The difference between target inventory and operational ready systems has been significant in Germany, not only in the case of main battle tanks, even before war in Ukraine started. Due to outsourcing of logistic support maintenance periods have become too long, according to reports from the Bundeswehr. As a result, the planned handing over of just 18 operational ready main battle tanks to Ukraine creates a lack that the German defence minister described as very painful. Keeping in mind, that Germany is the fourth richest country of the world.
However, replacements for these painful losses must now be found. Not an easy task, because what is halfway available is already going to Ukraine. Germany’s gaze now wanders towards Switzerland. On one hand, Switzerland has decommissioned Leopard 2 main battle tanks and, on the other hand, has a constitution that strictly rejects any delivery to war zones – no matter how just or defensive the war is. Bundeswehr could therefore replenish its stocks without taking anything away from Ukraine.
German government has now requested purchase of an as yet undisclosed number of Leopard main battle tanks from Switzerland. These are to be taken over and modernised by Rheinmetall company. Due to sources from Bundeswehr, it plans to modernise Swiss main battle tanks to the 2 A7V standard. This could give an important impulse to the modernisation of the German tank fleet, as Bundeswehr would receive the latest A7V standard as a replacement for their Leopard 2 A6.
However, this is probably just wishful thinking. After all, the Swiss parliament’s security policy commissions already announced on February 3, 2023: “The commission, on the other hand, rejected by eight votes to two the motion for a parliamentary initiative that demanded that up to 30 of the 96 decommissioned tanks 87 Leopard of the Swiss army be taken out of service and returned to Germany. For the majority, these 87 Leopard tanks represent a strategic reserve that should be preserved. This reserve should be able to be used to fully equip the army’s tank battalions and as a spare parts depot for the current tank fleet.”
Dorothee Frank, Head of editorial team