KNDS France promotes the Franco German EMBT in Egypt. „Leo-Leclerc“ could replace the Abrams and the T-62

 08. 12. 2023      Category: Ground forces

Although it has been promoting its new Panther KF51 battle tank for over a year now, the German Rheinmetall group has made no appearance at the EDEX 23 arms fair, which has just opened in Cairo. This absence may seem odd in view of the needs that the Egyptian army may soon be expressing to modernise its armoured component.

Egypt currently has around 1,300 M1A1 Abrams heavy battle tanks and 2,700 M60A1/A3 Patton tanks, of which around 550 have been mothballed. Not to mention the 500 Soviet-designed T-62s still in service, 300 of which have been stored. The Egyptian army could therefore represent a significant market. Provided, of course, that it has the necessary budget to acquire new tanks.

Picture: Franco-German EMBT (Enhanced Main Battle Tank) | KNDS
Picture: Franco German EMBT (Enhanced Main Battle Tank) | KNDS

To do this, Cairo could rely on the military aid it has received from the United States, which amounts to 1.3 billion dollars a year, since the signing of the Camp David agreements with Israel. However, this aid is regularly criticised in Congress. In October, the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Ben Cardin, blocked a $235 million envelope intended for Egypt for lack of "progress on human rights".

That said, another option for the Egyptian army would be to turn to Moscow. Even if the two countries have good relations, and it has been said that Cairo intended to supply 40,000 shells to Russian forces as part of the war in Ukraine, Russian industry would have to be able to supply. What's more, the latest Russian tank, the T-14 Armata, has yet to prove its worth. Finally, Egypt could, and more than certainly would, face US sanctions under the CAATSA law.

Among the other options, China's Norinco could be interested, with its VT4 tank, which has been sold to Pakistan, Thailand and Nigeria. So could South Korea's Hanwha Aerospace, with its K2 Black Panther. And in truth, it seems best placed to land a potential Egyptian order, given that it has already signed an agreement with Cairo for local production and delivery of K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers.

The Chinese VT4 MBT

The MBT-3000/VT4 is a Chinese battle tank. It is being developed by Norinco. The mock-up was presented at Eurosatory in Paris in June 2012. The MBT-3000, Main Battle Tank, is developed from the MBT-2000/VN1 tank, for the export market under the name VT4. It is equipped with improved fire control and protection. Its 125 mm gun is controlled by the automatic carousel loading system installed in the turret well. In 2014, the new prototype received a remotely operated turret armed with a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun.

The South-Korean K2 MBT

The K2 Black Panther is a South Korean battle tank. It was developed in the 2000s by Hyundai Rotem, and it entered service in 2014. The K2 Black Panther is armed with a 120mm/55 cannon. It has an automatic loader installed with 16 ready-to-fire shells. It is also equipped with 40 shells. The suspension is oleopneumatic with variable ground clearance. The initial production target of 780 tanks was reduced to 297 units. Production of the first series of 100 tanks was completed in 2017. Currently, a huge order of 1000 units was placed by Poland, where about 800 tanks will be locally produced.


However, KNDS France, or Nexter, intends to try its luck, with the Franco German EMBT (Enhanced Main Battle Tank), presented as a demonstrator at the 2022 edition of the EuroSatory air-land armaments show in Paris. In simple terms, it is a "Leo-Leclerc", with a Leopard chassis and a Leclerc turret. Incidentally, KNDS Germany, or Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), was not present in Cairo either. Although the Leopard 2A8 could be of interest to the Egyptian army. "Nexter, a KNDS company, is developing its partnership with Egypt to modernise the armoured units of the Egyptian armed forces", the manufacturer stated in a press release issued on 4 December.

"The Enhanced Main Battle Tank (EMBT), first 4th generation MBT combining, in a new enhanced design, features such as a 22 rounds 120mm autoloader, a 7 roadwheels chassis, and a 1500 hp powerpack. This new system demonstrator is armed with the 120mm gun and autoloader of the Leclerc MBT plus the latest technologies such as a new digital architecture, an ARX 30, a 4th crew as deputy commander, a hard-kill active protection system (APS)."

As KNDS says, this EMBT is equipped with an ARX30 (30 mm) remotely operated turret, an active protection system: "It is made for the close protection of a platform, a convoy or a company level unit. An airburst ammunition is under development to fight against drones and loitering ammunitions." However, the description is less detailed than that given at EuroSatory. At that time, for example, there was talk of coupling the 120mm turret with the new-generation Shard ammunition. It remains to be seen how it will be received by Egyptian officials. Who might also be interested in the new VBCI MkII T40 infantry fighting vehicle, the Jaguar armoured reconnaissance and combat vehicle or, in another field, the CAESAR 6×6 and 8×8 self-propelled howitzer.

 Author: Peter Bass