Delivery of 187 Leopard 1 tanks approved by federal government

According to Defense Minister Pistorius, Ukraine will receive further support: dozens of Leopard 1 tanks are to be delivered from various countries.

The German armaments industry can supply Ukraine with up to 178 Leopard 1 A5 main battle tanks. The Federal Ministry of Defense and the Federal Ministry of Economics, which is responsible for arms exports, said on Tuesday that the necessary approval had been granted. A joint statement by the defense ministries of Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands also said that Ukraine would receive “at least 100” Leopard 1 tanks in the coming months.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD), who unexpectedly arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday, had previously announced this. The stay was initially kept secret for security reasons. Read more here.
Boris Pistorius (right), Federal Minister of Defence, with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, in the Presidential Palace in Kiev on Tuesday. (Those: Kay Nietfeld)

80 tanks by the end of 2023

The Leopard 1 will be delivered in stages, Pistorius said. 20 to 25 tanks should be delivered by the summer, and up to 80 by the end of the year. The aim is to have more than 100 in the course of the first or second quarter of 2024. This means that at least three Ukrainian battalions should be equipped, including the material to be procured for spare parts and ammunition. In addition, the training of 600 sergeants has begun.

He hopes that the first tanks can be delivered to Ukraine before Russia’s expected spring offensive. “Help from Germany came relatively quickly, we are now waiting for the appointment on the Leopard 2 A4, this is another part of the partners and allies. Everything indicates that it will come on time – and we really hope so!”, said Pistorius to World TV.

After a lengthy discussion two weeks ago, the federal government decided to hand over 14 more modern Leopard 2 to Ukraine and to allow allies such deliveries of the weapon system developed in Germany. Marder armored personnel carriers and the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system are also to go to Ukraine.

Leopard 1 package from Italy

Now it has become known that the Chancellery had been negotiating discreetly with the defense industry over the past few months in order to complete the current Leopard 1 deal. On the one hand, the Flensburger Fahrzeugbau Gesellschaft should now prepare about 90 Leopard 1 models, which have been stored there for years, for use in the Ukraine, the “Spiegel” reported.

The second Leopard 1 package comes from Italy. The armament manufacturer Rheinmetall secured an option for 88 stored Leopard 1 tanks months ago. After an export license for the Ukraine then became apparent, Rheinmetall initiated the purchase of the tanks and will now modernize them. The federal government will bear the costs for tanks and repairs. The money comes from a pot to strengthen Ukraine, according to the “Spiegel”.

Finally retired in 2003

Industry circles said on Tuesday that a little fewer tanks could eventually be delivered because some of the stored tanks have to be cannibalized for spare parts during the repair.

The Leopard 1 is the first main battle tank built for the German Army after World War II. 4,700 examples were produced from 1965 to the mid-1980s. The Bundeswehr finally retired the Leopard 1 tank in 2003 and replaced it with the Leopard 2. The new model, the Leopard 2, is more heavily armed, faster and better armored than its predecessor.

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