According to estimates by German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius, the first Leopard 2A6 tanks could be in Ukraine in about three months. Following his first visit to the Defence Committee of the German Parliament on 25 January 2023, Pistorius stated that the training of Ukrainian tank soldiers is due to begin as soon as possible.
The goal is to set up two Ukrainian battalions with Leopard tanks, Pistorius said. In the first step, one battalion should be equipped with the 2A6 variant, involving partner nations. He said this foreign participation component was necessary due to Germany’s limited ammunition, maintenance, and training capacity. In this vein, Pistorius also announced that he would speak with the Polish Defence Minister again later that day and on 26 January, along with six other partners, including Canada, Spain and Portugal, about their participation in the process. The initial tank battalion is due to be transferred to Ukraine from the Bundeswehr’s inventory.
According to Pistorius, the report he commissioned on Leopard inventories, which also takes into account Leopard tanks owned by the defence industry, will be available shortly – by 26 January. It is conceivable that the second battalion will be equipped with the Leopard 2A4, Pistorius said. He did not rule out that the second tank battalion could also consist of Leopard 1 tanks, but he pointed out that the Leopard 1 is significantly less capable than the Leopard 2 and that there are questions regarding ammunition procurement that need to be clarified. The Leopard 1 fires 105 mm ammunition and only remains in service with a few countries including Greece and Brazil. These vehicles would also have to be repaired, which would take about three to four months. Pistorius announced that he would soon consult with the defence industry on possible replacements for the Bundeswehr.
According to Wolfgang Hellmich, defence policy spokesperson of the social democrats (SPD) in German parliament, the discussion with the industry covers, among other things, start-up financing to set up new production lines as well as long-term purchase guarantees.