Under the German government’s “Ringtausch” equipment exchange programme, Rheinmetall will soon be supplying the Slovak Ground Forces with main battle tanks and other military hardware. The Slovak armed forces will be receiving 15 Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks. The order includes ammunition as well as a service package encompassing training and spare parts. The first vehicle is due to be shipped in December 2022, with delivery to be complete by the end of 2023. This has now been contractually agreed in Brussels between representatives of both countries and Rheinmetall. The “Ringtausch” is a procedure developed by the German government in cooperation with Germany’s neighbours and NATO allies to support Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression.
Specifically, NATO member states are providing Ukraine with Soviet-era heavy equipment in exchange for readily available Western military systems. Working in close cooperation with the German Ministry of Defence and the Slovak authorities and armed forces, Rheinmetall swiftly negotiated the necessary contracts. These were signed on 15th November 2022 in Brussles by Martin Sklenár, Defence Policy Director of the Slovak Ministry of Defence; Vice Admiral Carsten Stawitzki, National Armaments Director in the German Ministry of Defence; as well as Dr. Björn Bernhard, CEO of Rheinmetall’s Business Unit Tactical Vehicles and Eduardo Veen Martinez, Executive Vice President Rheinmetall Business Unit Tactical Vehicles.
Work on the vehicles has already begun. The property of Rheinmetall, the vehicles now being made available are overhauled Leopard 2A4 Main Battle Tanks formerly in the inventories of various user states. Leopard 2A4 tanks along with ammunition, spare parts and crew training from Germany in exchange for giving Ukraine its 30 Soviet-era BVP-1 infantry fighting vehicles. The Leopard 2 is a 3rd generation main battle tank originally developed by Krauss-Maffei in the 1970s for the West German Army. Various versions have served in the armed forces of Germany and 13 other European countries, as well as several non-European nations, including Canada, Chile, Indonesia and Singapore.
BMP-1s were produced under license by Czechoslovakia (BVP-1). 2,252 ordered in 1973 and delivered between 1973 and 1989. Slovak Armed Forces intends to decommission their military equipment inherited following the breakup of former Czechoslovakia in 1993. Previously, Slovakia gifted a Russian-produced S-300 air-defense missile system, 155mm Zuzana 2 self-propelled howitzers (SPHs), Grad multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRSs) to Ukraine. More recently, reports of a potential sale of 11 MiG-29 combat aircraft from the Slovak Air Force’s inventory to Ukraine have emerged. Ukrainian pilots already fly the MiG-29 and so there would be little additional training needed to put Slovakia’s jets to immediate use.