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Panther instead of Leopard: Tank manufacturer Rheinmetall faces billion-dollar deal with Italy

Panther instead of Leopard: Tank manufacturer Rheinmetall faces billion-dollar deal with Italy
Panther instead of Leopard: Tank manufacturer Rheinmetall faces billion-dollar deal with Italy

The largest German arms manufacturer is announcing one major order after another. Now Rheinmetall is aiming for an order from Rome and is working closely with an Italian company to achieve this.

The German arms company Rheinmetall is getting ready for a billion-euro major order from Italy to supply hundreds of tanks. To this end, the Düsseldorf-based company wants to set up a joint venture with the Italian arms giant Leonardo. Both companies signed a letter of intent to this effect.

Both Rheinmetall and Leonardo are among the largest defense companies in Europe. The industry’s business is booming in light of the war in Ukraine and the conflicts in other regions.

The two shareholders will each hold 50 percent of the new company. It is to develop a battle tank and an infantry fighting vehicle. The latter is to be a version of Rheinmetall’s Lynx infantry fighting vehicle, while the battle tank is likely to be the Panther. Rheinmetall is touting this steel colossus as its latest generation of battle tanks. However, it is not yet ready for series production. The new joint venture is to land an order from Italy which, according to media reports, could have a volume of 20 billion euros and a term of more than ten years.

“Together we want to set new standards and open the door to a new generation of ultra-modern combat vehicles in and for Europe,” explained Rheinmetall CEO Armin Papperger. “We are thus addressing the Italian market as well as other partner states that need to modernize their combat systems.”

Panther instead of leopard

Leonardo was originally supposed to work with the German part of the European arms company KNDS, the former Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. However, this agreement to build Leopard battle tanks fell through. Now Rheinmetall is stepping into the breach.

“We see this agreement as a fundamental contribution to the creation of a common European defense area,” said Leonardo CEO Roberto Cingaloni. Rheinmetall did not provide any information on the possible numbers of units that the planned joint venture is targeting. According to information from the “Handelsblatt”, the project involves more than 550 tanks, of which more than 200 are Panthers and at least 350 Lynx.

Rheinmetall already has three subsidiaries in the southern European country with around 1,400 employees at five locations. In order for the letter of intent for the joint venture to be implemented, approval from the relevant regulatory authorities is still required.

Full order books at Rheinmetall

Rheinmetall has been growing strongly since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. The weapons manufacturer recently received framework contracts from the German armed forces. One of them involves artillery ammunition worth up to 8.5 billion euros and the other involves military trucks worth up to 3.5 billion euros. The major Italian order would exacerbate the already steep growth trajectory. Leonardo, with its more than 50,000 employees, recently had an annual turnover of more than 15 billion euros. Rheinmetall achieved a turnover of 7.2 billion euros in 2023 with around 34,000 employees. The Düsseldorf-based company’s order books are fuller than ever.

Source: Stern

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