German firm says Leopard tanks can’t be delivered until 2024

TEHRAN, Jan. 15 (MNA) – German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall would not be able to deliver battle-ready Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine until 2024, the company’s chief executive said, according to media.

Repair and refurbishment requirements mean it would take until the beginning of next year to deliver the tanks, “even if the decision to send our Leopard tanks to Kyiv came tomorrow,” Rheinmetall CEO Armin Papperger told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is yet to make a decision on whether Germany will commit to sending the powerful Leopard 2 battle tanks that Ukraine wants in order to step up its attacks against Russian invaders.

Rheinmetall has 22 Leopard 2 and 88 older Leopard 1 vehicles, Papperger said. Germany has around 350 Leopard 2 tanks, but there are questions over how many could be spared to send to Ukraine, making defense industry stocks of the tanks and the speed at which the vehicles can be made battle-ready important factors.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said this week that his country would transfer Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö also indicated willingness to supply the battle tanks.

Germany, which manufactures the Leopard 2, has a key role as the vehicles have restrictions around re-exporting. But Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said Thursday that Berlin would not stand in the way of allies that wanted to deliver the tanks to Ukraine — even though the German government itself has so far been hesitant to commit to such a step.

Pressure on Berlin increased on Saturday with the U.K.’s decision to send 14 Challenger 2 battle tanks to Ukraine.

News Code 196187

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