The German government announced that it had granted permission for the manufacturer to ship the Leopard 1 tank to Ukraine after weeks of accepting the Leopard aid two ago.
“I can confirm that the export license has been issued,” German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said at a press conference on February 3 when asked about the Leopard 1 main battle tank.
Mr. Hebestreit declined to provide details. More information and said German officials would detail the decision in a few days or weeks.
The decision comes more than a week after Germany agreed to deliver 14 Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine and agreed to allow other countries to do the same. Under the agreement, countries that buy German weapons must get German consent when they want to re-export them to third parties.
The German newspaper Spiegel reported that the decision might involve 29 Leopard 1s being stored at an arms company. The Sueddeutsche newspaper reported that two German arms manufacturers want to refurbish dozens of Leopard 1s to be shipped to Ukraine but are having trouble buying ammunition for this main tank model.
The West hopes the main battle tank Leopard 2, with the US-made M1 Abrams and the British Challenger 2, can help Ukraine reduce casualties, strengthen the front line against Russia, or even open new counter-attacks.
Meanwhile, Russia insists that any weapons the West transfers to Ukraine will only prolong the conflict and lead to unnecessary bloodshed. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned, “German tanks will burn up on the Ukrainian battlefield like the rest of Western weapons.”
The Leopard 1 main battle tank was developed by Porsche in the 1960s, with more than 4,700 units produced. Leopard 1 weighs 42.2 tons, is armed with a 105 mm L7A3 cannon with a 105 mm slit, two MG-3 or FN MAG guns, and can reach a maximum speed of 65 km / h with a range of 450-600 km.
Leopard 1 has a lighter weight and less firepower than Leopard 2, a 62-ton tank equipped with a 120 mm Rh-120 smoothbore cannon and advanced armor. However, many German officials believe Leopard 1 can still confront the main Russian tank.
Germany also used the Leopard 1 body to build the Flakpanzer Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft gun with two Oerlikon GDF 35 mm cannons and target tracking radar. Germany, in April 2022, approved the transfer of 50 Gepard anti-aircraft guns to Ukraine.