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Ukrainian soldiers training in a Leopard 1A5

Photo: Annegret Hilse / REUTERS

The armaments company Rheinmetall has secured another order from the German government to support Ukraine. According to the company, 25 Leopard 1A5 main battle tanks were to be delivered. In addition, the package for the Armed Forces of Ukraine also includes five armoured recovery vehicles and two driving school tanks.

The order value is "in the upper double-digit million euro range and also includes training, logistics, spare parts, repair and other support services," Rheinmetall said. The funding is provided by the Federal Government. The tanks would be delivered next year.

The Leopard 1A5 was retired by the Bundeswehr a good ten years ago. However, many examples of the type were put into storage after retirement. In the course of Germany's support for Ukraine, which was attacked by Russia in violation of international law, the weapons manufacturers were instructed to get the Leopard 1A5 back on the road as quickly as possible.

Leopard 1A5 causes problems

Recently, serious problems had become known with the delivery of the elderly Leopards. According to SPIEGEL information, Kiev temporarily refused to import a tranche of ten Leopard tanks in September. The reason for this was that some of the main battle tanks were in considerable need of repair. Since they have neither trained technicians nor sufficient spare parts, it makes no sense to transfer the Leopards to Ukraine (read more about this here).

Rheinmetall has already secured numerous orders from Ukraine following the Russian invasion. On behalf of the Dutch and Danish governments, the Group will also supply the Ukrainian armed forces with 14 Leopard main battle tanks of the more modern 2A4 type in the coming year.

Pistorius pessimistic on EU ammunition plans

At the international level, meanwhile, there is a shortage of ammunition supplies for Ukraine. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) apparently no longer expects the EU to be able to fulfill its plans to supply one million artillery shells to Ukraine by spring 2024. "The one million will not be reached. You have to assume that," Pistorius said on Tuesday at a meeting of EU defense ministers in Brussels.

The EU's progress in supporting Ukraine was the top topic on the agenda of the ministerial meeting on Tuesday. On 20 March, the EU states promised Ukraine that they would provide one million new artillery shells for the defensive war against Russia within twelve months.

Pistorius also cited insufficient production capacities as the reason for the expected failure to meet the target. By concluding framework agreements, Germany has made a major contribution to increasing capacities, he explained. The production processes, however, are "as they are". Not even a decision on a war economy could lead to production starting tomorrow and meeting demand.