Tanks bought off as out of date at the moment are in demand as Ukraine’s Western supporters search to supply extra weapons to combat Russia.
Dozens of second-hand Leopard 1 tanks that when belonged to Belgium have been purchased by one other European nation for Ukrainian forces preventing Russia’s invasion, in keeping with the arms dealer who carried out the deal.
The German-made Leopards had been on the centre of a public spat earlier this yr after Belgian Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder mentioned the federal government had explored shopping for again out of date tanks to ship to Ukraine however had been quoted unreasonable costs.
The conflict highlighted a predicament confronted by Western governments looking for weapons for Ukraine after greater than a yr of intense warfare – arms they discarded as out of date at the moment are in excessive demand and sometimes owned by personal corporations.
Freddy Versluys, CEO of defence firm OIP Land Techniques, mentioned on Tuesday that he purchased the outdated tanks from the Belgian authorities greater than 5 years in the past.
He advised Reuters he had now bought all 50 tanks to a different European authorities, which he couldn’t identify on account of a confidentiality clause. He mentioned he additionally couldn’t disclose the worth he was paid for the Leopards.
A number of of Kyiv’s Western allies agreed earlier this yr to ship fashionable Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine in addition to older Leopard 1 fashions.
Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper reported on Tuesday night that arms maker Rheinmetall had acquired the Leopard 1 tanks and would put together most of them for export to Ukraine.
The corporate declined to remark.
“The truth that they go away our firm proves that we requested for a good market value and somebody was more than pleased to take them,” Versluys mentioned in a put up on LinkedIn, accompanied by an image of tanks subsequent to a bottle of Ukrainian vodka.
He mentioned the tanks had been now being transported to a manufacturing facility for a considerable overhaul. A number of the tanks can be used for spare elements whereas others can be repaired, he mentioned.
He estimated it could possibly be 4 to 6 months earlier than they’re on the battlefield in Ukraine.
Handelsblatt mentioned the 50 tanks can be refurbished at Rheinmetall factories in Germany and that 30 overhauled fashions can be made prepared for export. It didn’t identify any authorities as being behind the deal.
The German defence ministry had no speedy remark.
The Leopard 1 was made by the German agency Krauss-Maffei, beginning within the Sixties. It’s lighter than the Leopard 2 and has a unique kind of important gun. The fashions bought by Versluys had been final upgraded within the Nineteen Nineties.
A spokesperson for the Belgian defence ministry declined to touch upon the sale of the tanks.