Rheinmetall opens repair facility for combat vehicles in Ukraine

MILAN — Rheinmetall has established a maintenance center in western Ukraine to repair German-donated military equipment damaged in combat, as more arms manufacturers are setting up shop in the embattled country.

The Rheinmetall Ukrainian Defense Industry repair facility, a joint venture project between the German company and the Ukraine state-owned enterprise Ukroboronprom, was inaugurated on June 10.

“Marder infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) are already being maintained and overhauled at the hub, and in the future, Leopard 1 and 2 main battle tanks as well as other German-made systems will also be repaired at other locations in Ukraine,” a company statement said.

Rheinmetall will rely on local labor and equipment in addition to providing its own resources to the hub. According to the statement, Ukrainian specialists were trained in servicing armored vehicles at company sites in Germany last year.

By the end of 2023, the German manufacturer had sent over 100 Marder IFVs to Ukraine, and additional deliveries in the “double-digit range” were planned for this year, per company information.

Rheinmetall has also been tapped to deliver Leopard 1 and 2 main battle tanks as well as armored recovery vehicles to Kyiv.

Company officials have previously floated the idea of setting up as many as four factories in the embattled country to produce a wider range of weapons.

There has been a stronger push from the Ukrainian government recently to localize the production of military equipment as well as a growing inclination of Western defense companies to open plants in Kyiv.

Earlier this month, KNDS, the French-German manufacturer of combat vehicles, said it was close to opening a subsidiary in Ukraine that will work with local firms to make spare parts and produce 155mm artillery shells.

Other Western land vehicles producers have weighed the option of opening a Ukraine production site as a more sustainable form of military aid, but few have made the move in light of security risks.