Germany authorizes sale of Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine

The German government has issued an export license for Leopard 1 main battle tanks, a decision that Steffen Hebestreit, spokesman of the Government, has confirmed this Friday, February 3, without giving further details. 
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Leopard 1A5 (Picture source: KMW)

The federal government wanted the export of Leopard 1 main battle tanks from industrial stocks to Ukraine, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported, according to which Rheinmetall and the Flensburger Fahrzeugbau Gesellschaft (FFG) want to prepare dozens of Leopard 1 tanks and could supply them to Ukraine. However, there are problems with the procurement of 105mm rounds. Anyway, the sale of the tanks is now cleared.

The Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reported last week that Brazil had turned down a German request to sell tank ammunition. It is said to have been about ammunition for Leopard tanks. In addition to Gepard anti-aircraft tanks, Brazil also has German-made Leopard 1A5BR main battle tanks, 20 of which (at least) are former Leopard 1A5BE of the Belgian army which sold all its tanks in 2014, some 40 of them being then purchased by the Belgian company OIP (not having moved since then, these tanks are said to be in a too poor condition to be bought back by Belgium for restoration in combat condition and then offered to Ukraine. Namely, their firing control systems were either removed or are out of use and cannot be replaced, as spare parts are said to be extremely difficult to find. And an engine kept silent for some 10 years is never a good thing... except for Soviet-made tanks whose "resilience" possibility is legendary).

Rheinmetall already declared it could supply a total of 139 Leopard 1 and 2 tanks: in just under a year, the company could provide 22 Leopard 2 battle tanks from its own stock. However, it is unclear when an additional 88 Leopard 1 tanks could be ready. The German federal government's 29 tanks, which are intended for the ring exchange (Ringtauch programme), should be ready in the spring.

According to an Army Recognition's source, Germany has got some 400 Leopard 1s in store, of which 200 are in pristine condition (under "cocoon") and quickly deliverable, while 200 other ones need refurbishment but are in very good condition. A study is underway to modernize them. So, OIP's Leopard 1s might serve as a reserve for spare parts, as this Belgian company also has a stock of spare parts purchased from the Belgian army with the Leopard 1A5BEs.