Will Germany modernize the Leopards for Afrin?

It has become certain that the fellowship of weapons will be the most important step in the easing of tension between the Merkel and Erdoğan governments. The German government reportedly wants to approve the plan to modernize the Turkish army’s tanks.

At a time when the forces allied to the Erdoğan regime come to the fore with plans to invade and attack Afrin and other areas in Western Kurdistan, Germany is preparing to take on the task of modernizing the Turkish army.

It has come to light that the dirty negotiations over the German citizens held hostage by the Erdoğan regime which was admitted and then rescinded by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel have carried on over weapons trade.

Weekly news journal Der Spiegel’s latest issue includes an article that says the federal German government wants to greenlight the plan to modernize Turkish army’s Leopard type tanks by Rheinmetall, one of the most prominent defense companies in the country.

The plan emerged in the meeting Gabriel held with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in early January, and defense units of the two governments are to convene over the matter as soon as possible.


The Turkish army wants to fortify the defense of the Leopard type tanks they previously purchased from Germany against bombed traps and landmines. In the invasion of Syria launched by the Turkish army in the summer of 2016, some 10 tanks had been damaged due to their weak defenses.

Turkey had appealed to Germany to modernize the tanks last March. But the bid Rheinmetall wanted to take on was shelved due to high tensions with the Erdoğan regime. There are reports that say shortly before Çavuşoğlu visited Germany, Rheinmetall administrators met with Gabriel and reiterated their insistence to take on the job of modernizing the tanks.


Rheinmetall and Turkey’s Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation (MKEK) had signed various deals regarding ammunition manufacturing and modernization in the past. The project included the modernization of the Leopard type tanks as well as the manufacturing of ammunition for Turkish fighter jets in Turkey.

The bid for the first 100 to 200 tank phase in Erdoğan regime’s 7 billion Euro tank project Altay had gone to Rheinmetall and Turkish truck and bus manufacturer BMC. The two firms founded a company called RBSS in Ankara, and Rheinmetall holds 40% of the shares of this RBSS company.

The federal German government has to make a decision on the first order of 1000 panzer-type tanks this year. Rheinmetall CEO Armin Papperger had previously stated that many projects for the Turkish army are on hold. In 2015, Papperger had decided to manufacture the tanks for the Turkish army in Turkey and had visited Erdoğan in his palace to that end.