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From Leopards to Panzers: German Tank Division Swallows Dutch Mech Brigade

The Royal Netherlands Army brigade will soon be part of the German Bundeswehr's 1st Panzer Division, according to the two countries' Defense Ministers.

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Speaking at their respective parliaments last week, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and her Dutch counterpart Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said that the Royal Netherlands Army's 43rd Mechanized Brigadeis would be integrated into the Bundeswehr's 1st Panzer Division.

A formal agreement is expected to be inked before the end of this year, and the integration-related work will start as of 2016, media reports said. The new unit is set to become operational at the end of 2019.

Hennis-Plasschaert touted the forthcoming integration as "another groundbreaking step in Dutch-German cooperation.., which will greatly improve European operational capabilities."

© Flickr / FaceMePLSThe Leopard 2 tank which is due to be equipped with a new gun
The Leopard 2 tank which is due to be equipped with a new gun  - Sputnik International
The Leopard 2 tank which is due to be equipped with a new gun

Ahead of the integration, the 43rd Mechanized Brigade will be reinforced by a German Panzer Battalion, which will comprise a Dutch Leopard tank company with 100 personnel to be based in Bergen-Hohne, a NATO military training area in in the state of Lower Saxony in northern Germany.

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The remainder of the 43rd Mechanized Brigade will reportedly be stationed in the Netherlands.

Germany plans to upgrade the Netherlands' 16 remaining Leopard 2A6 tanks to A7 standard and pool them with its own Leopard 2 tanks, in a bid to ensure commonality.

Last year, the Dutch 11th airmobile brigade officially joined the German Army in what was described by Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert as a "historic moment", which will lift "German-Dutch cooperation … to a new level."

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