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Ukraine: Which weapons is Germany supplying?

September 12, 2023

From battle tanks to anti-aircraft defense systems: After initial hesitation, Berlin has become one of the most important suppliers of weapons to Ukraine.

Olaf Scholz and a Bundeswehr Leopard 2 A6 tank with camouflage
Chancellor Olaf Scholz gave a late green light for the delivery of German battle tanks like the Leopard 2Image: Björn Trotzki/IMAGO

Germany is currently weighing up whether to supply Ukraine with the Taurus long-range cruise missile systems.

Berlin has been sending battle tanks and other war equipment requested by Ukraine for some time. But it has yet to send fighter planes and cruise missiles. Here is a selection of the weapons that have been delivered, according to a list from Germany's Foreign Office dated August 30, 2023:

Leopard 2A6 battle tanks

So far, Ukraine has received 18 battle tanks of this model from Germany. Other countries that use the Leopard 2 have also supplied them to Ukraine. This type of tank has been in series production for more than four decades and has undergone multiple improvements since then. These tanks are not due to be replaced by Germany's Bundeswehr armed forces until at least 2030. The primary use of these battle tanks is to repel enemy tank formations.

The Leopard 2 can also attack stationary or moving targets while on the move itself. The 1500-horsepower tank that can travel at more than 60 kilometers per hour (38 miles per hour) is a heavyweight.

Leopard 1A5 battle tank

Ukraine has so far received 20 Leopard 1A5 battle tanks, the predecessor to the Leopard 2. It is planned for more than 100 vehicles of this type to be delivered. Germany and Denmark have taken the lead in this project together. Both countries are also ensuring Ukrainian forces are being trained to use this battle tank model, which has not been used by the Bundeswehr since 2003.

The Leopard 1 was the first battle tank developed in Germany since the Second World War. Many of the 4700 vehicles built between 1964 and 1984 were exported, and a proportion of these continue to serve in these countries after undergoing multiple modernizations. The tanks now being delivered to Ukraine come from industrial stocks and are being modernized for battle against the Russian invading forces.

German weapons delivery to Ukraine continues to lag

Marder infantry fighting vehicles

Ukraine has received 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles from Germany. These vehicles transport ground troops into the battlefield and provide fire support. It also has room for gunners to fire from. That is why it is a versatile weapon system.

Commissioned in 1971, the Marder is an especially old model and, in Germany, is in the process of being replaced by its successor, the Puma. Despite this, the Bundeswehr and many other armies continue to use the Marder and it has proven reliable in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

Gepard "cheetah" self-propelled anti-aircraft tank

Two months after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine began, the German government promised a heavy weapon system for the first time — the Gepard (German for "cheetah") anti-aircraft tank, or flak tank. The Gepard can be used against fighter planes, military helicopters, or drones up to 3,500 meters (11,500 feet high) and against lightly armored targets on the ground, such as armored personnel carriers and armored transport vehicles.

The Gepard was introduced in 1976 and has long been a cornerstone of air defense for the Bundeswehr and the Dutch and Belgian armies. However, the Gepard was taken out of service in these countries about 20 years ago — the last in Germany in 2012. That is why the Gepards first needed to be repaired before heading to Ukraine. The complicated technology and operation of the anti-aircraft tank presented a further problem — Ukrainian crews were trained in Germany.

Self-propelled Howitzer Panzerhaubitze 2000

A total of 14 of these artillery systems were delivered a few months after the war began. The "Tank Howitzer 2000" is an armored, self-propelled artillery piece that can destroy targets up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) away.

The Bundeswehr received its first Panzerhaubitze 2000 in 1998. In contrast to the Leopard battle tanks, they must stand still to fire. Therefore, they are clearly inferior to a main battle tank in a direct duel.

MARS II Multiple Rocket Launch Systems

So far, five mobile multiple rocket launcher systems (MLRS) of the type MARS II have been delivered from Bundeswehr stocks. Among the deliveries are several hundred missiles with a range of about 80 kilometers.

The US, where the system is manufactured, has taken over the training for the weapons system. The original system was developed in the 1980s. Since then, improvements have been made to the range and accuracy of the missiles.

How important are German weapons supplies to Ukraine's war effort?

IRIS-T SLM air defense system

Ukraine has received 2 IRIS-T SLM air defense systems, which can be deployed to defend against approaching aircraft and other flying objects, such as missiles, at an altitude of up to 20 kilometers and a distance of up to 40 kilometers.

The Bundeswehr itself does not yet have this system, which is made by Germany-based weapons manufacturer Diehl Defense. At a price of about €145 million ($156 million) per unit, it is one of the most modern on the market.

Bridge-laying Biber and armored recovery vehicles

So far, Germany has supplied 10 Biber-type bridge-laying tanks and 17 armored recovery vehicles. The German-made Biber can bridge trenches and bodies of water up to 20 meters wide during battle.

However, the Biber is not strong enough to carry heavy battle tanks such as the Leopard 2, which weighs more than 60 Tonnes. That is why the Bundeswehr wants to replace the Biber with its successor model, Leguan, which can carry more than 70 Tonnes. The armored recovery vehicles serve to retrieve damaged or destroyed tanks and trucks.

Vector reconnaissance drone

Drones are increasingly playing a role in Russia's war against Ukraine.

So far, Germany has supplied Ukraine with 104 reconnaissance drones of the Vector model. These drones from German manufacturer Quantum Systems can fly for up to two hours and thereby photograph an area spanning 700 hectares.

Rocket launchers 'Stinger' and 'Panzerfaust 3'

According to the German government, shortly after the beginning of the war, Germany supplied Ukraine with 500 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. The Stinger is a shoulder-held, infrared-guided surface-to-air missile launcher that was initially manufactured in 1980 by Raytheon in the US but has also long been made in Europe, including in Germany.

After it has acquired its target, such as a fighter plane or helicopter, and is fired, the missile can track its target automatically with a range of about 4,000 meters. Stingers have been used in Afghanistan, where they were proven extremely effective and simple to use.

Germany has supplied several hundred Panzerfaust 3 weapons to Ukraine for defense against tanks. They have been produced in Germany since 1992 and are fired from the shoulder toward static targets up to 400 meters (440 yards) away and moving targets up to 300 meters. They can penetrate steel armor up to 300 mm (12 inches) thick.

This article was originally written in German.

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