Germany approves delivery of Leopard 1 tanks

Leopard 1 stored in Belgium

The tank was exported to numerous countries.

(Photo: ddp/abaca press)

Berlin Following the commitment to provide modern Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks to Ukraine, the German government is also paving the way for the delivery of older Leopard 1 models from industrial stocks. A corresponding export permit has been granted, said government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit on Friday, without giving details. The “Süddeutsche Zeitung” reported about it first.

Around 4,700 examples of the Leopard 1 manufactured by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) were built. In the Bundeswehr, the Panzer tank was decommissioned in 2003. However, companies such as Rheinmetall or the Flensburger Fahrzeug-Gesellschaft (FFG) have bought numerous examples. For example, FFG uses the Leopard 1 chassis as a basis for building bridge-laying or mine-clearing vehicles.

However, the Leopard 1 has also been exported to numerous countries that should also still have stocks, such as Denmark, Belgium, Norway or the Netherlands. The industry tried to obtain an export license shortly after the start of the Ukraine war.

Rheinmetall currently has 88 Leopard 1 in stock. According to CEO Armin Papperger, the company wants to buy and process more copies. Some of the battle tanks, which are often stored outdoors, are in poor condition and therefore need to be refurbished. This might take a few months.

At the end of January, after consultation with the United States and other allies, the federal government decided to also make main battle tanks available to Ukraine. Initially, the 203rd Panzer Battalion in Augustdorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, is to hand over 14 Leopard 2s of the relatively modern A6 variant.

Battle tank coalition forms

Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) said during a visit to the battalion this week that the fee hurt because training and exercise activities were suffering. But there is no alternative if you want to support Ukraine.

Boris Pistorius

Defense Minister Pistorius assumes that the promised Leopard 2 tanks from Germany will be operational from the second quarter.

(Photo: IMAGO/Chris Emil Janssen)

Pistorius promised that he would do his utmost to ensure that the unit was re-equipped with the latest generation of Leopard 2A7 tanks as soon as possible. But this takes time.

With the release of Leopard 1 exports, the number of main battle tanks supplied to Ukraine by Western countries is increasing. In addition to Germany, Poland, Finland, Sweden, Canada and Spain, among others, want to hand over Leopard tanks to the Ukrainian armed forces. Kyiv will also receive Challenger and Abrams main battle tanks from Great Britain and the USA.

The Ukraine is dependent on this support in order to be able to defend itself against the Russian attack and to be able to launch counter-offensives, at least locally. In the Bakhmut area, the Ukrainian units are currently getting more and more into trouble. The tank fleet that has been in the country to date largely comes from Soviet stocks.

>> Read here: All current developments in the Ukraine war in the Newsblog

Defense Minister Pistorius assumes that the promised Leopard 2 tanks from Germany will be operational from the second quarter. First, the Ukrainian crews have to be trained in Germany. He is also in ongoing talks with other countries to quickly deploy two tank battalions to Ukraine first.

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