WARSAW, Poland — Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas has announced the country’s government aims to sign a letter of intent with Germany to purchase Leopard 2 tanks for the land forces.

“The Defence Resources Council of the Ministry of National Defence, taking into account the detailed market analysis and military assessment carried out by the Lithuanian Armed Forces and the Defence Resources Agency, has approved the proposal to … [propose] to the State Defence Council to send a letter of intent to the German Ministry of Defence regarding the acquisition of Leopard tanks,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

The Lithuanian military evaluated “the German Leopard, the American Abrams and the [South] Korean Black Panther tanks,” according to the minister.

The key evaluation criteria the military used to select its preferred vehicle included the price and maintenance costs, operational environment, mobility, safety, adaptability, protection, firepower, and interoperability, Anušauskas said.

He did not disclose the estimated value of the planned procurement and the number, or variant, of Leopard 2 tanks to be purchased.

The latest development comes after Lithuania’s chief of defense, Lt. Gen. Valdemaras Rupšys, said in March the Baltic nation intends to acquire up to 54 tanks to bolster the combat capacities of the land forces.

Under the plan, Lithuania is to establish a division-sized unit within its armed forces in reaction to Russia’s ongoing invasion of its neighbor Ukraine. The unit will include infantry fighting vehicles and tanks, among other vehicles. The State Defence Council approved the initiative in May.

A growing number of Eastern European allies are advancing plans to acquire German-made tanks. Among others, the Czech Republic is planning to buy up to 50 new Leopard 2A7+ tanks.

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.

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