Rheinmetall delivers ammunitions for Gepard anti-air gun to Ukraine

The Gepard is a German-made anti-aircraft guns system based on a Leopard 1 tank tracked chassis armed with two 35mm cannons. (Picture source Wikimedia)

As reported by Bild on July 22, 2023, Rheinmetall has pledged to supply the Ukrainian forces with no less than 300,000 rounds for the Gepard systems, as announced by the Army Recognition editorial team on July 17, 2023. This move comes as Ukrainian defenders have been limited to firing only five rounds per Gepard usage session due to insufficient ammunition, while the operational norm requires up to 20 rounds.

To address this critical demand, Rheinmetall will establish a new production line at its plant in Unterlüss, Lower Saxony. The German manufacturer plans to deliver 40,000 Gepard rounds to Ukraine this year, with the first shipment expected to reach frontline units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the coming weeks.

The Gepard systems, developed in the 1980s, have faced maintenance issues, but German engineers have come up with a clever solution to mitigate the ammunition shortage. They have developed a conversion process that allows the use of existing 35mm ammunition, originally intended for infantry combat vehicles, to be adapted for the Gepard anti-aircraft systems.

The cooperation between Rheinmetall and Ukraine was sealed during a meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and a delegation from Rheinmetall, led by CEO Armin Papperger, in Kyiv. Following this meeting, Ukrboronprom, the Ukrainian state-owned enterprise, signed a strategic partnership agreement with the German manufacturer.

However, this collaboration has not been without controversy. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, made threatening statements, asserting that the armored vehicle manufacturing plant planned by Rheinmetall in Ukraine “will become a legitimate target of the Russian army.” These statements echoed similar remarks made by former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who had mentioned the possibility of destroying the plant with Russian Kalibr missiles.

In response to these threats, Rheinmetall’s CEO, Armin Papperger, remained calm, stating that the plant would be protected from Russian attacks by their own production of Skynex Air defense systems.

Overall, Rheinmetall’s commitment to supplying essential ammunition to Ukraine represents a significant step in strengthening the country’s defense capabilities against aerial threats, particularly Shahed kamikaze drones. This initiative also underscores the increasing cooperation between Germany and Ukraine in the defense sector, in line with NATO’s recurrent calls for member states to provide substantial ammunition support to the Ukrainian army.

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