German tank maker KMW has no orders, accused Rheinmetall too
BERLIN ($1=0.95 Euros) — German tank manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH & Co. [KMW] has no orders. “We haven’t received any orders yet,” says Mr. Ralf Ketzel, head of Munich-based tank maker Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. Mr. Ketzel also recalled the words of the German Chancellor, Mr. Olav Scholz, who at the beginning of the war in Ukraine announced a “turning point in the restructuring of the Bundeswehr”. However, the turning point in the Bundeswehr is still to come, writes the German online publication Merkur.de.
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Mr. Ketzel did not fail to blame long-time partner Rheinmetall, attacking it for producing its own KF51 tank. “Anyone who is a member of a consortium for the development of the future European main battle tank and is now also developing their own main battle tank ‘independently’ with the KF51 can no longer be a partner in that consortium,” Mr. Ketzel said.
KMW is the manufacturer of the legendary Leopard tank. At the beginning of the year, the company promised to increase production and create new jobs. The pledge was based on Mr. Schulz’s talk of investing nearly 100 billion euros to modernize the German armed forces. Mr. Ketzel said that so far there have been mostly discussions and in reality, KMW does not have a single order. Ketzel also recalled the promise by the government in Berlin that the country’s budget would reach 2% of the gross domestic product, but it has not actually moved from 1.6%.
Mr. Ketzel explained why he was not happy. The government often changes specifications and orders, which affects previously requested quantities, but subsequently, they either decrease or are replaced by other producers. He gave an example of KMW’s product – the Puma armored personnel carrier. Initially, quantities of over 100 units were mentioned, but now only 50 are in the budget. Mr. Ketzel still believes that the remaining quantity will be ordered in the coming years.
A major problem is Buvdesvera’s lack of influence. This opinion was put forward by journalists to Mr. Ketzel and he added to it. According to the German businessman, Germany’s army should take drastic action on digitization, participation in new nuclear programs, or the production/purchase of helicopters. Urgent strategic purchases are needed, Ketzel says.
The defense budget must reach the cherished 2%. This is the only way to guarantee continuous supplies against the backdrop of rising prices and international inflation, Mr. Ketzel claims.
Mr. Ketzel insulted the Rheinmetall KF51 tank, calling it a “3D PowerPoint Project”. According to him, KMW’s Leopard product remains the backbone of the German military and at least 14 other countries, and he sees an even better future for the Leopard 2. The KF51 and the Leopard are not comparable, Ketzel says. Leopard is lighter, cheaper, and has better weapons.
“Do we want to abandon the functioning cooperation between the 14 European nations in which the Leopard is used in favor of a new vehicle that does not offer the intended quantum leap at all?,” the KMW chief added.
Ketzel sees a threat to Leopard’s future, not only around the world but also here in Europe in neighboring and partner countries. Examples are Poland and Norway. Poland’s choice to acquire the South Korean K2 Black Panther tank comes as a major blow to the Germans as Warsaw makes a massive purchase of 1,000 tanks. At the same time, Norway is also about to orient itself toward the creation of Asia. Therefore, “we hope the Norwegians will not make the same mistake,” Ketzel concludes philosophically.
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