The hypothesis of the KF-51 Panther tanks built in Ukraine puzzles specialists

At the beginning of March, the bubbling president of the German industrial giant Rheinmetall caused a surprise by announcing that negotiations were under way with Kyiv, with a view to to build a factory in Ukraine capable of assembling 400 KF-51 Panther tanks per year, so as to give the Ukrainian armies not only a major technological and operational advantage against the Russian forces, but also to standardize and rationalize the armored fleet of the Ukrainian armed forces which, today, has little to envy to the course of the Miracles so many references and micro-fleets are there. In addition, Kyiv would have the opportunity to acquire a fleet of modern KF-41 Lynx infantry fighting vehicles in parallel, these can be produced on the Hungarian assembly line built following the order by Budapest of 218 of these armored vehicles in September 2020. And to add that the construction of this factory, which would cost 200 m€ according to the German entrepreneur, had to start as soon as possible to meet Ukrainian operational needs.

Since then, the management of Rheinmetall like the Kyiv authorities, without denying Armin Papperger's statements, have remained particularly discreet on this subject. Officially, the subject is so sensitive that it cannot be exposed publicly until a definitive agreement has been obtained. But for many specialists, the announcements made by the CEO of Rheinmetall raise more questions than they provide answers. In effect, many elements "do not stick" to the existing or foreseeable reality, so many are openly skeptical about the materiality of this announcement. It is true that, even very brief, this announcement hardly makes sense.

Rheinmetall also offers Kyiv the acquisition of KF-41 Lynx infantry fighting vehicles which would then be built in Hungary.

First of all, the construction of an industrial site which would make it possible to assemble 400 modern tanks like the Panther, would take a lot of time, and much more than the 200 m€ mentioned by M Papperger. Even if the site was only intended for the assembly of armored vehicles, it should have very extensive industrial and transport infrastructures, so as to absorb the industrial flow thus generated to produce more than one new tank per day. On the other hand, beyond the assembly infrastructure, such a flow would require a significant change in the production capacities of all the subcontractors participating in the program, particularly within the German BITD, which presupposes, again, many investments, but also the training of many new operators. And there comes a second very surprising point in this statement. Indeed, the Ukrainian Armies have the capacity to implement between 800 and 1200 heavy tanks, which supposes a production over only 3 years. Even taking into account possible export markets, as well as a possible attrition in combat of the Ukrainian fleet, it is difficult to envisage production beyond 5 to 6 years, a period of active production far too short in view investments required in both Ukraine and Germany. In fact, from a purely industrial and economic point of view, the model described by Armin Papperger, it is true a few weeks before the publication of the company's results, seems very inconsistent.

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