Joe Biden makes surprise visit to Ukraine

German arms maker expects ammunition for anti-aircraft tanks to be delivered to Ukraine by July, CEO says

From CNN’s Inke Kappeler

Rheinmetall CEO Armin Papperger, left, and German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius speak to reporters on Monday. (Philipp Schulze/picture alliance/Getty Images)

Germany’s largest arms manufacturer Rheinmetall expects the first batch of ammunition for anti-aircraft Gepard tanks will be delivered to Ukraine by July, CEO Armin Papperger said on Monday.

Papperger made the commitment while speaking to journalists with German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius after the two visited the manufacturing site of the tanks in Unterluess, in western Germany.

The influential Rheinmetall CEO also announced that twenty Marder fighting vehicles will be ready to be delivered to Ukraine by the end of March.

In response to Pistorius’ appeal to arms manufacturers to fire up ammunition production, Papperger said his company had “doubled capacities, in some sectors even tripled them.“

“In weapons production, the warehouse is full, we are running at full steam here and we can still increase capacity with one shift,“ if contracts were made, he said.

Pistorius said the German government was working with the industry to deliver whatever was possible.

“We can deliver what we have and we can deliver what will be produced in the next months,“ he added.

The German defense minister on Monday also visited members of the Ukrainian military learning to operate Leopard tanks and Marder infantry fighting vehicles in Germany’s Munster.

The production of a modern battle tank takes “about two to two and a half years” from the time it is ordered, Pistorius said during the visit.

“Everything we are handing over now (to Ukraine) will only be available for replacement in two or two-and-a-half years,“ he added.

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