Rheinmetall's ambitious plans in Ukraine: Beyond tank servicing


The interview on August 19, 2023, in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung with Rheinmetall's CEO, Armin Papperger, highlighted the company's plans to start servicing tanks in Ukraine in a few days. According to him, the first 12 Ukrainian employees have completed their training in Germany, and now a further 12 are coming but Rheinmetall's projects with Ukraine don't stop there.
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Rheinmetall's vision involves establishing a production facility in Ukraine to provide the country with NATO technology and production capabilities, reducing reliance on external assistance such as from the United States and the European Union. (Picture source:  Rheinmetall)


Rheinmetall's vision involves establishing a production facility in Ukraine to provide the country with NATO technology and production capabilities, reducing reliance on external assistance such as from the United States and the European Union. It's worth noting that other companies are also considering similar military collaborations, as evidenced by BAE Systems' initiative to produce CV 90 vehicles in Ukrainian factories, as reported on August 21, 2023.

Addressing Ukraine's significant challenges, including the shortage of ammunition, Rheinmetall's pivotal role as a major global tank shell producer has been acknowledged. The company is already contributing considerably, and it plans to set up manufacturing sites in Ukraine to further enhance production capacity.

In the coming months, Rheinmetall is planning to establish a workshop in Western Ukraine for the maintenance of military vehicles provided by NATO countries. Initial production efforts are likely to focus on armored personnel carriers using Fuchs/Fox technology. The company is also committed to supplying Marder tracks (at a rate of 10 per month) and Leopard 2A4 tanks to the Ukrainian military.

As previously reported by Army Recognition editorial team on July 17, 2023, Rheinmetall's ambitious goal is to transfer 250 vehicles to Ukraine within the next 12 months. However, the primary concern remains the shortage of ammunition. Rheinmetall is a leading global manufacturer of tank shells, currently producing between 150,000 and 240,000 shells annually. The company's commitment is to significantly raise artillery shell production, a vital factor in Ukraine's war efforts, from 100,000 to 600,000.

Rheinmetall intends to lease well-equipped Soviet-era tank factories in Ukraine to manufacture armored vehicles in line with NATO standards. Rheinmetall's prospective plant in Ukraine holds the promise of producing a range of armored vehicles over the long term, enhancing Ukraine's ability to counter modern Russian tanks. Among these vehicles is the advanced German KF-51 Panther tank, with the potential to outmatch the latest Russian tanks. The Panther is renowned for its mobility, advanced ballistic protection, and advanced weapon systems.

Additionally, Rheinmetall is contemplating the production of a more cost-effective tank, the Ukrainian-designed T-84 Oplot. Although less advanced than the Panther, the T-84 Oplot is a formidable tank capable of rivaling Russian tanks. It's recognized for its reliability, firepower, and impact resistance. These vehicles could be particularly well-suited for countering Russian tanks due to their advanced technical attributes. While the Panther offers tactical superiority with its innovative design and cutting-edge systems, the T-84 Oplot combines firepower, mobility, and protection effectively.

The evolving situation in Ukraine has raised concerns, with Russia augmenting its capacity to produce modern tanks while Ukraine relies heavily on equipment transfers from Western allies. Russia has mobilized its production capabilities to replace and expand its fleet of armored vehicles, including advanced T-72B3M, T-80BVM, and T-90M tanks with enhanced capabilities. In contrast, Ukraine's reliance on support from NATO member states and limited supplies remains a challenge.

Rheinmetall's decision to establish a factory in Ukraine hasn't been without controversy, as some experts express security concerns about potential Russian attacks on the plant. Nonetheless, Rheinmetall and its Ukrainian partner, Ukroboronprom, are determined to proceed with the project, with operations anticipated to commence by the end of September.