eastern province of Papua.
Originally designed for the West German Army, the Leopard 2 MBTs are currently used by the ground forces of close to 15 nations. Having a combat weight of around 60 tonnes, the tanks are capable of travelling at speeds of up to 42 miles, and are having a fuel storage capacity of 1,160 litres.