Federal government wants to buy decommissioned Leopard tanks from Switzerland

A Panzer 87 Leopard of the Swiss Army

The model is based on the Leopard 2A4, but has been continuously developed.

(Photo: picture alliance/KEYSTONE)

Berlin In Switzerland, the federal government has expressed an interest in buying back decommissioned Leopard 2 main battle tanks in order to pass them on to industry. A corresponding request had gone to the Swiss government, the defense ministries in Bern and Berlin confirmed on Friday. The spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Defense did not want to say how many tanks are involved.

On February 23, Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) and Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) wrote to Swiss Defense Minister Viola Amherd about the matter. There is an increased international demand for battle tanks and the associated spare parts, the two ministers said in the letter, according to the Reuters news agency.

The tanks should not be forwarded to Ukraine, but should remain in Germany or other NATO and EU countries. This would fill gaps created by the sale of tanks to Ukraine. In addition, the supply of spare parts should be improved.

Germany intends to hand over 18 Leopard 2A6s to Ukraine by the end of March. More tanks are tied in the training of Ukrainian soldiers.

Other nations have also agreed to surrender part of their Leopard fleet to Ukraine, including Poland, Norway, Portugal and Spain. Other countries, such as the Czech Republic, which have sold Soviet-era tanks to Ukraine, have been promised Leopard 2 as a replacement.

Switzerland can only sell once the parliament has decommissioned the tanks

Switzerland still has 134 Panzer 87 Leopard WE in active service. These are partially Swiss-built and further developed vehicles based on the older Leopard 2A4 type. Another 96 are decommissioned but not yet officially decommissioned for Parliament to decide. This is important because under Swiss law only decommissioned material can be sold.

>> Read here: Switzerland could release cheetah ammunition for Ukraine, but it may take a while

“From the point of view of the army, it would be possible in principle, minus the need for the full equipment of the six mechanized battalions, to do without a limited number of battle tanks,” said the Swiss Ministry of Defense.

Citing its neutrality status, Switzerland attaches great importance to the fact that no weapons it owns are delivered to Ukraine. So far, the Confederates have also blocked themselves from releasing ammunition for the Gepard anti-aircraft tank from Germany, which is being used successfully in the Ukraine.

>> Read here: Germany could deliver up to 160 Leopard 1 main battle tanks to Ukraine

As the spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Defense said on Friday, Switzerland is not the only country where the federal government is currently trying to get Leopard tanks. There are talks with many partners.

The German industry is trying to make equipment available to replenish stocks of the Bundeswehr and partner nations, said the spokesman. The armaments group Rheinmetall had already bought back 42 no longer used Panzer 87 Leopards from Switzerland in 2010.

With agency material

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