Scheduled delivery of German Leopard tanks to Kiev set after 2024
German defense firm Rheinmetall said the time required to repair tanks means that they will be delivered to Kiev after this year
CEO of German Defense firm Rheinmetall Armin Papperger said that the delivery of Leopard battle tanks will take time to reach Ukraine due to maintenance work, the Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday. "Even if the decision is made tomorrow for us to send our Leopard tanks to Kiev, the delivery itself will have to take at least until the beginning of next year," Papperger told the German news outlet.
Rheinmetall currently owns 22 Leopard 2 tanks and 88 copies of the older Leopard 1 model, according to the report, citing Papperger. He said that the repair of decommissioned battle tanks would take "almost a year" since "the tanks are not only repainted but have to be revamped for war purposes. They are completely dismantled and then rebuilt."
Rheinmetall cannot repair the tanks without a contract, Papperger said, because the costs go beyond several hundred million euros. Leopard tanks could however play a decisive role in the war, he noted. "With battle tanks, an army can break through enemy lines and end a prolonged trench warfare. With the Leopard tanks, soldiers can advance tens of kilometers at a time."
The pressure on the German government to deliver Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine has recently increased. On Wednesday, Poland announced that it agreed to hand over Leopard II battle tanks to Kiev to be used in the battle against Russia. Other countries are now following suit, including Finland.
On Saturday, the UK became the first country to announce plans for the delivery of heavy battle tanks to Kiev. The supply of the Challenger 2 tanks and additional artillery systems are intended to assist Ukrainian forces "push back the Russian troops," said British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
The British government has likewise increased pressure on Chancellor Olaf Scholz to send battle tanks to Kiev. Germany plays a key role in this debate because the tanks were initially developed in Germany. As a rule, the transfer of armaments from German production to third parties must be approved.
The German army has already given up most of its Leopard tanks of older designs and exported them to Turkey, Greece, and Denmark, among other clients. The army still possesses around 300 modern versions but they have no plans of selling them. The army reportedly refused to provide additional details on the strengths, and equipment of associations, or units.
Germany has so far promised Ukraine Marder infantry fighting vehicles and Gepard anti-aircraft tanks. Papperger said Rheinmetall was ready to deliver 40 Marder IFVs. However, the prerequisite would be that Greece would initially forgo the second tranche of its delivery from a ring exchange. "Of course, we could give the remaining 20 'Marders' planned for Greece to Ukraine in a timely manner. More vehicles would follow in April because we are working under high pressure," said Papperger.