Duesseldorf-based arms company Rheinmetall has started shipments of 35 mm ammunition for the German-made Gepard anti-aircraft tanks deployed in Ukraine, with 40,000 rounds expected to be delivered by the end of 2023.
The Federal Ministry of Defence awarded the contract in mid-February, guaranteeing a supply of up to 300,000 rounds of ammunition for Ukrainian troops.
Germany supplied 46 Gepard tanks to Ukraine in 2022 and plans to deliver six more of the anti-aircraft system that the Ukrainian army mostly uses to counter Russian drone attacks.
Rheinmetall says it has the capability to supply large amounts of ammunition to Ukraine, including 105 mm and 120 mm ammo for Leopard tanks.
Just months before the company’s first Ukraine shipment of Gepard ammunition, Rheinmetall created a new munitions production line at its Lower Saxony factory.
Rheinmetall’s Ukraine footprint also manifested in August, with the company reported as buying on behalf of the German government 30 Leopard 1 tanks from a Belgian company. The purchase was part of a Ukrainian military hardware package unveiled at this year’s NATO summit in Vilnius.
Earlier in July, Rheinmetall CEO Armin Papperger told CNN that the company is opening an armored vehicle plant in Ukraine this year, a project it will co-own under partnership with Ukrainian state-owned enterprise Ukroboronprom.