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During the meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group in Ramstein on 21 April 2023, the defence ministers from Germany, Poland and Ukraine agreed on the establishment of a maintenance hub for the Leopard 2 main battle tanks (MBTs) transferred to the Ukrainian Army and signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to this effect.

A total of 73 Leopard 2A4, A5 and A6 MBTs have now been announced for delivery to Ukraine. These tanks have to be maintained and repaired by specialised personnel during their deployment by the Ukrainian troops.

“The material we deliver – whether battle tanks or support tanks and other equipment such as howitzers or Patriot systems – is subject to wear and tear, especially when it is in continuous use in combat,” noted German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius. “That is why I am very pleased that I was able to sign a memorandum of understanding with my Polish colleague and my Ukrainian colleague Oleksij today.” The joint maintenance hub, which will be located in Poland near the Polish-Ukrainian border, is intended to ensure that the Leopard 2s can be quickly maintained and repaired if necessary, Pistorius said.

German, Ukrainian and Polish defence ministers Boris Pistorius, Oleksiy Resnikov and Marius Blaszczak sign an MoU on 21 April to create a Leopard 2 maintenance hub (Photo: O Resnikov)

At the so-called ‘tank lunch’ it was agreed among all parties involved that a funding solution should be created to finance this hub. Pistorius estimated the annual costs at EUR 150-200 M. Details of the tank hub co-operation are now being defined in more detail, including the participation of industry, the provision of exchange and spare parts and also transport and storage possibilities.

Already on 7 March, Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak had offered that Poland would set up a repair facility for the Leopard 2s handed over to Ukraine. The workshop could be built along the lines of the plant of Polish tank manufacturer Bumar-Labędy in Gliwice (Gleiwitz). Among other things Bumar is involved in the conversion of the Leopard 2 to the Polish 2PL variant and, together with Rheinmetall, in its modernisation to the 2PL/M1 version and therefore has the infrastructure and expertise for the overhaul work.

When asked, Pistorius explained that the repair hub could start work at the end of May.

Gerhard Heiming