Swiss Parliament Approves Decommissioning and Sale of Leopard 2 Tanks to Germany
Decommissioning Approval and Future Plans
The Swiss Parliament recently gave the nod to the decommissioning and sale of 25 Leopard 2 tanks to Germany. The approval process, which is expected to take several months, was passed by a vote of 25 to 15 in the Council of States, the upper house of the Swiss Federal Assembly. This followed an earlier agreement by the National Council, the lower house, in June. With these approvals in place, the Federal Council is now in a position to comply with Germany’s request to purchase the tanks, currently in storage and not in use.
Rheinmetall, a German defense company, has plans to modernize the tanks before utilizing them to fill a gap in their own inventory, a deficit created by the transfer of their tanks to Ukraine. This move is expected to address shortages in both the German Armed Forces and potentially other European armies.
Selection and Decommissioning Process
Prior to the tanks being transported to Germany, the Army will need to identify which exact vehicles will be decommissioned. It is likely that those in the worst condition will be chosen. A total of 96 Leopard 2 tanks are currently out of service and stored in a depot in Eastern Switzerland. Of these, 71 are expected to remain with the Swiss Army. Some of these will be restored, while others will serve as a source of spare parts.
This is not the first time the Swiss Army has sold decommissioned equipment. In 2002, they sold 44 Tiger F-5 fighter jets back to the USA for 50 million francs.
Controversy Surrounding the Sale
The decision to decommission and sell the tanks was not without controversy. Certain military experts were against the sale, insisting that the Swiss Army still requires these tanks. However, Defense Minister Viola Amherd refuted these claims, stating there was no discrepancy between the army chief’s report and the Federal Council’s information. She maintained that, according to the head of the ground forces, the 25 tanks could easily be taken out of service. The majority eventually sided with the Defense Minister.
Implications for European Security
The decision by Switzerland is seen as a contribution to security in Europe. Germany’s ambassador to Switzerland expressed gratitude for the decision, emphasizing the need for these tanks to fill gaps in Germany and with its European partners. While Swiss public opinion has been divided on supplying weapons to Ukraine, the reselling of these tanks to Germany is expected to comply with Swiss neutrality laws and is also deemed to be in the country’s interest.
The Swiss cabinet now has to formally support the export of the Leopard IIs to Germany. However, this is expected to be a formality after Defence Minister Viola Amherd stated that the supply of the tanks to Germany complied with Swiss neutrality law and was also in the country’s interest.
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