German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall announced on Tuesday that the first shipment of new Gepard ammunition is now on its way to Ukraine.
As noted by the company, Rheinmetall AG of Düsseldorf has shipped the first lot of 35mm air defense ammunition as part of German support for Ukraine’s defensive struggle. By the end of this year, 40,000 rounds are to be produced and provided.
“In Ukraine the shipments from Germany are eagerly awaited: with its 35mm twin guns, the Gepard has emerged as a decisive factor in the embattled nation’s fight to defend itself,” the news release says.
The German government has made 46 of these antiaircraft tanks available, with another six to follow. For Ukraine, they play an essential part in the struggle to control its airspace, having proved highly effective in countering the kamikaze drones Russia uses to attack Ukrainian cities. They are almost permanently in action, making ammunition consumption correspondingly high.
Rheinmetall has long produced much of its ammunition for medium-calibre weapons in Switzerland; now, however, new production capacity for supplying the Gepard systems has been created in Germany, where a multimillion-euro figure has been invested in plant and equipment.
In February 2023 Boris Pistorius, the German Defence Minister, announced at a meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group that the capacity for producing ammunition for the Gepard would be created in Germany at Rheinmetall. A contract for the rapid delivery of a total of 300,000 rounds of ammunition for the antiaircraft tank had already been signed several days earlier.
A total of 40,000 rounds are to be delivered this year. Ukraine will be receiving 150,000 rounds each of two different types of ammunition. One of these is a subcalibre APDS-T munition containing heavy metal penetrators, and thus especially suitable for engaging hardened targets. Rheinmetall is also supplying Ukraine with conventional HEI-T high-explosive incendiary ammunition designed for bringing down typical air defence targets, e.g., aircraft and guided missiles.