The federal government has given the green light for the export of 187 Leopard 1s from Rheinmetall and Flensburger Fahrzeugbau Gesellschaft (FFG). 88 Leopard 1s will come from Rheinmetall and 99 from FFG, Business Insider reports. According to the publication, the official numbers are to be announced on Tuesday.
Compared to the 14 Leopard 2 tanks that Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced for Ukraine almost two weeks ago, 187 of the certainly much older Leopard 1 type seems like a very large number. But on closer inspection, the export license is of lesser importance to the future course of the war in Ukraine: as Business Insider has learned from government sources, funding for vehicle repairs has not yet been secured. This should be finally clarified only in the next few weeks.
In addition, it is currently expected that the first vehicles will be delivered no earlier than the middle of this year. Insiders say it is not yet known how many they will be, as it also depends on funding. It is also unclear whether all 187 Leopard 1s will eventually be operational or whether many will have to be used as spare parts depots.
The Leopard-1 tanks, like the Leopard-2, will still come too late to provide the military defence against the spring offensive by the Russian military that many experts expect. The federal government has hesitated too long to deliver the battle tanks - and thus has done little to help Ukraine in terms of political strategy.
Inside the government, they are also starting to point out that the military-strategic importance of tank delivery is not so much about the tanks themselves. More likely, the transition to Western tanks goes hand in hand with ammunition changes.
For example, the Leopard tanks use a NATO-standard 105 mm calibre, which implies a much better supply of ammunition for Ukraine, as it cannot produce ammunitions for its old Soviet tanks. In the long run, this could increase the "viability" of the Ukrainian army in military terms.
Earlier, the German government confirmed the decision to sell 88 Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine.