The German arms industry Rheinmetall plans to be ready for mass production of its new heavy tank, the Panther KF51, a prototype of which was presented for the first time at an exhibition in France in mid-2022, within the next 15 months, while he continues to not rule out the possibility that it will also be produced in Ukraine, CEO Armin Papperger said on Thursday. The state-of-the-art Panther KF51 tank is the “flagship” of German tanks.

In Dusseldorf, during his once-a-year press conference, Mr. Papperger reiterated that the Panther might be produced and on the territory of Ukraineeven though war is raging in that country, where the Russian army invaded on February 22, 2022.

Building a factory in Ukraine would take 12 to 14 months, according to Mr. Papperger. Rheinmetall, a joint venture between the German arms industry and the Ukrainian state, would lease it to build the new tanks. However, their production would require several months, so Kiev would not acquire these heavy tanks until two years later.

Always according to Mr. Papperger, the plant would be protected from possible Russian airstrikes thanks to anti-aircraft defense systems that manufactured by Rheinmetall itself.

The CEO of the German arms industry hastened to clarify that no decision has yet been made on the construction of the plant either on the Ukrainian or German side. “We assume that the decision will be made within the next two months”, he estimated.

Asked if his industry plans to build the new tanks in another country, Mr. Papperger replied “yes, we are able to produce the Panthers in Hungary.” He declined to go into further detail.