In a letter dated 23 February 2023, the German minister for economic affairs, Robert Habeck, and minister of defence, Boris Pistorius, requested that some of the decommissioned 87 Leopard 2 A4 combat tanks be sold back to the German manufacturer, Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH. Germany has undertaken not to send the tanks to Ukraine and given assurances that they will remain either in Germany, with NATO, or with its EU partners.
Parliament’s decision to decommission tanks
The Armed Forces currently operate 134 87 Leopard 2 A4 WE tanks, which were modernised as part of the 2006 Armament Programme. In addition, they also have 96 87 Leopard 2 A4 tanks that are not in use and have not been maintained.
On 26 September of this year, the Council of States approved the Federal Decree on the 2023 Armament Programme as adopted by the National Council on 14 June as part of the 2023 Armed Forces Dispatch. At the same time, it approved the decommissioning of 25 Leopard 87 main battle tanks on condition that they be sold back to the manufacturer. Following this decision and in accordance with the provisions of the War Materiel Act, the Federal Office for Defence Procurement (armasuisse) submitted an application to SECO on 12 October for a licence to export the 25 tanks.
Tanks not for Ukraine
The export of tanks abroad is subject to authorisation under the provisions of the War Material Act. The export of these tanks to Germany is in line with the authorisation criteria. Of crucial importance is the fact that Germany has given assurances that the tanks will remain in Germany, with NATO or its EU partners in order to meet existing shortfalls.