Rheinmetall, the manufacturer of Leopard tanks, will build a tank factory in Ukraine within three months. Armin Papperger, CEO of the concern, told CNN.
Rheinmetall, Germany’s largest defense company, will also train Ukrainian specialists to service tanks and other armored vehicles produced at the plant. According to Papperger, the building will be constructed in the western part of the country.
“[Ukrainians] have to provide for themselves – if they always have to wait [for] Europeans or Americans to help them for the next 10 or 20 years… It’s impossible”, he said.
The plant plans to produce and repair Fuchs armored personnel carriers, Papperger noted. Rheinmetall Concern will operate the plant in partnership with the Ukrainian state defense concern Ukroboronprom.
Papperger also emphasized that the tank factory can be protected from an attack by the Russian army. “Now there are many factories producing military products [in Ukraine]. This is just another one – and we can protect it as well”, he said.
Earlier, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatened to destroy any Rheinmetall plant in Ukraine. “The management of the German concern Rheinmetall has confirmed its intention to build a plant for the production of tanks in Ukraine. Please send the exact coordinates of the future plant. Thank you!” – he wrote in a tweet in German.
In March, Papperger spoke in an interview with the Rheinische Post about plans to build a tank plant in Ukraine to produce the latest Panther vehicles. At that time, the head of the concern noted that the enterprise would be able to produce up to 400 tanks a year, and the cost of the project would amount to about 200 million euros. In the new interview, Papperger did not specify whether the plant would assemble Panther tanks.
The Panther is Rheinmetall’s latest model of modern battle tanks. It is in the pre-production prototype stage, the tanks are not yet in use by any army in the world. Last summer, Rheinmetall presented the Panther at the Paris show and called it the strongest battle tank in the world.
In addition to Rheinmetall, the British company BAE Systems, which produces Challenger 2 tanks, was negotiating the creation of a large arms manufacturer in Ukraine, Bloomberg reports. Moreover, the Turkish company Baykar Tech plans to build a factory in Ukraine to produce its Bayraktar TB-2 drones.