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In recent years there has been an increasing number of reports in the press complaining that in defense projects - including tank developments - in many cases the originally planned development time has been considerably exceeded.

This phenomenon is not a feature of the last few years, but occurred over 50 years ago in corresponding armaments projects in the early days of the Bundeswehr. In the article, project durations of various projects in the past are considered. This is understood to mean the period of time that has elapsed between the handing over of the tactical / military demands and the handover of the first vehicle to the troops. This definition is not primarily about the question of how quickly a contractor could deliver after the development contract was signed, but rather how long the troops had to wait for a weapon system after the need for a project start through a corresponding document was formulated.

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Representation of project durations of selected army projects (graphic: author)

In the first part of the article, selected tank projects of the Bundeswehr and their development time up to the handover of the first vehicle will be presented. In the second part of the article, selected projects are to be considered which, even after several years of development, could not be brought to series production in the end.

Tank development projects and their project duration

Land mine clearance equipment / mine clearance tank Keiler
The LSM program was characterized by extremely demanding military requirements (space security: 98 percent up to a depth of 30 cm) as well as by complex and difficult management within the framework of the three participating nations. 24 companies took part in the first invitation to tender and submitted a total of 80 proposed solutions, which had to be evaluated by the client. The high development risk and the expected cost increases then led to Italy and France withdrawing a few years after the start of the project. From 1979 Germany alone continued the project work.

Visionary representation of the landmine rapid clearing device from 1974 (graphic: author archive)

The first solution selected and implemented (including a hydrostatic drive) led to depressing results. 1983 had to be a new approach with new tenders. In 1984 MaK (Kiel) was selected as the general contractor. After the construction of two company test models and their testing and troop trials, the implementation permit was granted in 1991. Since the costs had increased by more than five times (36.8 million euros) compared to the original plan (6.7 million euros), considerable budgetary problems arose which delayed the conclusion of the procurement contract by around two years. Two years after the procurement contract was signed, the first Keiler mine clearance tanks were handed over to the troops in March 1997. This project could only be brought to a successful conclusion after many years through a high level of motivation and persistent behavior of all those involved in the project on the German side.

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