The German defense concern Rheinmetall is negotiating the construction of a tank plant in Ukraine. This was announced by its CEO Armin Papperger in an interview with the Rheinische Post, published on Saturday, March 4.
“A Rheinmetall plant can be built in Ukraine for approximately 200 million euros, which would produce up to 400 Panther tanks per year. Negotiations with the Ukrainian government are promising, and I hope that a decision will be made in the next two months,” Papperger said.
Previously, Rheinmetall announced its readiness to supply Lynx infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) to Ukraine, as well as the latest Panther battle tanks. Probably, it was about the Panther KF51 model, which was presented by the concern last summer.
Panther is a concept of a new tank, which Rheinmetall presented in the summer of 2022. This is a development based on the Leopard 2 and is most convenient for countries that already have Leopards in service.
According to Papperger, to win the war, Ukraine needs from 600 to 800 tanks and to meet this need, production should be set up promptly. He believes that protecting the plant from Russian attacks with the help of Ukrainian air defense systems “will not be difficult.”
Today, Rheinmetall produces about 250 tanks a year.
“We are working at full speed. We have already put into operation more than 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles, and by the end of the year there will be about 100 of them. Of the 50 Leopard 2A4 tanks, about 30 are ready. There are also about 100 old Leopard 1 models, of which we can restore 88 vehicles,” said Papperger.
Papperger believes that the war will last “probably for years.”
“Western allies are sending enough weapons there so that Ukraine can defend itself, but today the Ukrainians do not have enough equipment in order to completely reclaim their territory," he explained.
Papperger suggests that the war in Ukraine will continue, "probably for years to come." In his opinion, the Western allies are sending enough weapons to Kiev so that Ukraine can defend itself, "but the Ukrainians today do not have enough equipment to fully return their territory."
The head of Rheinmetall also expressed the opinion that Russia there are no such great resources as the West as a whole.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba met with Papperger on February 18 to discuss ways to increase arms production for Kiev.
“We also discussed big projects to strengthen the potential of Ukraine in the field of tanks and armored vehicles, both in the short and long term. Rheinmetall is ready to increase cooperation,” Kuleba said.
Papperger later said that 20 Marder tanks would be ready for shipment to Ukraine by the end of March, and the first batch of ammunition produced in Germany for Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery systems would be delivered to Ukraine until July.