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10:11 am ET, March 6, 2023

German manufacturer of Leopard tanks hopes to open factory in Ukraine

From CNN’s Stephanie Halas and Inke Kapiler

Armin Papperger, CEO of Rheinmetall AG, speaks during the company’s annual results conference on March 17 in Düsseldorf, Germany.

(Marius Becker/Image-Alliance/dpa/AP)

German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall hopes to open a tank factory in Ukraine, producing the Leopard battle tank along with other heavy weapons, CEO Armin Papperger told a German newspaper.

Papperger, quoted by the “Rheinisch Post” daily over the weekend, said that negotiations to build such a plant were ongoing and that a decision could come within two months.

A potential plant would cost about 200 million euros, or about $214 million, and about 400 tanks could be built annually, Paperker told the “Rheinish Post.”

Air defense systems could be in place to protect such a facility, he said.

Popperger said that a new version of the fully digitized “Panther” battle tank could be developed in Ukraine.

Some background: Rheinmetall is Germany’s largest arms manufacturer with around 25,000 employees.

In January, the Arms manufacturer It said it has 139 Cheetahs in stock, but only 29 Cheetah 2s will be ready for delivery this spring. Those 29 have already been theoretically pledged to other countries as part of a tank transfer.

According to the company, the remaining stock should be prepared for a longer period.

A Rheinmetall spokesman told CNN that some of the remaining stock — 88 Leopard 1 tanks — could be delivered in about nine months, while the rest could be delivered in a year.

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