German weapons manufacturer Rheinmetall Group will complete the development and begin production of its new KF51 Panther main battle tank (MBT) in Hungary, according to reports in the German newspaper Handelsblatt.
Handelsblatt reported that Hungary aims to be the first country to equip its military with the new Panther MBT from Rheinmetall and that the Hungarian government has agreed with the arms company that the Panther MBT will be fully developed in Hungary and then manufactured there.
During a presentation at Eurosatory in Paris last year, the CEO of Rheinmetall, Armin Papperger, unveiled the Panther as the next-generation tank to replace the Leopard 2 MBT. Rheinmetall anticipates a demand for as many as 500 to 800 Panther MBTs from NATO countries between 2025 and 2035, with an even more substantial market of 5,000 to 8,000 tanks from 2035 and beyond.
Rheinmetall recently announced that it wanted to build a Panther MBT factory in Ukraine. “I think there are a lot of customers,” Papperger stated. “There will be a lot of customers in the next 20 years who need to replace their old battle tanks.”
Meanwhile, a Franco-German collaboration is currently underway to develop a next-generation battle tank that will work in tandem with other units. The Main Ground Combat System tank (MGCS) is set to be introduced in the middle of the next decade, while the Panther remains available for purchase. However, it is still in development and requires a new chassis as it is currently based on that of its competitor, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW).
In August, Rheinmetall officially opened its new armoured vehicle factory in Zalaegerszeg, Hungary. The factory, which covers an area of 20,000 square meters, will produce the Lynx KF41 infantry fighting vehicles for the Hungarian Armed Forces and other potential customers.