Czech Republic to Receive Leopard Tanks from Germany’s Rheinmetall

German defense company Rheinmetall is set to deliver Leopard 2A4 tanks and Buffalo armored recovery vehicles to the Czech Republic under the German government’s Ringtausch equipment exchange programme. The two countries and Rheinmetall agreed on a contract in Prague. Czech armed forces will transfer military equipment to Ukraine in return of receiving German tanks. The order includes ammunition as well as a service package encompassing training and spare parts. The first vehicle is due to be shipped in December 2022, with delivery to be complete by the end of 2023.

The Ringtausch programme was developed by Germany in cooperation with its neighbors and NATO allies to support Ukraine against Russian invasion. Specifically, NATO member states are providing Ukraine with Soviet-era heavy equipment in exchange for readily available Western military systems.

Rheinmetall has been quick to negotiate the necessary contract in close cooperation with both the German Defense Ministry and the Czech armed forces. The documents were signed on Oct. 11 in Prague by Czech and German authorities and Rheinmetall executives.

Work on the vehicles has already begun. The tanks now being made available are upgraded Leopard 2A4 MBTs formerly in the inventories of various user states. The state-of-the-art ARV 3 Buffalo armored recovery vehicle is mounted on an enhanced Leopard 2 chassis.

Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February, the Czech Republic has sent T-72 tanks, armored personnel carriers, and various other military equipment to support Kyiv.

Under the Ringtausch programme, Germany has previously signed various deals with Slovakia, Greece and most recently Slovenia, committing to provide Western equipment to these countries after they provided their own Soviet-era equipment to Ukraine.

In exchange for sending armored personnel carriers to Kyiv, Slovakia will receive 15 Leopard 2A4 tanks from industry stocks. Meanwhile, Greece agreed to ship 40 BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine; in return, Athens will receive 40 Schützenpanzer Marder 1 infantry fighting vehicles, also from Rheinmetall stocks.

In September, the German and Slovenian defense ministers signed a letter of intent for Ljubljana to send 28 M55S tanks to Ukraine, and for Berlin in exchange to provide 40 15-ton military trucks, 35 flatbeds, and five tank containers from industrial stocks.

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