Saudi Arabia is interested in buying 600-800 Leopard 2 tanks from Germany, compared to the 300 previously reported, according to Bild am Sonntag. The German tabloid, which is often used by German politicians to deliver media messages, quotes "government circles" as the source of the Saudi Leopard 2 story.
Krauss-Maffei Wegmann photo of Leopard 2A7+
The newspaper reports resistance to the sale in the cabinet of Chancellor Angela Merkel and in the defense and foreign ministries but support in the economics ministry because it "could guarantee the future of tank producers Krauss Maffei-Wegmann and Rheinmetall, which need new markets because of the restructuring of the Bundeswehr." An early June meeting of Germany's Federal Security Council, which is composed of the chancellor and eight ministers and would have to approve the deal, has been delayed, according to Bild am Sonntag.
The tabloid reports that the contract for the sale of the first tranche of 300 Leopard 2s is ready for signing and that the Saudis would like to do so before the start of Ramadan on 20 July following a visit earlier this month by the Saudi defense minister, Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, to General Dynamics Santa Barbara, which will build the tanks under license.
Bild am Sontag quotes a German ministry source as saying the Saudis want "brand new tanks, preferably gold-plated" instead of second hand Leopard 2s.