German Defense Contractor Rheinmetall Will Provide 25 Leopard-1 Tanks to Ukraine

( – Ukraine’s defenders are about to get another batch of military equipment, this time supplied by Germany. Rheinmetall, one of the country’s largest arms manufacturers, is working on refurbishing dozens of armored vehicles. They’re old, but at this point, Ukraine needs all the help it can get, and old tanks are better than nothing.

On November 14, Rheinmetall, a Düsseldorf-based industrial giant that produces a wide range of military equipment, announced that it was refurbishing 25 tanks, five armored recovery vehicles (ARVs), and two driver training vehicles for Ukraine. The work has been paid for by the German government. Rheinmetall didn’t disclose the exact cost but said it was tens of millions of euros.

Most of Ukraine’s tanks are Soviet-era T-72 and T-80 models, but the country has recently begun using British Challenger 2 and German Leopard 2 vehicles. The latest batch isn’t up to that standard; they’re Leopard 1A5 tanks, a 1980s upgrade of a design that first entered service in 1965. Compared with the more modern vehicles, which have 120mm guns and advanced composite armor, it has a smaller 105mm gun and is much less well protected. Its sights and electronics are also less sophisticated. However, it’s also much lighter, at around 40 tons—similar to Soviet tanks—compared with the 65–70 tons of modern Western designs.

The A5 version of the Leopard 1 was designed to be able to fight 1980s Soviet tanks on equal terms, and with many of their more modern vehicles destroyed in the war, which is nearing the end of its second year, that’s what the Russians are relying on now. Eventually, Germany plans to send Ukraine up to 178 Leopard 1s.

As well as the Leopards, Rheinmetall has contracted to refurbish 80 Marder infantry fighting vehicles for Ukraine. The company has also received orders for large quantities of ammunition, including 100,000 heavy mortar bombs, all paid for by the German government. If the war continues into a third year, Ukraine will have weapons to fight it with.

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