German armsmaker Rheinmetall could deliver the repaired Leopard 2 battle tanks from Germany to Ukraine by 2024. However, it would require a confirmed order for repairs to be started, Bild newspaper reported.
Germany had earlier announced that it would supply Ukraine with 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicle to repel Russian forces.
Kyiv also requested heavier vehicles like the Leopards. This would be a significant increase in Western support for Ukraine. However, Robert Habeck Economy Minister stated earlier this month that delivery of the Leopard tanks was not impossible. The German army currently has 350 Leopard 2 tanks, as opposed to the 4,000 battle tanks that were available at the heights of the Cold War.
Papperger explained to Bild that Rheinmetall would need to repair the tanks in its stock, which includes at least 22 Leopard 2 tanks as well as 88 Leopard 1 tanks, for several hundred million Euros.
He said: “The vehicles must all be dismantled and rebuilt.”
Papperger stated that the firm also owns 100 Marder vehicles. However, these would need repairs which could take seven to eight more months before they can be used.
Rheinmetall didn’t respond to an email request for comment on Sunday (15 January).
Germany is now one of Ukraine’s most important military supporters after Russia’s invasion last year. This overcomes a taboo that stems from Germany’s bloody 20th-century history of sending weapons to conflict areas.
Critics say that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, his ruling SPD, and his party are still too slow, waiting on allies first, instead of taking responsibility for Germany’s role as the West power closest to Ukraine.
The law prohibits Germany’s defense industry from making tanks for stock-keeping. Experts say that even if production was increased, it could take up to two years before new tanks are ready for use.
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