Jul 24, 2023
Major deliveries of military material and extensive logistical support make Rheinmetall one of Ukraine’s most important backers in its fight to defend itself against Russian aggression. Thanks to its massive production capacity, the Düsseldorf-based tech enterprise is able not only to furnish vital products like ammunition. It can also draw on its extensive technology portfolio to aid Ukraine’s struggle for national survival.
In addition to short-term shipments of military hardware, in the long run Ukraine will need help in re-establishing its own defence industry and reorienting its production to western standards. In May 2023 Rheinmetall therefore announced a strategic cooperation agreement with Ukraine’s state-owned Ukroboronprom. As a first step, repair and maintenance of combat vehicles is planned, to be followed by production in Ukraine of armoured vehicles like the Fuchs/Fox armoured transport vehicle, the Lynx infantry fighting vehicle and Panther main battle tank. The objective is to turn Ukraine into an efficient partner, to rebuild its once powerful defence sector, and to assure its strategic autonomy.
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What Rheinmetall is doing to aid Ukraine
Rheinmetall is now the sole defence contractor capable of supplying the Ukrainian military with large amounts of new medium- and large-calibre ammunition, including 20mm for the Marder infantry fighting vehicle, and 105mm and 120mm tank ammunition for the Leopard 1 and Leopard 2. Very soon, a first lot of 35mm ammunition for the Gepard antiaircraft tank will be ready for shipment, part of a total of 300,000 rounds currently earmarked for Ukraine. Moreover, Rheinmetall is a vital strategic source of 155mm artillery ammunition for Ukraine, having already supplied the embattled country with tens of thousands of rounds, with more on the way.
Rheinmetall is also providing Ukraine with substantial support in the combat vehicle domain, either through multilateral Ringtausch exchange programmes with partner nations like Greece, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, or via direct transfers. Acting on behalf of the German government, Rheinmetall shipped the first of twenty Marder infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine back in March 2023. Recently ordered, a second lot of twenty Marder IFVs is slated to ship this summer. Furthermore, another sixty Marder vehicles are available that could also be readied for action. Under a Ringtausch exchange initiated by the German government, Rheinmetall is also supplying Greece with the Marder 1A3. In exchange for the German systems, the Greek armed forces have transferred Soviet-era infantry fighting vehicles and other military equipment to Ukraine.
Leopard 1 and 2 MBTs
The potential for supplying Ukraine with Leopard 1 tanks is also substantial: Rheinmetall is capable of furnishing scores of these tried-and-tested vehicles. The Leopard 2 is advancing as well. In addition to Ringtausch programmes with Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Rheinmetall is supplying Ukraine with these tanks, financed in this case by the Dutch and Danish governments. In addition, a contract has been awarded for maintaining these combat vehicles, another example of Rheinmetall’s wide-ranging support of the Ukrainian war effort.
The success of the 35mm Gepard antiaircraft tank in Ukraine underscores the effectiveness of cannon-based air defence, especially against cruise missiles and drones. Upholding this tradition is Rheinmetall’s state-of-the-art Skynex, which is also a cannon-based system. It is designed for very close-range air defence operations, where guided missiles are ineffective. Using programmable 35mm Ahead ammunition, developed by Rheinmetall precisely this purpose, is significantly less costly than comparable guided missile-based systems. Moreover, it is impossible to influence or deflect 35mm rounds with electronic countermeasures.
In the second half of 2023, Ukraine will take delivery of two cutting edge Skynex air defence systems, including airburst munitions. The Skynex systems will be mounted on new Rheinmetall HX 8x8 military trucks.
Made by Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles, HX trucks are among the most widely used military logistic vehicles worldwide, with a global reputation for durability, offroad mobility, user-friendliness and modularity that sets them apart from industry rivals.
At present nearly 100 Rheinmetall-made trucks are operating in Ukraine, which recently took delivery of 26 more brand new ones straight from the factory.
Service and logistical support
Wherever military equipment is in action, service and maintenance support is indispensable. To keep Western-made systems operational and assure adequate logistical support, Rheinmetall is establishing a maintenance and logistics centre at Satu Mare in Romania, a fellow NATO member nation. In future, the hub will also be available to service armoured vehicles and logistic trucks belonging to NATO armed forces in the region.
Mobile field hospitals
At the behest of the German government, Rheinmetall subsidiary ZMS GmbH is supplying Ukraine with a turnkey field hospital this year that will be a huge help to the country’s armed forces. A combined tent- and container-based system, it will enable lifesaving surgical operations to be carried out close to the frontline. A second field hospital is slated for delivery in 2024.
At the end of 2022, Rheinmetall was awarded a contract to supply a Role 2 hospital. It consists of three vehicle trailer combinations, each comprising a truck and trailer as well as a total of six containers. A turnkey system, it is equipped with state-of-the-art medical technology.
Augmenting this extensive support package is the SurveilSPIRE mobile reconnaissance system, which is equipped with day-and-night-capable cameras and autopiloted mini drones. Five SurveilSPIRE airspace surveillance systems were supplied in 2022, with another five ordered in 2023. Rheinmetall is cooperating here with an Estonian partner company.
The equipment delivered to date underscores Rheinmetall’s role as a key source of military support for the Ukrainian armed forces, making the company a mainstay of European defence architecture and a guarantor of freedom and democracy.