Austria's Army is Gearing Up: Large-Scale Investment in Wheeled Tanks, Helicopters and Aircraft

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: February 13, 2024; 16:06 ♦ (Vindobona)

The Austrian Armed Forces is facing a significant expansion of its vehicle fleet and aircraft fleet. The Ministry of Defense under department head Klaudia Tanner had already planned and made several new purchases since 2021.

The procurement of additional wheeled armored vehicles of the “Pandur Evolution” brand for the Austrian Army is apparently on the home stretch. / Picture: © Bundesheer/Robert Giessauf

According to a report in the “Standard”, the Ministry of Defense, under the leadership of department head Klaudia Tanner (ÖVP), is planning to purchase 225 more examples of the ultra-modern Pandur Evolution wheeled tank. The investment for this procurement is estimated at around 1.8 billion euros. This decision follows a previous purchase of 30 units of the same type in 2021, which at the time represented an investment of approximately 106 million euros.

The Pandur Evolution, produced in Vienna by General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDLS), is a further development of the proven Pandur II. This armored vehicle offers soldiers protection against shrapnel, infantry fire, and mines, and is characterized by its mobility and high speed. It is primarily intended for use by infantry units. The official announcement of the conclusion of the contract is expected at the beginning of next week.

New aircraft for the armed forces

In parallel with the expansion of the wheeled armored vehicle fleet, the Federal Army has strengthened its aviation capacities by putting new Leonardo AW169 helicopters into service. These helicopters achieved Initial Operational Capability at the end of January and are therefore ready for a variety of tasks, including personnel transport. The training of pilots and technicians was completed in Italy after completing more than 850 flight hours as part of the system implementation.

This modernization also marks the end of the era of the Alouette III helicopters, which will be retired after 55 years of service. In addition to passenger transport, the new AW169 will also be used in disaster control and other assistance tasks. Basic pilot training will continue to take place in Italy for the time being, while advanced training can already take place in Austria.

In addition to these expansions, the Department of Defense plans to purchase four new Embraer C-390 transport aircraft to replace the older Hercules transport aircraft. These new aircraft will be able to transport, among other things, a Pandur Evolution wheeled tank and a Black Hawk helicopter, underlining their versatility and strategic importance.

With these comprehensive investments in wheeled tanks, helicopters, and transport aircraft, the Austrian Armed Forces are strengthening their operational capabilities and sending a clear signal for the modernization and increase in efficiency of their armed forces.

Austrian MoD