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Ukraine to receive Leopard 1 tanks from anonymous buyer

Ukraine to receive Leopard 1 tanks from anonymous buyer Leopard-1 (Photo: Getty Images)
Author: Daria Shekina

The first batches of Belgian Leopard 1 tanks are being sent for repairs today, and they will subsequently be transferred to Ukraine. These tanks were acquired by an undisclosed buyer, according to De Standaard.

At the storage facility in the Belgian city of Turnhout, OIP Land Systems, one of the companies owned by the East Flemish (region in Belgium- Ed.) engineer and arms dealer Freddy Versluys, the first two out of fifty Belgian Leopard 1 tanks were loaded onto a truck and transported today.

The final destination is Ukraine

"The tanks will first stop in Germany and Italy, where they will undergo major repairs and be equipped with modern weapon systems. Then they will head to the battlefield," Versluys confirmed.

According to him, this process will take some time, and transportation alone might take several weeks.

What led to this

Versluys purchased a batch of Leopard 1 tanks around ten years ago when the Belgian army sold them as part of a cost-cutting operation.

The military leadership decided to replace all heavy tracked vehicles with lighter wheeled armored vehicles.

Earlier this year, Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder stated that the Federal government was indeed interested in buying the tanks, but Versluys demanded an unreasonable price without making substantial upgrades to the already outdated equipment.

The buyer of the tanks remains undisclosed

The country behind this purchase and the price for the fifty tanks are not disclosed by Versluys. Although, so far, only Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands have announced their intention to gift Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine.

"There is a confidentiality clause in the purchase agreement. Of course, I have to adhere to it," he said.

Despite OIP Land Systems being a supplier of sensors for weapon systems, the company is no longer involved in the tank modernization process.

The company's director stated that he was unaware of when the buyer planed to deliver the tanks to Ukraine and where exactly they would be sent. Previously, he mentioned that tank modernization might take up to six months.

Not only tanks are being prepared for transfer to Ukraine

Leopard 1 tanks are not the only military equipment that OIP is preparing for shipment to Ukraine these days.

Versluys mentioned that his employees are also preparing to send 90 infantry armored vehicles M113. At least part of these vehicles were purchased and gifted to Ukraine from the United Kingdom.

Leopard 1 for Ukraine

In May, the acting Minister of Defense of Denmark, Troels Lund Poulsen, announced a joint effort with Germany to transfer 80 Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine.

These tanks are equipped with a 105mm gun and a paired MG3 7.62mm machine gun. Until the 1980s, this equipment was considered the main battle tank of Germany. The Leopard 1A5 version is the latest serial model.

It is equipped with a computerized fire control system, the Krupp-Atlas Electronik EMES 18, with a Carl Zeiss thermal imager, which was developed based on the modern Leopard 2 system.

You can find more detailed information about the Leopard 1 in the material from RBK-Ukraine.