The Ukrainian government has awarded Rheinmetall a contract for Leopard 1 systems, including 25 main battle tanks Leopard 1A5, five Bergepanzer 2 armoured recovery vehicles and two driver training tanks. The order, financed by Germany and worth a figure in the upper-two-digit million-euro range, also includes training, logistics, spare parts, maintenance and other support services. Delivery is due to take place in 2024. The Leopard 1 main battle tanks are currently being overhauled and readied for use at Rheinmetall’s plants in Unterlüß and Kassel. Rheinmetall thus continues to support Ukraine with a steady flow of tactical vehicles.
Originally, Rheinmetall intended to purchase Leopard 1 tanks from the Swiss defense company Ruag to provide them to Ukraine. However, due to Switzerland’s neutrality laws, no export permit was granted, prompting Rheinmetall to explore alternative sources. The company has acquired 50 Leopard 1A5 tanks from the Belgian company OIP Land Systems, as reported by Handelsblatt from industry sources. The main battle tanks will now be retrofitted at the German locations of the Düsseldorf-based corporation for use in Ukraine. Ultimately, around 30 units of the 50 combat tanks will be delivered to Ukraine.
The Group has previously been tasked with supplying Ukraine with a total of eighty Marder infantry fighting vehicles. Rheinmetall is ready to supply a further twenty Marder IFVs as soon as it receives an order to this effect. In late 2023 and early 2024, Ukraine will also be taking delivery of five Caracal airmobile-capable vehicles. On behalf of the Dutch and Danish governments, moreover, next year the Group will be supplying Ukraine with fourteen Leopard 2A4 tanks. In addition to vehicles, Rheinmetall is aiding the Ukrainian armed forces with ammunition, drones, medical facilities, etc. Most of these are already in-country, where they have proved their mettle in ongoing operations.
The Kampfpanzer Leopard 1 is a main battle tank designed by Porsche and manufactured by Krauss-Maffei in West Germany, first entering service in 1965. Developed in an era when HEAT warheads were thought to make conventional heavy armour of limited value, the Leopard design focused on effective firepower and mobility instead of heavy protection. It featured moderate armour, only effective against low caliber autocannons and heavy machine guns, giving it a high power-to-weight ratio. The Ukrainians currently being trained to operate the more than 100 Leopard 1 main battle tanks that Denmark is donating together with the Netherlands and Germany. The training activity is part of the joint donation with Germany and the Netherlands that was announced back in February.