On 16 November 2022, Rheinmetall announced that it would begin to supply 15 Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks (MBTs) to Slovakia, under the framework of the German government’s ‘Ringtausch’ programme. Rheinmetall stated that the vehicles in question are overhauled Leopard 2A4s which had previously been in the inventories of user states, but are now owned by Rheinmetall. The company added that work on the contract has already begun, with the first vehicle due to be delivered in December 2022, and deliveries completed by the end of 2023.
The German government’s ‘Ringtausch’ programme aims to provide replacement Western hardware for countries which are donating their legacy Soviet equipment to Ukraine. The ‘Ringtausch’ programme was agreed in cooperation with Germany’s NATO allies and is intended to incentivise users of Soviet equipment to donate it to Ukraine for use in their ongoing struggle against Russia.
Rheinmetall and the Slovak government signed the agreement in Brussels on 15 November 2022, with the signatories including Martin Sklenár, Defence Policy Director of the Slovak Ministry of Defence; Vice Admiral Carsten Stawitzki, National Armaments Director in the German Ministry of Defence; as well as Dr. Björn Bernhard, CEO of Rheinmetall’s Tactical Vehicles Business Unit and Eduardo Veen Martinez, Executive Vice President Rheinmetall Tactical Vehicles Business Unit.